Walker Clement of Cat Scratch Reader, the Carolina Panthers blog for SB Nation, was nice enough to answer five questions about his Panthers for us ahead of tomorrow’s game with the Tennessee Titans. You will notice that he isn’t high on Bryce Young at this point. That’s understandable, but I will die on the hill that Young is going to be a franchise quarterback. Some of that could be my Bama bias, but I watched him elevate an Alabama team last year that wasn’t very good. He can play quarterback.
Anyway, here is my Q&A with Walker:
1. What is your impression of Bryce Young so far? Can he be a franchise QB?
I’ve been saying “it’s too early to tell” after every loss this season, which is to say that I’ve been saying it a lot. It’s technically true that is too early to tell. The supporting cast he has, from the coaches to his teammates, gives him so little to work with that we don’t know where the Panthers failings end and Young’s begin.
The only thing I can say definitively is that Young has yet to put the team on his shoulders and elevate them. Maybe that’s an impossible task, maybe it’s an impossible task for him. Either way, Young doesn’t have a lot of staunch supporters amongst the Panthers fan base. Just loud critics and a lot of people sitting comfortably on the fence for the time being.
2. There has been a lot of back and forth on who calls the offensive plays. Where does that stand now and who do you think is the better playcaller?
Frank Reich has taken back control of play calling through the end of the season, we think. As for who is the better play caller? I’d bet money that he is on the Titan’s sideline.
3. Where is the best place the Titans’ offense can attack the Panthers’ defense?
On the field. The team has maintained a pretty team oriented demeanor in public, but that only lasts for about a half on the field before depth and injuries wear out.
I actually picked the Panthers to win this game, yet I can’t, with any confidence, tell you one part of the defense is weaker than the rest because it has all failed at multiple points throughout the season. The Titans just need to focus on their own strengths and trust that they’ll wear Carolina’s players out by the end of the third quarter, if not sooner.
4. Give us a player we have never heard of that will have an impact on this game.
The name was going to be DiCaprio Bootle, a third year cornerback that entered the league undrafted. He has stepped up while Jaycee Horn has been on injured reserve, but now he’s on IR himself and Horn might be back. Honestly, the defense has a lot of guys with reputations around the league, like Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, Frankie Luvu, Donte Jackson, Xavier Woods, and Vonn Bell. The problem is that these are the only guys who have a positive impact on the game.
I only mention the defense because there has yet to be a Panthers offensive player who has had a positive impact on a game in the 2023 season. If you just want ‘impact’ then keep your eyes on (probable) left guard Chandler Zavala, a rookie. He has been a regular turnstile at the position and is just the thing to cure a struggling pass rushers reputation on the opposing team.
5. The Titans are a 3.5-point favorite and the total sits at 36.5 at DraftKings. What is your favorite bet in this game?
Like I said, I picked the Panthers to win. I stand by that pick and I also cannot really explain it. The team got their running game off the ground for the first time all season against the Dallas Cowboys’ stout front seven, only to lose their starting right guard, Austin Corbett, to injured reserve again.
Can they build on what they showed last week or will Corbett’s injury be too much of a setback? That’s the question that is going to decide whether or not this game is competitive. That makes it really hard to predict both the outright winner and the spread.
If you want a favorite bet, take the under on Bryce Young’s passing yards. That rarely fails to hit, no matter where it is set.
You can head over to CSR to see Walker’s questions with my answers.