Jess: Those statistics can be a bit misleading because of the fact that Kolb did not play much in the preseason. That's just the way things go in the preseason. However, he did lead several sustained drives, which was something that did not happen a season ago with the combination of Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson leading the way.
I would have to place Kolb and the result of having Kolb as reason number one. The offense feels confident because Kob has the keys to the car. But we can also look at scheme. The past two seasons, the Cardinals ran more plays out of a four-wide set than any other formation. Arizona now can and does run with one or two tight ends more often. The simple fact of running these formations forces defenses to think about both the pass and the run.
Question 2: A lot of Panther fans think we should have picked CB Patrick Peterson #1 overall. If the Cardinals had the #1 pick do you think they still would have picked Peterson and if so why or why not?
Jess: In a nutshell...they might have. I recall that after the draft the team said that Peterson was either fourth or fifth on the team's draft board. I get the feeling that Newton might have been the guy, but more likely it would have been Von Miller. Everyone was in love with Miller and we all were upset that Denver drafted him.
Question 3: I see you are starting two CBs with zero NFL starts between them in Peterson and 2nd year player AJ Jefferson. Is it safe to say the Panther offense should look to target the youngsters or would you recommend a different plan of action?
Jess: Since Cam Newton is in his first start, I would focus on running the ball and utilizing the tight end in the middle of the field. As inexperienced as Jefferson and Peterson are, Newton is in the same boat and has accuracy issues. Arizona has struggled a lot in the past few years matching up with quality tight ends.
I like the sound of that [queue the Panther growl]. Yet I can't believe Chud won't try to draw them in with a few smoke plays to Smitty only to toast them deep with a double move. Didn't Testaverde & Smitty do exactly that against the Cards in 2009? Repeat!!
Question 4: The Cardinals added a couple former Panthers to their roster in CB Richard Marshall and TE Jeff King. Have either of these made an impact and should be expect to see them on the field Sunday?
Jess: King has been very good because of his ability to block. He will be on the field quite a bit. Marshall has not made much noise yet. We will see him on passing downs, playing the nickel position.
Question 5: Finish the sentence: For the Panthers to slow down the Cardinals offense their defense must ____________.
Jess: For the Panthers to slow down the Cardinals offense, their defense must...pray for a blizzard inside the stadium!!!! Wait, IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! Seriously, it will be the adage of stopping the run and getting pressure on Kolb. Since we don't know exactly how Kolb will be with the game on the line, what you have to hope to do is put the Cardinals in a situation to abandon the running game and then blitz effectively.
Well there is the rub...stopping the run. Yes, it would seem the game plan for both offenses is very obvious so...will both go with the obvious or will one surprise the other? Will it matter? I think we are going to see what kind of team we have right out of the gate.
Jess' score prediction: Cardinals 30 Panthers 16
I big thanks to Jess Root for taking the time to give us some insight!