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Cardinals @ Panthers - 2020 Preview

Setting the Stage
Panthers won their first game (21 - 16 vs. Chargers) & are 1 & 2. They won the turnover battle 4 - 0. Cards lost their first game (26 - 23 (on the last play in regulation from Detroit) and are 2 & 1.


Most Recent Panthers Game
Panthers beat Chargers 21 to 16. Statistically, (with Bridgewater at the helm instead of the athletic Cam Nerwton) , Carolina's offense has all the earmarks of a methodical, high-percentage, short-pass offense who seldom beats itself. Their one Achilles heel: Finishing off drives in the red zone.

Panthers built a 6 - 0 first quarter lead lost it early in the 2Q but scored 32 TDs and a FG to builld an 18 - 7 lead at halftime and hanging on in the 2H to win by 5. Defensively, tackling and run support remain challenging (SD converted 2/3 of their 3rd down opportunities).

When your kicker is a team's MVP, you've got a problem. Enter the Panthers. Slye was 5 for 5 in FG attempts. Charlton pinned down SD on their one-yd line on the final possession of the game, and it could be argued that this was a key game-decider.

Bridgewater completed 22 of 28 passing attempts for 235 yards a TD and no interceptions.

M Davis ran for 46 yds on 13 carries. Leading receiver was M Davis with 9 catches on 14 targets. Anderson was next with 5 receptions on 6 targets.

First Quarter

Caro - FG Slye 29 yds...Caro 3 - SD 0

Caro - FG Slye 24 yds...Caro 6 - SD 0

Second Quarter

SD - Ekeler run (RDE) for 12 yds...Caro 6 - SD 7

Caro - FG Slye 30 yds - Caro 9 - SD 7

Caro - M Davis pass fr Bridgewater...(XP MIssed)....Caro 15 - SD 7

Caro - FG Sly 22 yds...Caro 18 - SD 7

Third Quarter

SD - FG Badgely 41 yds....Caro 18 - SD 10

Fourth Quarter

Caro - FG 0 Slye 31 yds...Caro 21 - SD 10

SD Allen pass for 14 yds from J Herbert (2XP failed) ...Caro 21 - SD 16


Panthers Offensive Starters

Quarterbacks
QB ...05 Bridgewater...07 Grier...06 Walker

Running Backs
RB....28 M Davis...36 Cannon...(McCaffery inj)
FB....40 Armah

Wide Receivers
LWR... 12 Moore...10 C Samuel...16 Zystra
RWR....11 R Anderson...15 Roberts... 14 P Cooper

Tight Ends
TE...82 Manhertz....80 I Thomas...86 C Thompson

Offensive Line
LT....76 Okung...74 Little
LG...65 Daley...64 Reed
OC...61 Paradis....69 Larsen
RG...67 Miller...75 Schofield
RT....72 Moton..73 Scott

Panthers Defensive Starters

Defensive Line
LDE
...53 Burns...98 Haynes....55 S Miller
LDT...99 Short...92 Kerr....xx Hamilton
RDT...95 D Brown....93 Roy
RDE..97 Gross-Matos...
91 Weatherly...94 Obada

Linebacker
LOLB...54 Thompson....50 Stanford
MLB...52 Whitehead...57 A Taylor
ROLB...21 Chinn
...56 Carter

Defensive Back
CB...26 D Jackson...29 Elder
CB...25 Pride Jr...24 Douglas...23 Thomas-Oliver III
S......31 Burns 42Franklin
S......36 Boston...21 Chinn...38 Hartsfield

Special Teams
P.......03 Charlton
K.....04 Slye
LS...44 Jansen
PR....14 Cooper
KR....14 Cooper

Statistics

Stat..............................Panthers....Opponents........Cards........Opponents

1st Downs......................60...................69.....................79...............59

Offensive Yds...............1117................1147.................1219.............1004

Rushing Yards...............297..................372....................449............330

Rush Yds Per Play........4.2....................4.9......................5.7............5.5

Passing Yds................820....................775....................770...........674

Pass Yds Per Play.......8.4.....................6.9.......................7.0............7.8

Interceptions..................2.....................2.........................0.0............5.0

Sacks............................2.....................8..........................11..............6

TDs...............................6.....................10.........................9..............6

Turnover Ratio.............-3................................................-3

Time of Possession.....30:42...........29:17....................30:47........28:13

Panther Player Stats

Passing

Murray 75 of 113 for 786 yds 66.4% 4 TDs 5 Ints

Bridgewater 77 of 104 for 871 yds 74.0.% 2 TDs, 2 Ints

Rushing

Murray 26 for 187 4 TD

Drake 54 for 2191 TD

McCaffery 41 for 156

M Davis 14 for 47

Receiving

Hopkins 32 for 356 1TD

Fitzgerald 12 for 84 0 TD

Anderson 20 for 278

M Davis 16 for 119 1 TD

Moore 14 for 239 1 TD

Samuel11 for 96

Tackles -

Baker 28

Campbell 23

Hicks 21

Banjo 19

Thompson 27

Chinn 27

Whitehead 19

Boston 17

Cardinals Offense

Quarterbacks
01 Murray, 15 Streveler, 07 Hundley

Running Back
41 Drake, 29 Edmonds, 26 Benjamin

Wide Receivers
WR - 11 Fitzgerald...17 Isabella
WR - 13 Kirk....19 KS Johnson
WR - 10 Hopkins 16 Sherfield

Tight Ends
TE - 82 Arnold 81 Daniels 80 J Thomas


Offensive Line
LT- ...74 Humphries...79 Jones....66 Miles
LG - 67 Pugh 73 Garcia
OC- 52 Cole 65 Galliard
RG- 64 Sweezy. Murray
RT - 68 Beechum 71 J Murray

Defensive Interior Line
DT 94 Z Allen 95 Fotu
NT - 98 Peters, 92 Lawrence
DT RDE - 97 Phillips 92 Blackson

Linebackers
OLB - 55 C Jones 49 Fitts 45 Gardeck
ILB - ..59 Campbell 48 Simmons 47 Z Turner
ILB - 58 Hicks 51 Vallejo
OLB - 42 Kennard 43 Reddick

Defensive Backs
CB - 21 P Peterson...27 K Peterson
CB - 20 Kirkpatrick 33 Murphy Jr
S - 38 Banj...35 Riley...28 C Washington
S - 32 Baker...35 D Thompson .
40 Tillman*


Matchup: Panther Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Bridgewater is completing a high perecentage of his throws and equally distributes them- with a minimum of mistakes. If there's one knock, it's the inabiliy to convert red zone possessions into TD's. Challenge for Cards pass defenders will be to stop the Panther short-passing game - especially on 3rd downs.

Key Matchups - We don't see this as a dual between Cardinal DBs and Pantera no-name receiver (because of Bridgewater's propensity to spread the ball around equally. Instead, we see this more in terms of Panther receivers as a group vs. Cardinal DB's as a group. Cards are thin at safety. Expect Bridgewater to test Cardinal deep men early.


Matchup: Panther Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Loss of McCaffery has wounded the Panthers in a number of ways. His replacement, M Davis gained 46 yds on 13 carries vs. SD. Cards. Panthers have gained 297 yds in their first 3 games. Cards have surrendered 330. Cards should be able to shut down the Carolina running attack.

Key Matchups
Panther OL vs Cardinal Front 7.


Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Panther Pass Defense
Kyler Murray's early performance has been an intriguing blend of exciting plays (especially with his feet_ and too many mental errors resulting in busted plays and turnovers. Should this be dismissed as "What di you expect from a youngster? Or should Cardinal fans expect him to grow out of it at a faster rate.

So far this season, Murray's air attack has gone in the direction of DeAndre Hopkins, For some hard-to-explain reason, Murray hasn't been finding Larry Fitzgerald as often as you'd expect. Christian Kirk is the #3 dude (but he's been injured). Andy Isabella has proved to be unexpectedly trustworty and presents a true deep threat.

