To say the Panthers offense has struggled the past three weeks would be a major understatement. After scoring 37 points against Cincinnati, the Panthers have only scored 36 points total in the three games since then.
Against the Eagles, the Panthers need to find a balance between run and pass and make it a point to get the ball to their playmakers. On the ground, Jonathan Stewart has been the Panthers best running back and since coming back from injury is averaging 4.7 yards per carry.
The problem is that he isn’t getting the ball enough to really have an impact on the game. Against the Saints, Stewart and DeAngelo Williams each had eight carries but Williams was only able to gain 20 yards while Stewart picked up 46.
If Carolina is able to get Stewart going on Monday night, it should make Cam Newton’s job a little easier and make the passing attack much more effective. Newton is coming off his worst game of his career, one that he was only able to complete 35.7 percent of his passes.
If Newton wants to improve his numbers he has to start by throwing to tight end Greg Olsen. Through the first seven games of the year, Olsen was targeted 8.4 times per game. The last two games, Olsen has been targeted a total of seven times and has a combined 46 receiving yards. There was only one game in the first seven weeks that Olsen had less than 50 yards.
If the Panthers lean heavily on Stewart and Olsen, they should have a much better performance than they have in recent weeks.
- Pressure Mark Sanchez and force him to make mistakes
- Eliminate big plays
The Eagles offensive line has done an excellent job of limiting sacks, currently ranked third in the NFL with 11 sacks. Those numbers are with Nick Foles under center and not Mark Sanchez, who will be under center for the injured Foles. The Panthers are going to have to find a way to limit the time Sanchez has in the pocket.
It remains to be seen how Sanchez will play, who is making his first NFL start since 2012. There is sure to be some rust for the Eagles quarterback and pressuring Sanchez should force him into turnovers. This has been a weak point in Sanchez’s career, who has 71 interceptions in 63 games.
If the Panthers are able to accomplish the first point, it would help with the second point of the defensive game plan to eliminate big plays. The Eagles offense is one of the most explosive in the NFL with Jeremy Maclin at wide receiver and LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles coming out of the backfield. If the Panthers can keep the play in front of them it would be a huge plus for them.
According to Sporting Charts, the Carolina Panthers have given up the sixth most big plays in the NFL (47) while the Eagles offense ranks sixth in big plays with (47). This is one area that the Eagles have a distinct advantage and if the Panthers can win this battle, they have a much better chance of ending their slide.