While the Panthers made some wholesale changes to the coaching staff this week, they only affected the offense, as defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero and the rest of his assistants have all retained their jobs. This isn’t surprising, as the defense has been far from the problem most of the season. Still, with 1 win on the books and a major shift in offensive philosophy, they will once again be tasked with keeping the Panthers in the game as we see what the Thomas Brown game plan looks like on that side of the ball. Let’s dive in.
- Pressure Baker Mayfield: The Panthers defense has struggled to get pressure and sacks as of late, and they are going up against a Buccaneers offense that throws the ball a lot more effectively than they run it. Their yards per rush is 32nd in the league and yards per game rank 31st. Even if they can get the run going a little bit, this offense is built to throw. It appears they’ll once again be missing Marquis Haynes, so it’ll be up to Brian Burns to find himself in the groove he’s been missing and for Derrick Brown to get some interior push.
- Secondary woes: The Panthers could finally be getting some reinforcements this week, as Jaycee Horn has practiced in limited fashion all week and CJ Henderson appears primed to clear the concussion protocol. If Horn can play, that’s great! Henderson however got smoked the last time these teams faced off when Horn was not able to play. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin might eat again, though this Panthers defense has been stronger at limiting passing plays all season, having guys like Troy Hill and David Long Jr play above expectations for random in-season cornerback signings.
- Keep a hat on Rachaad White: Despite the overall ineffectiveness of the rushing attack for the Bucs, White has been their most productive rusher and doubles as a pass catcher, catching 4+ passes 5 times this season. He could be an outlet for Baker Mayfield if the Panthers surprisingly stingy passing defense can limit the big plays.
What are you looking for, Panthers fans?