Panthers vs. Jaguars: Q&A With the Enemy's Brandon Croce had a chance to talk with's Charlie Bernstein about the upcoming Carolina Panthers Week 1 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

How has Blake Bortles looked this preseason for the Jacksonville Jaguars? Does he look like he has improved from his rookie season?

Charlie: Blake Bortles has looked like a completely different guy in the preseason.  He's confident, decisive, accurate and displayed much better mechanics.  The difference is literally night and day.  His numbers were very good and they should have been much better as he was the victim of 8 drops in the three games he played. 

Cam Newton's mechanics have always been an issue.  Will he be better this season and if so, why?

Brandon: The Carolina Panthers’ coaching staff has spent a lot of time working on his mechanics and during OTAs talked about how they were improved. After watching him in the preseason, I am not sure I see a huge improvement. The passes still seem to be off target, usually going high. This is why the Panthers have targeted big wide receivers like Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. They are looking for players who can go up and pull those passes back down.

Who is one player that Panthers fans should be watching for on the Jaguars who they may not know much about?

Charlie: Wide receiver Allen Robinson is really coming into his own as a No. 1 wide receiver in this league.  With Julius Thomas injured, Robinson will likely be the top target in the passing game and he runs excellent routes, has good speed and will put up numbers this season.  

Greg Olsen is obviously the best weapon in the passing game for Carolina.  If the Jaguars can take him out of the game, who else can beat one-on-one coverage?

Brandon: The key for the Jaguars cornerbacks will be if they are able to jam Ted Ginn Jr. and Philly Brown at the line of scrimmage. If they don't bump them off the line, both are incredibly fast and will leave the defense in the dust. They can stretch defenses and Cam certainly has the arm strength to get the ball deep. They are smaller type wide receivers though and if they are not able to get off the line clean, they will struggle.

Why did the Jaguars struggle on defense last year, finishing 26th in total yards against? Do you see them improving this year?

Charlie: There are a lot of reasons why the defense struggled, a lot of it was personnel-wise.  The safety positions were horrific, there wasn't a consistent pass rush and the offense put them in bad situations. They should be improved somewhat this season as they signed DE Jared Odrick, LB Dan Skuta, have LB Paul Posluszny back from injury, and inked CB Davon House and S Sergio Brown.  That's five new starters with the return of their defensive captain.  They have more talent, but there are still issues with he pass rush. 


We know about the great Luke Kuechly.  How much do you expect first-round pick Shaq Thompson to play and how has he been in preseason?

Brandon: Shaq Thompson started off slow during the preseason due to some injury issues but when he gets on the field, he has looked very good. He was a hybrid safety/linebacker in college so he really excels in pass coverage and will be able to stay with pretty much every tight end in the league. The biggest question mark around him is how he will perform against the run. In college, he struggled to get off blocks to get to the ball carrier and he has shown that during the preseason. I think early in 2015, the strongside linebacker position will be by committee with Thompson out there for what would be considered passing downs and veteran A.J. Klein stepping in more on run plays.

Follow me on Twitter @BrandonCroce.

Follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie.

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