Blacmomba's FanPost brought to my attention that no one has yet given their thoughts on the Carolina @ Tampa game this Sunday. Thus, I figured I would go ahead and post my thoughts on the game. I won't be looking so much into individual, or even team, statistics, rather simply stating how I personally feel about this game. I don't know if Tampa currently has any guys out or not, but here's my opinion...
(Editor's note: Broke the post into paragraphs)
QB Tampa doesn't consider Johnson to be their future. They're instead looking for Freeman. I hope they continue to believe that and eventually drop Johnson in the next year or two. I also hope that circumstances are well enough that Carolina could pick him up (Unless, of course, we find a gem in the draft). I don't like Tampa but I do like their QB. Given a few years, the guy is the future of A team; which one, however, remains in question. We must, by all means, remove Johnson's legs from the equation and pressure him enough to take advantage of his inexperience. Allowing him to make plays on the ground will make for a tough day for us Carolina fans. There will be nothing worse Sunday than a 3rd & long converted by the QB on a scramble... except for, well, a few of them... unless, the games on the line, then one may just be heart breaking enough. I feel that Carolina's defense is more than up to this challenge, though.
RB Along with that, we must never let Cadillac get rolling and Ward must be contained at all times. If Caddy gets steam built up, it'll be hard to stop him. If he doesn't, he'll likely give way to Ward early. Ward remains a threat for 1st downs through-out, regardless. Restricting their ability to run the ball will greatly impact the out come of this game. I believe our defense bringing their A game will serve much more importance than our offense as Tampa should be susceptible to turn overs of all kinds, allowing our offense a little breathing room. Of course, best case scenario would be all sides of our team showing up for the game, Special Teams too. Sometimes Carolina makes that seem like just a little too much to ask for, however this week I believe we will see our whole team intact and ready to play.
Defense I don't feel that Tampa's defense is on par with our running backs. If they hope to contain Williams & Stewart, they're going to have to put their utmost effort into it. This leaves a lot of vulnerabilities elsewhere that we may, hopefully, exploit. I'd rather see Williams & Stewart both return to last years form but if distracting the defense is all that they are capable of doing, it will have to be enough. I don't know how Tampa's secondary will match up with Delhomme as I haven't paid them that much attention but hopefully we will play smart and keep Delhomme out of harms way (or keep him from throwing us into harms way).
QB I seriously do not want to see Delhomme going for deep passes in this game. I'd rather see the Panthers exercise short passes and runs to keep the defense honest. I understand the need to stretch the field but I would like to rely on Y.A.C and broken tackles to keep the safeties in the back. If DeAngelo can break through the line and into the secondary as often as I think he will, I don't believe the Buc's will be brave enough to leave it unguarded by bringing them up. I'd like to see Delhomme focus on 1st downs and that's it with short yardage, high completion passes. Running backs, tight ends, full backs, I want to see everyone getting this ball and rumbling forward. If we can improve our YAC and not require Delhomme to make any deep throws, it should work.
RB As far as offense goes, as per usual, I feel Stewart should start this game and slowly work in DeAngelo. It's not that I feel Stewart is the better back, by any means, but his running style (power) should be used to wear on the defense before DeAngelo's speed is used to burn them. I'd rather match up a fresh Williams against a tired defense than a fresh Stewart. As mentioned earlier, I'd like to see both of them catch some screens and short passes.
Defense I'm not really worried about our defense. They've been playing very well yet have been over-shadowed by our offense leaving them stranded on the field for too much of the game. By better controlling the T.O.P again this week, our defense should shine. Pressure their QB and stop their run early. Tampa's morale should break quickly. Sadly, I feel the same could be said about Carolina's morale. Being we are coming off of our first win, though, I give Carolina the advantage here. Whichever team loses their confidence first will be the team that loses the game.
Final Prediction: 17-10