The third installment of the Davy Jones’ Locker series for 2019 is here. This series simply asks five questions to an opposing NFC South SB Nation outlet for each contest between Tampa Bay and their division opponent.
In Week 6, the Buccaneers fly to London for a “home” game to take on the Panthers on Sunday. This will be the final meeting between the two so Walker Clement from Cat Scratch Reader kindly joins us to answer five questions to help preview the game.
1. The Carolina defense seems to have come on strong in recent weeks. What is so different?
The pass rush has coalesced around its edge rushers. Even with a number of injuries--Gerald McCoy, Kawann Short (IR), and now Christian Miller have all missed time--the team is starting to figure out how it wins. That sounds banal, but the first couple of games the Panthers were a little all over the place in terms of execution and play calling. Ron Rivera is now trusting his guys up front to pressure the quarterback and his guys in the back to cover well enough to allow them to do that. His players, in turn, are living up to his trust.
2. There has been a lot of talk about Cam Newton and how the Panthers have been able to win without him. Is it because Christian McCaffrey has been featured more or Newton just trying to do too much before the team decided to rest him due to injury?
The team tried to do too much with Newton, if that makes sense. Stripping out all of the option runs from the playbook has been a real boon for McCaffrey’s season. Since Newton wasn’t actually a threat to run on his injured foot they were plays that were rarely going to advantage the offense. Plus, with Kyle Allen being a more limited passer, Norv Turner is taking fewer risks with his play calls. A safer game plan on offense behind a surging defense has largely fueled the team’s three game win streak.
3. What’s the deal with tight end Greg Olsen? Will we see more of him this week against a defense that struggles covering anyone? Is it that Kyle Allen just isn’t finding him? Kind of strange to see a reliable guy not get many looks.
He’s been doing a lot of pass protection in the wake of Daryl Williams assassination at the hands of Shaq Barrett. He’s also old and the Panthers have plenty of younger options. It is rare that the team needs a play, as they so often used to, from a guy who can run six to 12 yards and then fall down.
4. Let’s say James Bradberry is moved over to cover Chris Godwin more this game. How do you think Donte Jackson will do against Mike Evans?
Jackson, assuming he is healthy, should be a good match up for either. I think he’d actually have an easier time covering Evans since his speed will give him more latitude to recover from any mistakes he makes in coverage. Given Godwin’s success so far this season, it also wouldn’t be surprising to see the Panthers leave Bradberry on Evans and let Jackson, their fastest corner, and a safety double Godwin for much of the game.
5. It’s the second and final game of the 2019 regular season between these two teams. How do you think the game plays out? Who comes out on top?
I think the Bucs take this in a close game. They key off McCaffrey again and shut down the Panthers running game. Daring Kyle Allen to air it out is a surefire recipe for costly fumbles. Barrett will walk away as the MVP once again and, this time, as the toast of London.