CBJ: We know and love Ron Rivera in Chicago. How do you guys feel about him with the Panthers? Are you happy with the hire?
Slate: Obviously Rivera is a change from the conservative coaching of John Fox, so for that we love him. He is offering the fans a new style of offense that is fun to watch, and effective. Rivera has proved already that he can win games, even though the Panthers are 1-2 we’ve held our own in the 2 losses. I am personally happy with the hire, because it finally gives us a chance to be a serious contender. Rivera has free range to do what he wants because the team is so young.
CBJ: Many questioned the pick of Cam Newton. Obviously he’s showing signs of being an excellent quarterback. What are your thoughts?
Slate: At first I was quite angry when the Panthers drafted Newton. In my mind he had yet to prove himself with only one season as a starter for a Div 1 school. As the preseason progressed I was again questioning the move, because Newton was obviously struggling to grasp the NFL style of play. After the first 3 weeks, I believe Newton can be our franchise QB. He didn’t put up outstanding numbers against Jacksonville, but he was playing in a monsoon. I love Newton and think he is our ticket back to the Superbowl.
CBJ: Any feelings on the Chicago Bears?
Slate: Many Panthers fans have bad feelings towards the Bears because of Peppers. I may be one of those fans, but I still think the Bears are a good team. The only problem: keeping Cutler on his feet. Cutler is a good QB and if he had more protection he could be one of the better QBs in the league.
CBJ: The Panthers will win this game if… The Bears will win this game if…
Slate: The Panthers will win if Newton throws less than 3 picks. He is a rookie so mistakes will happen, but he didn’t throw a pick this Sunday and we walked away with the win. Also, having a viable running game might help. Now, the Bears will win if they can control the clock and keep Newton off the field. Newton is a great leader and needs to be kept in check if teams want to beat him.
CBJ: Who are some players for us to watch on Sunday that aren’t so well known?
Slate: Brandon Lafell is one WR to watch out for. He is currently our #3 receiver but Naanee has yet to be as productive as Lafell. His unknown status causes team to stick a lesser CB on him, and Newton has began to take notice. With Steve Smith drawing double coverage, look for Newton to check down with Lafell. Also watch out for Armanti Edwards in the return game. The guy has speed and is very good at what he does.
CBJ: Game prediction…
Slate: I hate to go against my Cats so my prediction stands at 27-17 Panthers. I expect Newton to again light it up with a possibility of another 400 yard game.
Slate may have had a bit too much cat nip on that prediction, but the man is entitled to his opinion. Follow me on Twitter at ChicagoBearJew.