1. What’s the future at the QB position for the Panthers?
The short answer is Cam Newton. The long answer depends on Newton’s health. If he can return to form--and stay there--then the Panthers will ride with him, no further questions asked. If not, then the team is in a bind. They can save about $20 million against next year’s cap by moving on from Newton, but that doesn’t leave them with a quarterback. Kyle Allen is not the answer. He is the least accurate deep passer in the league right now (3/18 on attempts over 20 yards downfield). Will Grier is apparently not good enough to warrant consideration at this time. If the team ends up moving on from Newton, which is not considered likely at this time, then the next Carolina Panthers quarterback could be just about anybody who isn’t Colin Kaepernick. It could even be Marcus Mariota.
2. Christian McCaffrey is seeing outrageous usage this year. Can he stay healthy if that keeps up? But with that being said, tell us how much fun it is to watch him play every week.
We’re certainly going to find out if McCaffrey’s usage is sustainable. The team has shown an active disinterest in resting him or pulling him from hopeless or unnecessary situations. He was still getting carries when the team trailed the 49ers by 30+ points in the fourth quarter last week. I wrote a month ago that his pace for touches in a game was dangerous and it as true today as it was then.
That said, it is a delight to watch him week in and week out. Whether he is flipping into the endzone, juking defenders out of their shoes, or just plain teleporting through piles of ould-be tacklers, we never know what he is going to do next.
There is nothing that we, as fans, can do to influence his usage. So we’ll just content ourselves to watch his career until he inevitably breaks. Until that time, our jaws will remain firmly rooted to the floor.
3. The 49ers torched the Panthers on the ground last week. The Titans would love nothing more than to hand the ball to Derrick Henry 30 times in this game and watch him do the same.What happened last week? Is it fixable?
Kyle Shanahan and Tevin Coleman happened. They are ancient nemeses of the Panthers dating back to their time together on the Atlanta Falcons. Derek Henry is a different kind of beast. The Panthers have a long history of shutting down big name, feature backs under Ron Rivera. They have a much worse history defending lesser known back ups, so make of that what you will.
As for whether or not it is fixable, the answer is no, but don’t let that excite you. The Panthers suffer a beat down like that almost every year. It comes mildly out of the blue and disappears just as quickly. The Titans still have more than one path to victory this weekend, but the 40 point difference is probably out of their reach.
4. Name a player that will have an impact on this game Titans fans have probably never heard of.
Dennis Daley is a rookie 6th round pick who is about to start his second game at left tackle and should be starting his third consecutive game at left tackle. The team’s original plan at left tackle, former All-Pro right tackle Daryl Williams, has apparently lost the requisite agility to block edge rushers. Their back up plan was rookie second round pick Greg Little. He’s been in the concussion protocol for most of the season. Enter Daley, who has played remarkably well for the most part compared to the expectations for a 6th round rookie at one of the hardest positions in football.
Whether or not his impact will be positive or negative remains to be seen. He could either hold up admirably well against the Titans front seven and be the silent reason why McCaffrey has an amazing day en route to a Panthers victory or Sunday could be the day he finally turns back into the pumpkin implied by his draft position, leaving him as the scapegoat for an offense that hasn’t really found an identity outside of a single running back since Newton’s injury.
5. What will the headline be in Nashville following the game on Sunday?
Christian McCaffrey brings the exotic to a smashmouth football game as Panthers wildly out rush the Titans
Thanks so much to Walker for taking the time to do this. You can head over to CSC to see the questions he asked me and my answers.