Across the fansided network each week during this season, we will be doing a quick Q&A with the Falcons’ opponents for that week. This week I had a chance to talk with Taylor Barbour from Cat Crave about this Sundays match up between the Falcons and Panthers.
Blogging Dirty – Cam Newton has had an incredible start to his rookie season. How has he started playing so well, so quickly?
Cat Crave – I think a lot of people underestimated how prepared Newton was for the NFL. He has looked like a 10-year veteran in my opinion. He’s extremely confident in the pocket and is one of the most atheltic players on the field. But I think the biggest thing is the coaching staff. They haven’t thrown to much on him and have simplified the play book a bit. Also, they have implemented a few plays Newton ran in college, like the quarterback read, which Newton is extremely comfortable with.
BD – Despite numerous brave efforts, Carolina are 1-4. Do the Panthers deserve to have a better record? Do you see them being in the NFC South race later in the season?
CC – Yes and no. The Panthers have played much, much better than their 1-4 record implies. In all four losses the Panthers had a chance and in a couple should have won. They havent lost a game by more than seven points and could easily be 2-3, or even 3-2. As far as competing in the NFC South race this season, I just don’t see it. The Saints have a pretty big lead and with the injuries the Panthers have had on the defensive side of the ball, I just don’t think they will be able to sustain a long enough run to get back into the race.
BD – On Defense, how are the Panthers performing considering the injuries to linebackers John Beason and Thomas Davis? Who has been the standout player on that side of the ball?
CC – The standout player has really been defensive end Charles Johnson. Johnson signed a huge deal this offseason and has really lived up to it. He is leading the team in sacks with four and has 16 tackles. He has really been a force on a defensive line this is maybe of of rookies and second year players.
BD – What has to happen for Carolina to win the game?
CC – If Carolina wants to win this game they have to stop Michael Turner. The Panthers are near the bottom of the league in rushing defense and they will need to stop Turner from slicing them up. If the Panthers can limit Turner’s effectiveness they can force Matt Ryan to beat them through the air, which should be a bit tougher this week with rookie wide receiver Julio Jones out for the Falcons.
BD – What has to happen for Atlanta to win the game?
CC – Contain Newton. If the Falcons want to win they have to keep Newton in the pocket. If he escapes and is able to move outside of the pocket big plays happen. He can do it with his legs rushing the ball or throwing on the move. If they can force Newton to stay in the pocket and have to beat them with short throws,something Newton has struggled with, then they should have a good shot.
BD – Finally, Predictions for the game and give a score please.
CC – I think the Panthers pull out the upset victory. I know it has been a popular pick and I like the way Newton and this team is progressing. They continue to get better each week and I think they finally breakthrough against the Falcons, winning 30-24.