The OL has done a decent (though not spectacular) job of protecting Kyler Murr

Panther corners (Jackson and Pride) aren't exactly household names and most of the tackle leadershio appears to come from Pantera LBs than they do DB's.

Key Matchups:
Jackson and Pride vs. Hopkins and Fitzgerald. Arnold vs. Burns. Isabella vs. Boston. Expect Panthers to double Chinn on Murray.

Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Panther Run Defense
Attack is 2-pronged: Traditional attack centered on Drake and designed runs and scrambles by Kyler Murray. Cardinals are beginning to figure out how to use Drake and Murray to compliment one another in the running game. Panthers might logically want to put a spy (Chinn?) on Murray.

Panthers are surrendering an average of4.9 yds per running play (pretty much middle of the pack),.

Key Matchups
Drake vs. Whitehead and Thompson. Murray vs. Chinn &/or Boston.

Special Teams

Panther Special Teams
K
     .04Slye
P .....03 Charlton
LS    44 Jansen
KR  14 Cooper
PR   14 Cooper

Cardinals Special Teams
P - ...02 Lee
K- ....05 Gonzalez
H - ...02 Lee
LS - 46 Brewer
KR -17 Isabella
PR - 17 Isabella


Matchup Panther Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Slye has hit 9 of 9 FG attempts (compared to opponents' 4 of 4). That kind of tells you that thus far this season, the Panthers are placing a greater emphasis on their kicking game to make up for their inability to score TDs.

Gonzalez continues the (somewhat disturbing) pattern of delivering on most FG attempts but whiffing on a key 3-pointer at the worst times.

Key Matchups
We'll give Slye the edge over Gonzalez,and Charlton a slight edge over Lee. Cooper appears to give the Panthers reliability in the return game, but not the explosiveness that Isabella brings. (Note - When Isabella is asked to take on a greater load as a receiver, the Cards rely on someone else to return punts and kicks.


Week 3 Grades
From Schuyler Callihan of SI

OFFENSE: C
Carolina's offense didn't have much trouble moving the football, but had a heck of a time trying to finish off drives in the red zone. This was an area that Matt Rhule said would be important vs the Chargers, but luckily, it didn't end up costing them the game. Teddy Bridgewater was efficient and was one of the bright spots of the offense. Although Mike Davis played well for the most part, he still only rushed for 46 yards on 13 carries. The offensive line has to create more room to run for the backs and more so now than ever with Christian McCaffrey out.

DEFENSE: C+
I almost went with a B here, but tackling and stopping the run is still two big areas of concern for this defense. Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley ran for a combined 97 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown. The Chargers also converted 10 of 15 3rd down opportunities, which normally would keep you from winning games. With that said, it was certainly the best the defense has played through three games. Guys were flying around and playing with confidence and yes, finally get some pressure on the quarterback.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A+
Kicker Kicker Joey Slye was the MVP of the game, connecting on all five of his field goal attempts. Punter Joseph Charlton pinned the Chargers down at their own one yard line on the final drive of the game and he can credit that to long snapper J.J. Jansen who did an incredible job of downing the ball before his momentum took him into the end zone. If the Panthers can get this level of production from the special teams unit each week, they'll continue to be in a good position to win games.

How to Beat Panteras
This matches up as a talented but mistake-prone team (CArdinals) vs. a conservative, close-to-the-vest mistake-free opponent (Panteras).

You'd think that the Cardinals enjoy enough of a talent advantage up and down the roster to enable them to overwhelm an opponent like Carolina, but the danger for the Cardinals is that they throw caution to the wind, air it out early and often but commit too many bonehead errors (i.e. play calling, penalties, clock management, giveaways etc.) and give the game away to a less mistake-prone opponent.

Add to this, a weakness in the deep secondary that may have find Bridgewater licking his lips, and the Cards are in more perilous shape than you'd logically think they'd be.

Focus on error-free execution in all aspects of the game should be the Cardinal focus. Then let everything else hang out, and "go for the gold."

 
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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 03/25/2013