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Panthers vs Titans: Offensive preview

A very real chance for the offense do something worth cheering for.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers are coming off a beatdown at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. They hung around for three quarters, but that was more a product of good defense than anything the offense was doing. The offensive line couldn’t protect Bryce Young, and the rookie quarterback threw his third pick-6 in as many weeks. It was as bad as we’ve seen the passing game look all season.

On the bright side, the running game was improved. Miles Sanders and Chuba Hubbard combined to fun for 107 yards on 21 carries. They had a few plays blown up, especially when they tried to stretch the ball out wide, but the offensive line did a good job getting push when they were asked to go straight downhill.

All of that was against a Cowboys defense that is one of the best in the league. The Tennessee Titans are not that. They allow 5.4 yards per play, which ranks 25th in the league. They’re decent against the run, but they’re bottom five in pass yards per attempt, completion percentage, and passer rating against. Their three interceptions are the fewest in the league. They just got torched by Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars, who coming into the game had been rather lackluster outside of Travis Etienne. The Panthers have a shot to make something happen. Here’s what it’ll take.

  • Get the ball out quick. The Panthers have struggled with this all season, so easier said than done. But the Titans have a much better front than they do a secondary. Arden Key has generated a lot of pressure off the edge and Jeffrey Simmons is a menace inside. The Titans have the seventh most effective pass rush win rate according to ESPN. But none of that has been enough to overcome a poor secondary. Both starting cornerbacks Sean Murphy-Bunting and Kristian Fulton have allowed over 70% completion percentage and passer ratings over 100. Of course, the Panthers don’t really have any weapons to effectively take advantage of the Titans weak play outside, but this is the way to attack them, in theory.
  • Take care of the football. After taking the NFL world by storm with four touchdown passes in his NFL debut, quarterback Will Levis has quietly been pretty bad in his three subsequent starts. He’s thrown two touchdowns to two interceptions in those games, and both of the touchdowns came with the game out of reach against the Jaguars last week. He threw for 107 of his 158 yards on those two garbage time drives. Meanwhile, Derrick Henry has been ineffective more often than not and is losing snaps to rookie Tyjae Spears. All of that is to say that the Panthers defense is perfectly capable of dominating the day. The offense can’t ruin that for them by giving up short fields or points while the defense is on the sidelines.

Just two things this week. The Titans are an unspectacular defense and the Panthers are an unspectacular offense. There isn’t much more to look at in this one. The Panthers just need to step up and make the plays that they haven’t been making this season. If the defense does what it’s been doing, that should help matters for this woeful Panthers offense.