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5 Questions With Cat Scratch

Gearing up for our game with the Carolina Readers ChiFan and myself put together a few questions to help get a better idea of what we would be up againts.  Our Carolina blogger at Cat Scratch Reader was cool enought to hook us up.

1)  After week one, we're surprisingly both 1-0. What were the key factors of the Chargers game?

TE Dante Rosario’s heroic catch got a lot of press and he had a great game but honestly the win was a result of two things: The Panthers were able to run the ball effectively for most of the game and the defense held LT to under 100 yards rushing and no TD’s. I have to also mention that the offense as whole runs on the leadership of QB Jake Delhomme. He brings confidence that rubs off on the rest of team and when the game is on the line he’s one of the best in the game today behind center.

2)  In the last two meetings Carolina had versus the Bears Steve Smith totaled 26 passes for 378 yards and 2 TDs, he will not be playing.  You brought back Mushin Muhammad, but have a young receiving corps. Could you give us a quick rundown of that position?  What will be the hardest thing to replace with Steve Smith out?

There’s no replacing what Steve Smith brings to the Panther offense but what Jake did last week was spread the ball around. Seven players caught passes last week, 3 WR’s, 2 TE’s and 2 RB’s. The Bears can expect more of the same with Moose, DJ Hackett and new found weapon TE Dante Rosario getting the lion’s share. What the Panthers will still lack is a deep threat but that doesn’t mean they still won’t try going deep to keep the defense honest. The Panthers tried to go deep against the Chargers with both Moose and Hackett with no success.

3)  The Panthers have a nice looking running game.  Last week versus a good defense Williams averaged a 4.8 yard per average while rookie Jonathan Stewart averaged 5.3.  Do the Panthers depend on their run game to setup their offense?

Yes, without a doubt. The Panthers will deploy of mixture of runs and short passes to try and keep the defense off-balance. Though it may be seem futile to even try it against a stout Bears run defense they will try to run right up the middle and will keep doing it even it doesn’t work at first. Williams and Stewart will rotate though Williams will continue to get more carries (18 to 8 last week). Both runners are very adept at the cut back so expect a number of the runs to be misdirection plays to take advantage of the Bears aggressiveness.

4) The Panthers have always seemed to have a stout defense, yet they allowed Tomlinson ran for 97 yards with a 4.6 average after not having played in the preseason.  Was that a result of it just being LT or is the Panthers run defense something that can be taken advantage of?

I thought holding LT to just 97 yards and no TD’s was a major accomplishment! The Panthers rushing defense was the strength of the defense last week and I expect more of the same against the Bears. Though I think the Panthers have a talented secondary the defense gave up three passing TD’s to the Chargers. The problem was a lack of a pass rush which I think is going to be their challenge all season. I expect the Panthers to focus on stopping the run first in the hopes of forcing 3rd and longs and hope Orton makes some mistakes and bad passes.

5) Finally, what do the Panthers need to do to beat the Bears?

Score more points! Okay, my non-smart ass answer is to stop the run, run the ball effectively and avoid turnovers, the obvious things I realize. What might not be so obvious is TE play by both teams. The Panthers have a hard time covering TE’s in the middle of the field and conversely Dante Rosario is no flash-in-the-pan. The kid is an incredible athlete with great hands who has a knack for getting open. I think the TE’s will weigh heavily on both sides of the ball. One last thing, I think the Panthers need to keep Devin Hester from making big plays on special teams, something I’m very worried about.

You didn’t ask but I’m going to give it anyway: Panthers 19 Bears 16