Post game stat review: the Panthers offense continues to flourish For the second consecutive week Carolina Panthers T-Shirt , the Panthers offense stole the headlines. While last week a Cam Newton to Christian McCaffrey aerial assault led a valiant comeback attempt, this week saw a more traditional ground attack take center stage. Christian McCaffrey racked up 184 rushing yards on a bell-cow worthy 28 touches, something I was told his delicate frame could not handle. Now with 271 rushing yards on the season, the sophomore running back sits just 3 yards behind league leaders Ezekiel Elliot and Matt Breida. To top it all off, McCaffrey716a49b370d4862bc6f9afa3d03587a1.jpg is also 8th in the league in receptions with 22 through three games. Since extrapolating three games worth of data is fun, McCaffrey is on pace for 1,445 rushing yards and 667 receiving yards on 117 catches, though he’s yet to hit pay dirt. While McCaffrey picked up chunks of yardage on the ground, it was ultimately Cam Newton that accounted for all four of the team’s touchdowns. Newton’s two rushing touchdowns give him 57 for his career Carolina Panthers Hats , 12 more than any NFL quarterback ever. He’s now accounted for 8 touchdowns on the season and sports a 99.7 passer rating, the highest of his career. Newton and McCaffrey unsurprisingly find themselves on Pro Football Focus’s top 5 Panthers offensive players of the week for the second consecutive week. Joining the duo on the repeat honoree list is right tackle Taylor Moton, who received the team’s second highest grade last week. He’s been an anchor on a surprisingly capable offensive line and looks the part of a long term solution at the tackle position for the Panthers. The defensive side of the ball was more of a mixed bag. While the turnovers are nice and limited the Bengals offense, the Panthers defense still ceded 6.5 yards per play on the day. They now allow 6.01 yards per play on the season, the 7th worst mark in the league. The saving grace for this defense has been the 6 takeaways and the respectable third down defense. The defensive superstar of the day was first year player Efe Obada who recorded a sack, an interception, and a near forced fumble on just 19 defensive snaps. That snap count is probably on the rise. In other snap count news, Julius Peppers played 45% of the defense’s snaps, by far his highest count this year. That didn’t translate to the box score Carolina Panthers Hoodie , as the 17 year vet only registered a single quarterback hit on the day. While Obada was making waves in the trenches, rookie Donte Jackson stole the show on the back end. The rookie hauled in two interceptions on the day, which gives him a league best three (along with two others) through the season’s first three weeks. His strong performance landed him on PFF’s list of the Panthers top five performers on the defensive side of the ball. Kawann Short makes the list for the third time in as many weeks while adding another tackle for loss to his season total. Kyle Love probably made the list solely thanks to the near butt fumble he caused on Giovani Bernard off tackle run. Linebacker Luke Kuechly returns to the top 5 list after a shaky performance in Atlanta.Shaq Thompson and Colin Jones paced the team in tackles with 8 apiece while Jones also led the team in times seen chasing wide receivers after allowing a deep completion (I may have made that stat up). Mario Addison notched another sack, giving him a team 2.5 on the season and putting him on pace for his second straight double digit sack season. Through three games the Panthers offense ranks 15th and 13th in yards and points respectively while the defense ranks 19th and 12th in those same categories. Eric Washington had a strong debut performance against the Cowboys. In his first game as defensive coordinator, he saw his defense stifle the Dallas offense, allowing only 232 yards and a single late touchdown. While Dallas will likely struggle offensively a lot this year, that doesn’t take away from the fact that only two teams gave up fewer yards and fewer points than the Panthers, and one of them was playing the Bills, so they don’t really count. This weekend’s test will be much tougher. The Panthers will hit the road for the first time this season to take on a Falcons offense that has all the pieces to be a dominant group. Last year Matt Ryan and friends finished the season 8th in total yards Customized Carolina Panthers Jerseys , proving that they’re capable of moving the ball. However, the Falcons finished the season just 15th in scoring thanks to their red zone struggles. Those red zone woes popped up again in the Falcons season opener in Philadelphia. They managed to work their way into the red zone five times and to the Philadelphia 25 yard line on a sixth occasion and only managed one single touchdown. That leads us to our keys to the game:Don’t get beat by the deep ball to Julio Jones or anyone else. Jones kicked off his 2018 campaign by hauling in 10 of 19 targets for 169 yards against a strong Eagles defense. He does most of his damage far away from the end zone but has the potential to take any catch to the house. Keeping the Falcons aforementioned red zone struggles in mind, the Panthers should take extra care to not give up any long touchdowns. Make the Falcons prove they can put the ball in the end zone from in close. Trust the front four to get to Matt Ryan. This one is tough. The Falcons have a good offensive line, so the temptation to blitz a lot to generate pressure will be there. But Ryan has been very good against pressure throughout his career, including last season when he posted the 7th best passer rating against the blitz. The pass rush getting to the quarterback is as important as always, but bringing extra players in to rush at the expense of the secondary plays right into one of Ryan’s strengths as a quarterback. Leave Julio Jones open in the end zone. Jones is apparently physically incapable of catching red zone touchdowns. I mean, look at this:And watch this too:The Panthers almost certainly won’t have the same success this Sunday that they had in week one, but that’s okay. The Falcons offense is a tough one to match up against. The key will be for the defense to keep plays in front of them and count on the Falcons to collapse in the red zone like they have been for the past season plus.
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