With word that Christian McCaffrey will not be able to suit up for the game, it’s looking like the Broncos are catching the Carolina Panthers at the perfect time to get off schneid. After picking Billy Marshall’s brain yesterday, I spoke with Cat Scratch Reader’s Walker Clement to get more insight into the upcoming matchup.
1st and 10
I know it’s a really fluid situation, but can you try and get me up to speed on the Panthers’ Covid situation?
Clement: The Panthers current reserve/COVID-19 list consists of starting wide receivers DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel, starting linebacker Shaq Thompson, starting defensive tackles Derrick Brown and Zach Kerr, starting defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, practice squad defensive tackle Bruce Hector, and practice squad wide receiver Ishmael Hyman. It’s, uh. . . not good.
The loss of defensive tackles Brown and Kerr is going to hurt the most. The Panthers are keeping their fingers crossed (if those guys are close contacts and not positives) that they can be cleared in time for Sunday. The only defensive tackle on the roster is rookie, sixth round pick Brayvion Roy. Defensive end Efe Obada often slides inside in certain looks, but isn’t an ideal option to hold the middle for a full game. They also have Woodrow Hamilton and Mike Panasiuk on the practice squad.
Even if Brown or Kerr are cleared for the game, they’ll be expected to start without practicing this week. Y’all honestly picked the wrong week to not have a starting quarterback. This week would have been ideal, because the Broncos will be able to run all day without sniffing a third down.
2nd and 8
What are your thoughts on Teddy Bridgewater so far?
Clement: Bridgewater is a fantastic teammate and an aggressively serviceable quarterback. He is capable of game changing plays, but they are far from his bread and butter. Fortunately, his bread and butter is being a careful and efficient game manager. I don’t think he’s “the guy,” but I won’t complain if he keeps games entertaining until the Panthers find that guy.
How Bridgewater fares against the Broncos is anybody’s guess now that he is without his top two wide receivers, but expect a lot of short throws to running back Mike Davis and some guy named Brandon Zylstra while your corners are (rightfully) focused on Robby Anderson.
3rd and 6
Joe Brady is getting a ton of head coaching buzz. What should Broncos’ Country expect from this Panthers offense?
Clement: Again, the top receivers are out, Christian McCaffrey was supposed to return until he injured his quad, and Teddy Bridgewater is coming off one of his weirdest weeks yet against the Vikings (and I guess a bye week, but we lost that so, moving on). Brady likes to involve a lot of different guys and keeps the ball moving largely through the air. When he runs, it’s not often telegraphed out of power formations. What’s he going to do when he doesn’t have a lot of guys to spread the ball around to? I don’t know, but hopefully it will look terrible and other teams will lose interest. I’m honestly starting to wonder if Samuel and Moore tried to get on the COVID list to sabotage Brady’s buzz for at least one more year. Brady has brought the game of chess to a franchise that is used to playing something less complicated than checkers. Maybe it rubbed off on two of his top stars.
Panthers coach Matt Rhule said at this time he does not expect Christian McCaffrey to play vs. the Broncos.— Joe Person (@josephperson) December 10, 2020
4th and inches
I lost sleep over Jeremy Chinn last year and he looks like he’s headed for superstardom. Who else stands out on the Carolina defense as players to be on the lookout for?
What’s your prediction for the game?
Clement: If the Panthers get their defense back off the COVID list then it might be competitive. If not then it is going to be nothing short of silly. As someone who is a bigger fan of silliness than the Carolina Panthers, I’m personally rooting for a tie. As for what will happen: flip a coin and then go the other way.
Who ya got?
This poll is closed
Broncos by a ton.
Broncos by a little.
Panthers by a ton.
Panthers by a little.