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Panthers vs Giants: 3 key players who need to step up

The Panthers need good games out of these three to cut the Giants down to size, and hit Gettleman right in the kishkas.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is often a game of matchups, and each week, there are key cogs that change based on the strengths of the opponent or weaknesses the Panthers need to cover. This week, we’ll highlight three individuals that have something to prove, and need to step up for the team to be successful on Sunday.

Offense

Know what? I really can’t pick any one person this week. It was just turd piles up and down the field against the Minnesota Vikings. Everyone on offense needs to be better. Of course, it all starts with Sam Darnold, who looks nothing like the reinvented quarterback we saw in the first three weeks. He needs to come out this game, make some of those throws we saw to start the year, and establish that the Panthers are the better team over the New York Giants. It will go a long way to regaining the confidence in himself, and the confidence of the coaching staff in him.

Of course, he can’t do much if his talented receivers keep putting footballs on the deck, or if his offensive line is allowing constant pressure. I counted seven drops for the Panthers this past week, you really can’t win with that, especially if your quarterback is having an off day to begin with. The offensive line has allowed 12 sacks over this three game losing streak, and while no one is surprised, that means we also shouldn’t be surprised that Sam Darnold is struggling. Flat out, it is making it hard to figure out anything about Darnold and our future when the line is playing this poorly. In my opinion, it starts with giving Cam Erving help on every passing down unfortunately. Literally leaving a tight end in to block in all pass pro sets. It is that bad.

Defense

Yeah, y’all too. Outside of a few heroic efforts from guys like Keith Taylor jr., Frankie Luvu, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Haasan Reddick... the stifling defense hasn’t been the same as it was those first few weeks where the pressure was un-ending and no one could run on us. Now, seemingly, everyone can run on us again, and we just notched another zero sack game. To be fair, the Cowboys maul everyone, and the Vikings had a healthy Dalvin Cook and another great run blocking line. The Giants are going to be without Saquon Barkley and have some problems on their offensive line. Even if we are out Shaq Thompson, we should be able to do a lot well on defense this week.

Injuries, and who gets to play, will mean a lot for both teams. Stephon Gilmore is eligible to return, but we don’t know yet if he will. C.J. Henderson should be better acclimated to the defense now, and the Giants are without many of their top targets. The Panthers even without Shaq should be able to match up well with the Giants weapons, and that should clear opportunities for pressure. If the defense struggles to generate that this week, we should be worried.

Coaching

Finally. It has to rest here. The team just still seems to be a disorganized mess. Two timeouts in a row, then a delay of game? I mean, what the crap? Also, we have to lay some responsibility at the feet of pie in the sky dreams from the offseason, like Cam Erving being a starting left tackle. Being shocked that it’s not working was only surprising to them apparently.

So the solution is that we are going to run the ball more? For real? What makes us think that this offensive line is going to make that a reality? Or, that Chuba Hubbard is the kind of bell cow you need for that? It just seems like another “good in theory” things to say, but our ability to execute is limiting. If we CAN do it, I’d love to see it, as getting something going in the pass game off playaction would mean a lot to this offense and Sam Darnold.

Truthfully, the players and this fan base need to see a different Carolina Panthers take the field this week. It cannot be like the past two Sunday. The Giants are a beatable team who we match up well against. If we fail to execute again, it’s going to be a very long season.