The Carolina Panthers had a great comeback win against the Buffalo Bills last Thursday but the regular season is quickly approaching. Although there were some positives during the first contest, there is still plenty to work on.
Let’s take a look at what the Panthers need to work on against the Miami Dolphins.
What the Panthers Need to Work on Against the Dolphins
Chemistry within the Secondary
It’s obvious the secondary was a major issue during the first game. They were pretty quiet out there and Bills quarterback, Nathan Peterman, had no trouble exposing those guys on the first team.
The early Bills touchdown–a 28-yard reception from receiver Kelvin Benjamin–exposed the secondary. Of course, James Bradberry wasn’t out on the field and there’s no telling what he will do on his side of the field. He’s battling a groin injury and weak players in his position. In the game versus the Dolphins, let’s see how players like Donte Jackson and Kevon Seymour step up. It’s clear the secondary is the weakest position on the team. Who’s going to rise to the occasion?
One area that I have often said is the overlooked position on the team is the offensive line. Maybe not on other teams, but for some reason the Panthers seem to not put pro bowl stock in the offensive line like they should. Remember Byron Bell? He should have been a solid lineman for the team but his constant eating poorly (I know because I served him frequently) and late night partying showed that he had no discipline to be what the Panthers needed.
There are some constants like Trai Turner who’s in his fifth season and has made big plays for the team the last three seasons. Also, Ryan Kalil has been playing for 11 seasons with the Panthers and is playing his last season in the NFL. His brother Matt got paid big money to come to the Panthers a few years ago but has been an inconsistent player and I’m not sure he’s the right answer for them.
This game against the Dolphins will begin to answer the question of who gets the start in place of Andrew Norwell? Look out for the younger Kalil and Daryl Williams to make a name for themselves through the preseason. Having a good offensive line is imperative but everyone has to do their part. Who steps up for these guys?
Who will be Number Two?
It’s true–the most competitive position of the first game was for QB2. Being the number two quarterback for the Panthers means sitting behind Cam Newton which is a tall task in and of itself.
One thing I noticed about Taylor Heinicke is that he was not afraid to run the ball. Why is that important you ask? It’s important because whoever backs up Newton doesn’t need to be afraid of that. Of course, Heinicke needs to play the game he knows and if running is part of that, it only makes him a dual threat as well. He led the Panthers on two drives that ended in touchdowns.
Garrett Gilbert held his own as well. He went 7/12 passing for 93 yards and one touchdown. Those stats are solid for a backup candidate but he’s been in the league four more years than Heinicke.
What this game will tell us is who will be the more consistent quarterback. Judging by this first game, Heinicke seems to have the edge but let’s see what this next game gives us. Will there be a clear-cut frontrunner?
There is still plenty for the Panthers to figure out the next few games. Getting the roster down to 53 is not an easy task but is one that Carolina shouldn’t take lightly if they don’t want to follow their 11-5 season with another mediocre one. There are plenty of things left to figure out.