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New York Giants Week 7 Opponent First Look: Carolina Panthers Offense

Let's get to know the key names on the Carolina Panthers offense, the New York Giants' Week 7 opponents.

Sam Darnold found a new home outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. The honeymoon seemed to be swell for Darnold and the Panthers alike. Undefeated through three weeks, Darnold and the Panthers seemed poised to make a statement in the NFC South.

The NFL, however, has a knack for flipping scripts in a hasty manner. The Panthers find themselves on a three-game losing streak, a 3-0 record suddenly turned into three and three real fast.

Head coach Matt Rhule has called out the entire offense and vows to commit to rushing the football despite being without Christian McCaffrey this week.

Rhule said turnovers are a significant reason why the Panthers have lost three straight. In those three games, Darnold has six interceptions and a fumble. Star receiver DJ Moore also put the ball on the ground. Seven turnovers are inexcusable, and Rhule's frustration is warranted. The loss of McCaffrey doesn't help.

The Panthers are middle of the road by many offensive metrics. They currently rank 16th in scoring, 15th in passing offense, and 17th in rushing offense. They are also 18th in yards per game.

Beatable? Yes, if the Giants defense can figure out where it's been going wrong and get back on track.

Let's see who the Giants need to be aware of on this Panthers offense.

Quarterbacks

Sam Darnold was the replacement for Teddy Bridgewater, who was shipped to Denver, and Darnold has shown positives and plenty of negatives.

He's a bit reckless with the football, hence his seven interceptions on the season. He has used his legs wells and has five rushing touchdowns on the year, but his lack of ball security has played a significant role in the Panthers' last three losses.

The 2020 Giants defense baited many teams into mistakes, especially teams led by young signal-callers. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has an opportunity to right the ship on Sunday.

If the defense can force some Darnold errors, then the Giants' offense may be able to do just enough to overcome that Phil Snow-led Panthers' defense. Graham has to figure out how to rekindle that 2020 defense.

The Panthers have skill on their offense, but their offensive line is worse than the Cowboys and Rams. They're also without their best player, and they're on the road. The return for both Sam Darnold and receiver Robby Anderson in East Rutherford on Sunday should be interesting.

Running Backs

The rookie out of Oklahoma State, Chuba Hubbard, will be the predominant back for the Panthers. Royce Freeman will mix in and be a fixture in six-man protection packages.

Hubbard isn't the most efficient running back, but he's still learning the nuance of the position. He has 72 carries for 281 yards, with a rushing touchdown. He also has 13 catches for 82 yards receiving.

A combination of Hubbard and Freeman shouldn't scare the Giants. The former will get the lion-share of carries. There will be a lot of running the football and a slower pace in this game if Rhule's comments after the Minnesota loss are any indication of the game plan heading into New Jersey on Sunday.

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Wide Receivers

A trio of DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and Terrace Marshall sounds good on paper, but Marshall is dealing with a concussion and could miss the game. Anderson, meanwhile, is one of the least efficient wide receivers in the NFL through six games. Both Anderson and Moore dropped three passes each last week, although the latter receiver carries star qualities.

Moore is tied for third in targets this season. He's getting the work and has some touchdowns, three on the year. He's a threat in a multitude of ways, and the Giants have to be weary wherever he goes.

Anderson has been a letdown so far. He has two touchdown receptions but has done little other than that with his 38 targets.

Marshall is a big slot who is familiar with offensive coordinator Joe Brady. The two were a part of the 2019 LSU National Championship team. Marshall is big, fast, and is a problem in the slot, especially the size mismatch if Darnay Holmes plays more snaps after a promising showing against the Rams.

If Marshall misses the game, expect Brandon Zylstra to play in 11-personnel. Zylstra has caught all eight passes he's seen this season. He's an overachieving UDFA who has carved a great special teams career out in Carolina.

Shi Smith is also on the roster and is an exciting rookie out of South Carolina who hasn't played much this season.

Tight Ends

If the Panthers run the football a bit more in Week 7, there could be more 12-personnel packages with rookie Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas leading the way. Dan Arnold was recently traded to the Jaguars, opening up snaps for Tremble, who is doing well for a rookie.

Thomas isn't flashy, but he's a big-bodied blocking tight end who has found his way into some production through the air. Tremble has a touchdown on the season. Thomas has ten catches for 120 yards.

The tight end is an afterthought in this offense, and the Panthers operate more out of 11-personnel. But again, that might change this weekend if Rhule's comments about running the ball more come to fruition.

Offensive Line

The Panthers' offensive line is below average. The left guard, Pat Elflein, is on injured reserve, which forces Michael Jordan, a player recently cut by the team, into a starting role. That is not desirable, and neither is their left tackle Cameron Erving, who is a replacement-level journeyman.

Both Jordan and Erving can pose problems for the Panthers' ability to sustain offense if the Giants can mount pressure and force Darnold out of rhythm.

Taylor Moton, someone Giants general manager Dave Gettleman knows well, is the best lineman on the team. He is a massive body who is nimble on his feet in pass protection but can also bully defenders in the run game.

Moton is a good football player. Matt Paradis is the starting center. Both Moton and Paradis are solid contributors when healthy. Paradis isn't the player he once was, but he's still an average starting center. John Miller is set to start at right guard next to Moton. Miller is another replacement-level player.

The Giants could find mismatches along the offensive line. There is a lot of investment allocated to the defensive line for the Giants, and they've underwhelmed through six games. Graham will look to get his defensive unit on track in an important game that is winnable.


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