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As the Panthers travel to the Falcons, we'll begin our preview by looking at how our offense stacks up against their secondary. The Falcons look to be the cream of the crop not just in the NFC South, but perhaps in all of the NFL as their new defensive coordinator has turned this unit into a turnover creating machine.
Last week was the first time this season Cam Newton was just off. Best way to examine this is his abysmal completion percentage against the Giants, a gut wrenching 53.3%. Through the first two weeks, Newton was completing nearly 70% of his passes, a marked difference. Newton is surrounded with talent to throw the ball, assuming his offensive line holds up long enough.
And unfortunately for us, the Falcons defense is nothing to joke about. Through 3 games, the Falcons have managed to put together a very opportunistic pass defense, defending 18 passes and managing to come up with 7 INTs. And I'm sure everyone is aware that we have yet to win a game when Newton has thrown an INT. Safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore have been excellent in the recent weeks, as noted in this article by Son of a Newton. It's imperative that our run game gets something going in order to force the safeties to respect the run. That means screens, draws, and yes, even a few read-option plays.
Oh by the way... did I mention those 7 INTs represent a league high, and 18 passes defended ranks them 7th overall? Neither stat bodes well for the health of our passing game. And they are doing this without Brent Grimes, no less. Their stout talent along the secondary will be hell to deal with if we are forced to become one-dimensional in a catch up game similar to the weeks one and two.