Carolina Panthers: Who Needs Bye Week The Most?
The Carolina Panthers Who Need the Bye Week Most
The Carolina Panthers' season seemed to be headed in a familiar direction as they strolled into Bank of America Stadium last Sunday, but they came out with the most lopsided win in franchise history. Now the Panthers head into the bye week riding a wave of newfound confidence, lightly garnished with a sense of humility. The Panthers are eager to use their momentum to build upon their new success, but they must remember that it is early in the season, and a big win over a floundering New York Giants team does not mean a Super Bowl. The bye week is a great time to reflect and discover, and every Panther should take that opportunity.
Most teams prefer to have the bye week in the middle of the season to serve as break to heal and prepare for the home stretch towards the playoffs, but for the Panthers, the bye week can't come too soon. The Panthers' demolishing of the Giants was no fluke; there was a great deal of strategy at play, but there were pleasant surprises. Mike Shula and Ron Rivera changed their game plans last week, with Shula opening up his playbook in contrast to the conservative approach he took in the first two games, and Rivera finally putting some trust in his offense on fourth down.
The secondary also stepped up mightily, even in spite of missing three starters and starting two rookies. The secondary alone forced three turnovers, and even helped the defensive get a few sacks. The Panthers would surely like to get some of their starters back, even as well as the fill-ins played, even if only to add depth and provide a backstop for the eventual ineptitude of youth. The secondary would love to heal, but truly, who needs this precious bye week the most?
Rivera was firmly planted on the hot seat heading into Week 3, but now the fuss has cooled down in the wake of an epic victory. While River may not be able to quell the flames surrounding him further by winning again, he also can't make the criticism return with a subsequent loss. Rivera stays neutral this week, but at least the eyes of Panther nation aren't still glaring at him.
Jon Beason was once the class of NFC linebackers, but after two major injuries, he has lost his spot to former Giant Chase Blackburn. Beason is clearly still recovering, and a week off should give him ample time to work out the kinks in his legs and refresh his technique. Hopefully he can return to form soon, because him and Luke Kuechly together would be reminiscent of Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher.
The man starting opposite of Captain Munnerlynn was out last week with a concussion, one of many secondary players out for the game against the Giants. Melvin White played very well in his stead, but don't expect the rookie to continue starting. It's good that Thomas gets the extra time to heal, because concussions are never something to fool around with. Thomas may have been able to play this week, but it's great that he doesn't have to rush.
The Panthers' early season acquisition looked very solid in the Panthers' first game against the Seattle Seahawks, but he exited the Buffalo Bills game with an ankle injury and did not play in the Giants game. The Panthers will need Mikell back to help Robert Lester contain Larry Fitzgerald and the deep ball arm talent of Carson Palmer over the top, otherwise the Panthers' talented defensive line will count for nothing.
Mike Shula was a big reason that the Panthers surged offensively last Sunday, accumulating over 400 yards on offense. The main reason for this offensive turnaround was Shula increasing Cam Newton's option and designed run package, a strategy that burned the Giants and vaulted Carolina up to second in the league in rushing. Shula will try to continue to tweak the offense to more fully utilize Newton's talents, as a greater effort will be needed against the likes of Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell and Patrick Peterson.