The Panthers have failed to execute in a consistent way over the last two weeks. While the coaching staff certainly deserves criticism, the players need to make plays as well. The coaches may not have done their best, but some players have failed just as much.
Devin Funchess vs. Jalen Mills/Ronald Darby
The Panthers passing game has been spotty at best. While they’ve tried to get DJ Moore some more snaps and claim to want to give Curtis Samuel more opportunities, ultimately Cam Newton’s most trusted receiver has been Devin Funchess. And last week, good things happened when they got him the ball. The Eagles vaunted front seven is going to cause problems for Cam Newton and the rushing game, meaning Newton will need a safety valve. Funchess should be heavily involved as a down field threat and a chain mover. They just need to give him opportunities to succeed.
Chris Clark vs. Derek Barnett/Michael Bennett
Chris Clark has been surprising, in that he hasn’t been completely terrible as a left tackle after being signed off the streets. The offense has schemed away from him so that he isn’t required to try and stonewall the opposing team’s best pass rusher. However, of all parts of this offensive line, Clark has been by far the weakest link. Clark will face some high end talent on Sunday, and the Eagles are going to go after him. I don’t expect him to stop them completely, but if he can keep himself between Newton and the rushers, the offense may stand a chance.
Captain Munnerlyn vs. Nelson Agholor
While the premier matchup may be James Bradberry vs. Alshon Jeffrey, Nelson Agholor in the slot could be a game breaker. Ever since moving to the slot, Agholor has been as effective as ever. And the guy he faces off against will be Munnerlyn, who has played better as of late but still remains the weak link of the corners. Munnerlyn is scrappy, and will make him work for it. But the Eagles would be crazy not to work the slot as often as possible, meaning Munnerlyn needs to show up.
Julius Peppers/Wes Horton vs. Lane Johnson
With Jason Peters hampered by a bicep injury, I’d expect Philly to leave Johnson one on one with the Panthers defensive ends on his side. Wes Horton continues to play well, while Peppers logged his first sack last week. The Panthers pass rush will be helpful, but locking down that edge could be even more important. The Panthers have struggled against perimeter runs, and they need to set the edge against this strong offense. They need Horton and Peppers to come in swinging.
What matchups are you watching?