Behind enemy lines: Week 10 Q&A preview with Panthers Wire

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Arizona Cardinals are home in Week 10 to take on a struggling Carolina Panthers team. They are 4-5 after starting the season 3-0 and they will have a young backup in P.J. Walker starting at quarterback.

The defense is formidable but the offense has struggled.

The Cardinals lost to this squad last season, although with Teddy Bridgewater as the starting quarterback.

But to get ready for the game, Panthers Wire managing editor Anthony Rizzuti takes us “behind enemy lines” to give Cardinals fans some insight to the team he covers and that the Cardinals face this weekend.

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

Latest show:


Previous shows:


and


From 3-0 to 4-5

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

So the Panthers started out 3-0. Now at 4-5, what has happened?

Quite simply—the problems that were supposed to be problems but weren’t problems for those first three games have now become problems. Simple, right?

Well, the Panthers came into the 2021 season with two major question marks—one about the ability of their quarterback and the other about the stability of their offensive line. And, for that 3-0 start, those two spots held their ground relatively nicely.

But, as they’ve seen an uptick in competition and adversity, the bottom has completely fallen out. Sam Darnold has quickly reverted back to the frantic, uncertain, volatile guy he’s always been under center while the line—with the assistance of a handful of injuries—will be rolling out is the seventh different combination in Week 10.

Add in the fact that their safety valve and superstar Christian McCaffrey had missed five of those contests, and you have a recipe for the listless, dysfunctional offense they’ve become.

QB decisions

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Can you make sense of the Panthers’ quarterback decisions over the last couple of years? And with Sam Darnold going down with the scapula fracture, considering his play recently, is it a blessing or a curse?

It seems like the Panthers were trying to be the smartest guys in the room with their quarterback decisions. And that may sound odd, because who’s smart enough to trust Teddy Bridgewater and Darnold with a rebuild? But you can’t help but think they were trying to be too slick and resourceful when spending on the position.

The $21 million a year they were trying to give Bridgewater wouldn’t have been that bad, as long as he was capable. And the second and fourth-round picks, as well as the $19 million fifth-year option, they devoted to Darnold wouldn’t be either, had he panned out into the prospect they thought he was. Both, obviously, have proven otherwise.

Also, calling an injury a “blessing” may be bad form, but Darnold’s absence has helped give way to the signing of Cam Newton. So, whether this return is a successful one or not, the rest of the road on this bumpy 2021 campaign certainly won’t be a boring one.

2021 Panthers vs. 2020 Panthers

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

How different is this Panthers team from the one that beat the Cardinals last season?

Instead of both the offense and defense coming along in harmony, they’ve really grown apart from one another since that matchup.

While Carolina’s 2020 defense did go through an early learning curve, they consistently improved and flashed signs of promise. And with their key pieces in defensive linemen Brian Burns and Derrick Brown, linebacker Shaq Thompson and defensive backs Jeremy Chinn and Donte Jackson all showing out thus far—the unit, under coordinator Phil Snow’s tutelage, has taken a considerable step up in 2021.

The offense now, as compared to last year, is in shambles. Again, they’ve been worse off at quarterback, their offensive line is ever-changing and their wideout duo of DJ Moore and Robby Anderson has not been properly fed. This is, of course, why the team hopes Newton’s return can provide a much-needed spark . . . just probably not this week.

Haason Reddick's play

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

How good has Haason Reddick been, even beyond the sack numbers?

Reddick has undoubtedly been the MVP of the defense. And, yes, those 8.5 sacks have a lot to do with it.

But, even when he’s not chalking up takedowns, the former Cardinal is making his presence felt. He’s currently, according to Pro Football Focus, second on the team in pressures (24) and first in stops (25).

He’s been a constant force, amidst a handful of big-name injuries throughout the season, on what’s now the league’s second-stingiest defense.

Matchups to watch

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Which matchups will you have your eyes on this weekend?

We should definitely keep an eye on that last guy we just talked about and his pass-rushing partner in Brian Burns—who is likely to suit despite a sprained ankle. How they perform against Arizona’s bookend blockers in D.J. Humphries and Kelvin Beachum will have an intriguing impact on the game.
Conversely, the Panthers’ offensive front must figure out a way to keep linebackers Chandler Jones and Markus Golden out of the pocket.

Prediction

What’s the final score and how does it go down?

This’ll be a tough one for Carolina to pull out, whether Arizona is with or without starting quarterback Kyler Murray. Things could, though, get a little interesting if Colt McCoy isn’t as clean as he was last week.

That said, I just can’t see this Panthers offense doing enough right now—especially against this stout Cardinals defense. Cardinals 27, Panthers 13.

1

1