Happy Friday one and all.
We talked with Walker Clement of Cat Scratch Reader to discuss what is going on with the Panthers.
1. The Carolina Panthers own the Arizona Cardinals. Yet have not had much success outside of that for the past three seasons. What do you attribute both of those to?
Injuries and suspect coaching decisions in each of those three years. That covers Ron Rivera’s last season with the Panthers and the totality of Matt Rhule’s current tenure. We aren’t in full “what if we’re cursed” territory yet, but the fanbase exists along a spectrum between dejected and numb at the moment. I posted a list of interim HC candidates for the Panthers after Rhule’s second loss this season and there were zero comments out of 299 that were in defense of Rhule’s job or suggesting that my speculation was premature. One win over a broken New Orleans Saints team last week was a start, but it certainly wasn’t enough to win us back on its own.
2. Baker Mayfield… Yes, no, maybe?
‘Maybe’ is the best answer I can give. We haven’t seen enough, either across the season or in any given game to know what this offense is either trying to be or capable of accomplishing. It is often hard to separate a new offensive coordinator’s mistakes from a new quarterback’s. Neither Ben McAdoo nor Mayfield are new to the NFL, but they are both new to the Panthers. In one sense, that means a change of scenery and a fresh start for both of them. My sense, however, is that the Panthers might be better served if they stopped asking questions that other teams already answered.
3. I think I know the answer. But who misses Haason Reddick more?
I would have said the Panthers, but Frankie Luvu has stepped up in a big way this season. He’s a five year veteran who spent three season with the Jets to start his career. He has made plays both in coverage and rushing the quarterback and is putting together a Pro Bowl caliber resume despite the overall lackluster season by the Panthers as a team. He goes a long way to shoot my “stop asking questions” pessimism in the foot.
4. Christian McCaffrey looks like he is back (I know he has a potential injury that could hold him out) so what has changed to help him get back?
Time. He is young and aggressive with his self care. Given time, that equation bends back towards health. Given time, his usage as the only viable offensive weapon in the Panthers arsenal has always bent away from health. Mayfield and McAdoo’s capacity to utilize Laviska Shenault, DJ Moore, Robbie Anderson, and a surprisingly strong TE committee will tell how that math gets solved this season.
5. Over/under the 43 set by DraftKings Sportsbook with the impending weather?
The Panthers have traditionally played well in hurricanes or hurricane-like conditions (looking at you 2011 Jacksonville game). They have also traditionally lost such contests valiantly. Still, I’d take the under. The Panthers have the perfect excuse to keep the ball on the ground most of the day, but they will still have multiple drives stall out due to their passing inefficiencies. If you put the over/under at 25.5 I might still take the under. Regardless, keep in mind that the Panthers at 1-25 in games in which their opponents score 17 or more points under Rhule. That is the Cardinals magic number..