Awaiting our showdown versus the Carolina Panthers I had a nice conversation with Taylor Barbour of the Panthers blog Cat Crave (www.catcrave.com) discussing some key points. You can catch my answers on their site as well. Without further delay here were the questions asked…
1) First things first… Quarterbacks. How excited is Carolina over Cam Newton and what already makes him an elite QB?
The Panthers are ecstatic over what Newton has already done so early in his NFL career; he has really been unbelievable up to this point, especially with so little NFL experience. But I believe what makes him so special is his athletic ability and his mental toughness. At any point he is pretty much the most athletic player on the field. He can run over you or around you, not to mention his huge arm. But mentally, nothing is to big for him. The moment never gets to big for Newton. He understands the game and is a winner.
2) DeAngelo Williams & Jonathan Stewart seem to split carries. Who in your opinion is the better back & why?
If I had to choose the better all around running back I would say Stewart. He is a bit better pass catcher and blocker but as just a running back DeAngelo Williams is better. Williams is one of the most explosive runners in the NFL and can take any play to the house. He is quick but has some power too. Stewart on the other hand thrives with contact he looks for it and loves to run people over. I think the two compliment each other perfectly and both don’t seem to mind splitting carries.
3) We’re familiar with Ron Rivera being a former player & defensive coordinator in Chicago. What’s been your impression thus far?
I like what Rivera has done. You can tell on a few things that he is young and a bit inexperienced as a head coach but he is learning. He already has as many wins as the team had last year and that is a credit on him. He has completely changed the mentality of this team and I think has done a really good job.
4) Tell us one player on your defense to look out for other than defensive end Charles Johnson.
James Anderson without a doubt. With Jon Beason and Thomas Davis out with injuries Anderson has really stepped his game up. Anderson has gotten better and better each season and has really exploded this year. He is leading the Panthers in tackles and has been a monster against the run.
5) Sticking with defense… Carolina ranks 29th against the run. What will be done to stop Adrian Peterson? Remember he had his best game of the season last week with Christian Ponder under center.
I am really worried about this matchup. Peterson is an absolute beast and the Panthers have a putrid run defense. The problem is the team lost two starting linebackers and has two rookie defensive tackles both starting. They are young so it will have to be a team effort to bring Peterson down. Look for a lot of eight and nine man boxes to help stop Peterson, meaning the Panthers will dare Ponder to beat them.
Bonus Question — Game Prediction?
I think the Panthers will win this one 27-17. They have been playing extremely well, much better than their 2-5 record says and I think if they can just contain Peterson, not stop him because that will be impossible, they will be fine. Ponder played well last week but I think the Panthers can get to him and make him force a few turnovers.
Special thanks to Taylor Barbour for answering our questions. Should be a fun matchup. Skol Vikings!
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig