While we wait to ensure Cam Newton's first two starts weren't outliers, and bide our time until DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart run the football we know one thing for certain- Rob Chudzinski's offensive planning is good... really good. Completely apart from the fact he took one of the worst offenses in the NFL in 2010 and turned them into the 2nd most potent offense in the league is his ability to game plan and prepare for upcoming opponents. Thus far he has shown a deft hand at not only making Cam Newton's transition into the league as fruitful as possible, but also striking very quickly on opening drives.
Never was this skill more prevalent that last week against Green Bay in which Cam Newton's opening drive was utter perfection. He finished the drive 6/7 for 90 yards and a TD, his only incompletion was a pass to Jeremy Shockey that hit the TE's hands, but he couldn't hold onto the ball.
X-Factor: Cam Newton
Honestly, I don't really know what to make of Newton's first two games. In a way I think I'm in a state of shock still, but what I do know is that the doubting continues, and will continue by other fans until they see him play a game against them. This is what happened in Arizona, this is what happened against Green Bay, and come Monday I have a feeling Jaguars fans will understand why Newton is regarded as highly as he is.
My concern with Aaron Rodgers last week was that he had more weapons that our DBs could handle, and similar to that sentiment I think the same thing about Newton this week. Outside of Smith and the TEs no names jump off the page around the league, but Newton knows how to distribute the ball and get everyone involved. This is coupled with play calling from Chud that never allows a defense to double one receiver effectively, because he'll go to another in an instant. Newton will get his chances, and will have success.
Panthers' run offense Vs. Jaguars' run defense
Just because there aren't a host of household names on the Jaguars' defense doesn't mean they're a group of scrubs. After all, on the Panthers 2003 Superbowl team I bet 31 other fan bases couldn't name a Panther defender after Julius Peppers. Oftentimes a unit is more than a sum of its parts, and that's my feeling on Jacksonville.
Last week against New York it was turnovers that killed the Jags, not getting steamrolled. They held Shonn Greene to just 49 yards on 13 carries (a 3.1 YPC), and as bad as that was his backups were worse, as a team the Jets' rushers were held to a pathetic 2.2 yards per carry. The week before they held Chris Johnson to an abysmal 24yards on 9 carries, just 2.7 YPC.
For a team like Carolina who has already shown they don't have a lot of faith in their running game there's little reason to think the Panthers will run much at all, and when they do the Jaguars have proved themselves to be capable at stopping the run as well as anyone in the NFL.
Panthers' pass offense Vs. Jaguars' pass defense
Here again the concept of 'too many weapons' comes into play. Jacksonville fans will try to convince you their pass defense is stout after holding Mark Sanchez to just 182 yards passing last week, but the reality is pretty grim when you get inside the numbers. The Jets' QB only attempted 24 passes, and averaged 7.6 yards per attempt against the Jaguars. This from a player whose career YPA is 6.6; furthermore they allowed Sanchez to complete 71% of his passes, and he's a career 55% passer.
To compound this issue Jacksonville was completely unable to stop TE Dustin Keller last week who finished with over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown. In terms of ability I'd place Keller somewhere between Olson and Shockey, but we have two dangerous tight ends and a QB who knows how to use them.
Finally we come to Steve Smith. In week one Tennessee Titans receiver Kenny Britt was able to total 136 yards receiving and two touchdowns, granted 80 of those yards came on a single TD, but regardless even with that touchdown removed Britt averaged 14 yards per catch. Rasean Mathis is a good corner, but Steve Smith is a great WR... his 156 yards receiving against Charles Woodson last week proves it, and Mathis is no Woodson.
The Jaguars can shut down one aspect of the offense, the run game. Unfortunately for them we have little interest in running the ball right now. The Panthers should have no problem moving the ball down the field, and when they get inside the Red Zone they are facing one of the worst red zone defenses in the NFL.
Panthers win the offensive battle handily.
Later today I'll bring you a preview of the Jags' offense Vs. our defense.