Keys to victory: Panthers edition

Keys to victory: Panthers edition

Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert will get at least one more week to show case what he can do. I know some didn’t like the comments made by head coach Anthony Lynn when he said “he is a backup for a reason” when asked about why Justin Herbert won’t be the starter once Tyrod Taylor is healthy. Regardless of how anyone may or may not feel we will get one more look at the kid and we will see how much of an aberration last week was or if that’s really what we can expect on a full time basis out of him. This week the Chargers have a very winnable matchup against the Carolina Panthers especially since they will be without superstar running back Christian McCaffery. Once again we take a look at what are some key matchups within the game to keep an eye on that will ultimately lead the outcome of the game one way or the other.

Run the ball and run some more:

As it would turn out the Panthers rank dead last in stopping the run this year’s small sample size. Actually it even goes back beyond that dating back to last season. The Panthers have allowed 33 rushing touchdowns in the last 18 games. In fact it is so bad that during the span of the last 18 games no other team has allowed more than 19 rushing touchdowns. Needless to say it seems that the Panthers are hemorrhaging giving up rushing touchdowns and with the Ekeler and Kelley combo mixed in with Justin Herbert’s rushing ability I would go very heavy run offense. Considering they have been using pistol formations mixed in with Run pass options and pitch tosses I would say this is something the team already brings to the table regardless.

Bolts D line vs Former Bolts O lineman :    

Carolina’s offensive line has performed below average as a unit so far this season and has bailed out in large part by McCaffery’s elusiveness. Without CMC Carolina’s run game is likely to struggle and theoretically be exposed by the Chargers defensive line. In fact Chargers fans should be more than familiar with some of the faces on the Carolina line and well aware how much they are prone to struggle. In the offseason the Chargers traded away left tackle Russell Okung in exchange for right guard Trai Turner. So far Okung has performed better than anyone else along the line for the panthers grading out with a76.6 overall grade by pro football focus, yet somehow I like the matchup between Okung and Melvin Ingram. Ingram should be able to wear Okung down throughout the course of the game. The biggest exposers should come from the right side for the Panthers. Asking the incumbent Michael Schofield to block the likes of Joseph Linval is simply comedy as we as Charger fans all remember what he did to Schofield last year when they went against the Vikings where Linval seemingly had his with Schofield. Schofield so far throughout the course of the season hasn’t done much else than what we expected coming in with a 58 overall grade. Even if they asked center Matt Paradis to help double team Linval who has a 56.6 overall grade on the season it shouldn’t be much help slowing him down as he will once again occupy two lineman on his own. That leaves a glaring spot where right tackle Taylor Moton (64 pass block grade) will be left on an island to deal with the likes of Joey Bosa.         Jeremy chinn 46.7 coverage 43.1 overall     shaq thom 53.6

Exposing Carolina’s coverage in the slot:

So far Carolina has tasked a pair of rookies to handle the coverage in the slot through the first two weeks of the season. Second round pick Jeremy Chinn is considered a hybrid player. Not considered a true linebacker or a true safety. Chinn was even referred to as the poor man’s Isaiah Simmons who was a widely sought after first round hybrid player. Chinn has handled the bulk of snaps in the slot and needless to say has struggled to the tune of a 43.1 overall defensive grade along with a 46.7 coverage grade. The other rookie who has had some time in the slot is Troy Pride jr who has struggled even more so than Chinn. Pride has an overall defensive grade of 30 overall along with a coverage grade of 44. With this being considered a sever weak spot in the Panthers defense the Chargers could look to utilize Jalen Guyton more often this week who has been the primary slot receiver thus far. I would like to see the team put fifth round rookie Joe Reed in the slot but I doubt we see much of that. What is more likely though is seeing Austin Ekeler split out wide into the slot to try and take advantage of the glaring weak spot. In fact what the Panthers have been doing is splitting out their outside linebackers to cover the slot most of the time as they figure Chinn and Shaq Thomson have the coverage ability. So getting either Ekeler or Joshua Kelley in space on outside runs would also be a good plan of attack. Last week we saw a lot of pitch toss runs that worked like a charm and I see no reason why it would not present a similar result this week.

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