Sep 8, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (99) during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Patriots beat the Bills 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Q&A with CatCrave

This week we will see the Bills and Panthers square off.  Over the past week, the Editor for CatCrave, which is the Carolina Panthers fansided blog site, and I have exchanged a couple of questions before the game tomorrow afternoon.  Brandon Becker, editor of CatCrave, gave his insight on a couple of questions about the Panthers and what we might look to see out of them this week.

1. With the Panthers coming off a close and heartbreaking loss to the Seahawks this past weekend, what can the Buffalo Bills expect to see Newton and Williams do to make sure that they come away with a win?

The biggest change you are going to see when these two teams square off on Sunday is a more aggressive approach from the Panthers. All week long the talk has been how Ron Rivera said the offense was too conservative against Seattle. First year offensive coordinator Mike Schula has taken the majority of the heat from fans, but I was quite content with the game he called. It definitely was a more conservative approach, but the Panthers’ offensive line was a sieve during the preseason and going against the Seahawks’ defense it made sense that they played things on the safe side.

So what do Cam and crew have to do to get a W? It starts with establishing the running game with Williams, but the bigger factor will be getting the wide receivers involved. Only two Panthers receivers (Steve Smith and Tedd Ginn Jr.) caught passes against Seattle and that is troubling, although in large part this can be chalked up to Carolina running only 50 plays total on offense.
2. Mario Williams is coming off a somewhat ok first season with the Bills with 10.5 sacks and having a wrist injury that kept him out for a couple of games as well.  With the Panthers Offensive line their weak point and arguably the Bills defensive line their best asset on the defensive side, what are the Panthers looking to do to contain Super Mario and crew from getting at Cam?
When it comes to protecting Cam I think the Panthers are going to cross their fingers and hope the offensive line holds up. It played pretty well against Seattle but they were without two of their top pass rushers. Establishing the running game is one way to keep the pressure off of Newton, but other than that if the Panthers really do open up the playbook and are more aggressive they are going to need the line to hold. Either that or it will be on Cam to scramble to buy extra time. I would like to see the team get him on the move more often on bootlegs, but it really hasn’t been a staple of the offense since he’s been with the team.
3. Ron Rivera has brought the Panthers from a 2-14 season in 2011 to a 7-9 season last year.  Does Rivera’s work ethic and coaching style look to have the Panthers improve again this year and make the playoffs?
It’s hard to find a Panthers fan who is a Ron Rivera fan, but I am one. I don’t feel he’s been given a roster that best suits his coaching style until this year, but it might be too late. One area of weakness for Rivera seems to be this perplexity he has with his offensive coordinator. It wasn’t until late in the season when the Panthers were out of it when he scaled back Rob Chudzinski’s elaborate playbook and required a more traditional offense. Then this past Monday he claimed the offense was too conservative, which falls on new offensive coordinator Mike Schula. My question is why isn’t Rivera taking more of a hands-on approach when it comes to the offensive adjustments throughout the game. If I was a betting man I would say he does get the Panthers to improve again, but I don’t think an 8-8 or 9-7 record will be enough unless it means a playoff berth.
Head on over the the CatCrave and check out the questions that Brandon asked me.
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