As many of you here know by now, I live in North Carolina and, as such, get the Panthers game every week, which I usually watch. I have been watching them with some interest this year because Cam Newton has been such a boss.
The Panthers are 1-4, just one game behind us, and could not only tie us with a victory this week, but put us in a hole that would likely doom us to living without a playoff berth.
My question to you all is simple: The game against the Panthers is at home in the Dome. I feel like the turnout won't be as high as it would've been if we'd beaten the Pack (and that's a real shame) but it's still at home, where we're nearly unbeatable.
For every time Cam has looked good, he has also looked pretty bad. Their 1-2 RB punch is one of the best in the league, but we've done a good job of stopping the run this year.
To win this game, we have to do two things. 1) Stop the run, and 2) Stop Steve Smith. The beauty of Steve Smith is that he's small, which means putting Brent Grimes on him 1v1 is in Grimes's favor. Smith is still a heck of an athlete, but so is Grimes, and Grimes's lack of height disadvantage will be nullified by the also-short Smith. If we can keep a lid on Smith, the rest will be easy. The pass rush will be integral to this. We don't need to sack Cam, just make him hurry. Keep a spy on him like we did Rodgers (at times) and Vick, and he won't be able to run far.
Cam's strength is his ability to run and his size. He has a great arm, but he's still inexperienced, and forcing him to unload a pass quickly will be his downfall. One of his knocks coming out of college was that he was a "Single read, then run" QB because he wasn't smart enough to grasp a complex offense. Regardless of the truth in that, his head is probably still spinning at times when he's on the field, and believe it or not, BVG's complex zone scheme is (if it's run worth a junk) the perfect poison to an inexperienced QB.
I really think the zone will work, with the exception that Grimes plays man on Steve Smith. Smith is still one of the fastest men in the league, but Grimes can handle him.
I don't want to say all our problems will be cured this week, but we've shown we can play ball (The first half of the GB game was Super Bowl quality ball, folks) so we just have to tap into that, but for a longer period this time.
I think it's time we showed Cam that we're the real deal. Will we? What say you?