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Panthers at Buccaneers offensive preview: Panthers need to get the ball to their playmakers

After a pretty positive outing against the Raiders, the Panthers offense looks to find another gear against the Bucs.

Las Vegas Raiders v Carolina Panthers
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Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Despite a coaching staff and roster overhaul, and despite having almost no actual offseason, the Panthers offense actually put on a pretty good show against the Raiders on Sunday. Aside from Panthers head coach Ron Rivera Matt Rhule opting for a fullback dive on fourth and inches, the offense was relatively exciting to watch. Still, it did not quite live up to its potential. This week, the team takes on division rival Tampa Bay, whose defense is filled with some dangerous talent.

Panthers offense

Maybe it was PTSD from watching Kyle Allen play so much last season, but having a quarterback with some pocket presence and poise was a welcomed sight. While Teddy Throwsevelt didn’t torch the Raiders, he was efficient. He completed almost 65% of his passes for 270 yards. That respectable yards per attempt is less impressive when you remember 75 of those yards came on one touchdown pass to Robby Anderson. Bridgewater was not very inclined to test the deep passing game last week, but he did spread the ball around to six different pass catchers.

The big three of the receiving corps — Anderson, Moore, and Samuel, — combined for 15 of the team’s 22 receptions. Aside from Anderson’s long touchdown, however, the yardage gained was relatively tame. All three of these players are more than capable of taking a short pass to the house, but I’d like to see them also take a long pass to the house.

On the ground, the Panthers eventually got Christian McCaffrey involved, though it took longer than it should have. He ended with just shy of 100 yards and a couple touchdowns, but many fans will only remember the one yard he didn’t get the opportunity to get on fourth down late in the game.

Overall, the offensive line fared pretty well, even without starting left guard Dennis Daley. Bridgewater was only sacked once, and the line gave him some open lanes to scramble through when needed. They also opened up some decent holes on the ground for CMC.

Buccaneers defense

The Tampa Bay defense had the unfortunate task of attempting to slow down the New Orleans Saints offense last week, and they fared okay. Their quarterback didn’t help them out, throwing a couple interceptions including one returned for a touchdown. I’m sure they’re thrilled to have moved on from Jameis Winston. Still, they have plenty of playmakers, especially up front.

The line of their 3-4 front features havoc bringers Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea, and their EDGE defenders include pass rushing specialists Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett. They only notched one sack against Drew Brees, but he is notoriously difficult to get to in time. The Bucs’ lone sack went to JPP, and they totaled 11 tackles for loss against the Saints.

Tampa also have young linebacker Devin White alongside the supremely talented Lavonte David combining to man the middle in their 3-4 defense. White and David led the team with 11 tackles each last week. The secondary, however, is rather young. Their two starting corners and one of their safeties are all entering their third year, and the fourth member of their defensive backfield is rookie Antoine Winfield, Jr. Though young, they did hold Drew Brees and the Saints under 200 yards passing.

Match-up

Obviously Teddy Bridgewater knows how the Saints like to play offense, so I’d expect to see a similar game plan involving short, quick passes. While I don’t think Carolina’s offensive line is good enough to hold down the talent of the Bucs pass rushers, the Panthers have enough YAC monsters to where they shouldn’t need to throw the ball down field much. The downside to that plan is the young corners won’t have to worry about double moves as much. I think the Bucs defense wins this battle overall, especially if their offense takes better care of the ball this week.