The Carolina Panthers are looking to snap a four-game skid this Sunday vs division rival Tampa Bay. The Panthers will have to pick up where they left off offensively last week when they went down to the wire against the Chiefs. How do they do it again this week? Let's break it down.
Keep faith in run game
With Christian McCaffrey out of the lineup this week for the Panthers and the Buccaneers riding in with the best run defense in the NFL, it may be easy to abandon the running game. This is something Carolina absolutely cannot afford to do. I know how talented the Bucs' front seven is but you have to keep pounding the football and hope that one slides through for a big gain. You don't want to get too one dimensional because this secondary will eat you alive if that's the case. Mike Davis has proven to be a capable back and there's no shame in handing it off to him 15 times. Keeping the defense guessing is something Carolina has to do all game long.
Protect Teddy at all costs
Tampa Bay has registered 29 sacks on the season and five of those sacks came from the last time these two played. Teddy Bridgewater had pressure up in his face all game back in week two and never really had a chance to just sit in the pocket and scan the defense. The offensive line has continued to struggle so we may see more of tight end Chris Manhertz to help in pass protection up front and Mike Davis as a last resort blocker in the gun. If the Panthers want to pull out a win in this one, Teddy can't be on the ground five times. That just won't fly.
Get the ball out quick
As I just mentioned, Tampa Bay gets to the quarterback early and often. They do a great job of scheming up blitzes and dialing up pressure from all sorts of angles. They don't really give much of the same look, so it can confuse the big fellas up front. The best way to beat pressure? Screens, slants, bubbles, and check downs to Davis out of the backfield or Ian Thomas at tight end. Getting the ball out fast lessens the chance of a sack and it might be Carolina's best bet to counter Tampa's aggressive approach.
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