Bad news, the Panthers rank last in rush defense. Good news, the Panthers rank 6th in pass defense. Although I do admit the 6th in pass is partly because everyone can just run the ball, but I would give the secondary a bit more credit than that. A large number of the points given up by the Panthers has not been the fault of the defense. Specials teams and offensive turnovers hold a lot of the blame.
In addition, it appears we should have both S Chris Harris and LB Na'il Diggs back from their injuries and of course we added yet another new defensive tackle in Hollis Thomas since the Panthers last took the field. With that in mind, two of the three start off my top defensive key match-ups:
Carolina Panthers Defensive Team Stats
|Def||29.0||362.3 (23rd)||179.7 (6th)||182.7 (32nd)|
Washington Redskins Offensive Team Stats
|Off||14.0||325.3 (17th)||225.3 (15th)||100.0 (21st)|
Panthers DT Hollis Thomas vs Redskins C Casey Rabach and LG Derrick Dockery
Finally a veteran DT. However, the question remains does he have anything left in his tank. The Redskins' offensive line is far from elite, but right now so is our defensive line. Even if Thomas has a great game, it will be hard to say he'll be successful this season, but it will be a good start. If Thomas starts demanding doubles teams because of his size, he can free up those around him to make the key plays.
Panthers S Chris Harris vs TE Chris Cooley
Harris returning could be bigger than I had originally thought. I'm going to guess most already knew this, but i didn't realize he had the field headset and called the plays and with him out Godfrey had the headset and I think Beason called the plays. Harris' experience could have a major impact on how the D plays this week.
In his first game our D will be facing another well known TE in Chris Cooley. While the Panthers have always had trouble defending TE, this year has been extremely bad. Cooley leads the Redskins in receptions and is second in total yards. While not in the elite TE category, since he is targeted so frequency by Jason Campbell, he will have to be stopped to end the Redskins drives with a punt.
Panthers RE Julius Peppers vs Redskins Chris Samuels
Will Beason's Pepper pep talk help? I hope so, but I'm not holding my breath. I'm not saying he shouldn't do it, but when Jerry Richardson called on Peppers to be a leader he disappeared that season. While slightly different approaches the purpose is still the same, to get Peppers to play with more desire, heart, passion, whatever you want to call it.
Hopefully in addition to the Beason's verbal spanking, having wide body Hollis Thomas (hopefully getting double teamed) will free Peppers to cause a bit more damage than he has. Just to add fuel to the argument, if there is any game this season where Peppers will show it would be this one, in the fact that the Redskins could be a considered a weaker opponent.
Panthers Coaches and Game Plan
During the first half of the Dallas game, the coaches showed their willingness to blitz and commit to getting a more pressure on the QB. Jason Campbell can do well without pressure, but much like Delhomme, if you start getting in his face and knocking him to the ground a few times then he can get rattled. If the front four are not getting it done, the coaches should be prepared to bring additional help. Since the Redskins are not known for lighting it up down field, if there is any time to not be shy about bringing pressure this would be the type of game.