As we prepare to enter our second glorious battle against the Tealcats of Carolina, I asked our resident Panthers blogger a few questions. He emerged from his cave long enough to give me some insights about David Carr, Steve Smith and the rest of the rest of the team that hopefully is going to lose to the Falcons on Sunday. Here's what he had to say:
1. Without Delhomme, you guys have turned to David Carr, Vinny Testaverde and Matt Moore. Who seems the most likely to finish out the season as your starter, and did that question make you want to cry?
Jaxon: I have certainly missed Jake these last few games though I admit that after he went down I really thought we still had the team to make a playoff run. I'm not sure anymore if it's up to David Carr or Matt Moore. If Vinny can stay healthy he presents our best shot at winning the division, unless Carr should get his mojo back from Fat Bastard.
2. How much has the series of QB changes affected your receiving corps? Steve Smith has good numbers, but they're not the otherworldly ones I'm used to seeing.
Jaxon: David Carr just hasn't been able to get on the same page with Steve Smith this season. Vinny and Smith hooked well against the Cardinals but there's a big difference between DeAngelo Hall and the Cards CB Hood. Outside of Smith the Panthers have very little at WR regardless of who the QB is. Colbert & Carter get a few catches a game but not enough for an impact. 2 nd round pick WR Dwayne Jarrett can't get off the inactive list and will soon be labeled a huge bust if something doesn't change.
3. It was sort of up in the air earlier in the season, but would you say DeShaun Foster owns the starting job? Will DeAngelo Williams ever live up to his billing?
Foster certainly owns the starting job and no one questions it anymore. We're not down on DeAngelo at all, at least I'm not. Foster is just having a good season and is more of a power runner which fits John's Fox style. Besides, you need two good backs these days so we are quite content with Foster and Williams at this point. The blocking is another matter.
4. Who should the Falcons look for as the key players on both offense and defense?
Jaxon: Defense: rookie MLB Jon Beason has been playing great in place of Dan Morgan who is now out for the season. The secondary has gotten a few picks lately too, with Ken Lucas & Deke Cooper leading the charge. Considering Todd Weiner handled Julius Peppers pretty easily last time I don't expect much from him.
Offense: DeShaun Foster has run well against the Falcons the past couple games so would expect that to continue. If Vinny starts the passing game should be improved but I wouldn't expect many big plays. He will take what the Falcons give him. Fox has hinted that Dwayne Jarrett may finally get off the inactive list and who knows, maybe even get in the game. DeAngelo Williams is always a threat to break one so keep an eye on him.
You didn't mention special teams but I have to. Our special teams have sucked so that may be where the Falcons can take advantage. We are terrible on returns and coverage and have had critical turnovers that have put our defense in a hole.
5. Can the Panthers win this division, and if so, what has to happen for them to do so?
Jaxon: Sure, this division is winnable by the Panthers, Bucs and Saints. (Sorry Falcon fans, at 2-6 you're probably cooked). For the Panthers to win it they need consistent play from QB with Vinny being the most likely to do it (now that statement is scary) and the defense has to get pressure on the opposing QB and create turnovers. The offensive play calling has got to improve as well. We aren't fooling anyone. The Bucs have an easier schedule so it will be an uphill battle.
As always thanks Dave and good luck to you.
A big thanks to the always gracious Jaxon, and be sure to check out Cat Scratch Reader for my answers to his questions. May the best team--and I'm going to ignore reality and say it's us--win handily.