Packers XLV

Cam Do? Cam Won't. Reality Check In Store For Newton, Panthers.

Posted September 16th, 2011 @ 04:09pm

You could argue that the best thing that happened to the Packers last Sunday was Cam Newton'e eye-opening, jaw-dropping 422 yard performance at Arizona. It was a historic debut and erased any possibility that the Pack might look past the Panthers and ahead to their date with the Bears at Soldier Field next Sunday.

You can bet it got Dom Capers' attention too. He's had ten days to prepare for this one, and seven after watching tape of Newton's first game. Let's look at the big picture: Cam is going to be a star in this league. He has it all and excels in big moments. He hadn't lost a game in nearly two years before Sunday. He'll lose a lot more this season, but this is a team that will see double-digit wins within a couple of years.

The Panthers game plan will be simple. Make good use of one of the league's best four-legged rushing attacks and feed DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart early and often. The problem is, if the Packers get ahead (and they have a huge edge against Carolina's defense), then they have to rely on Newton's arm and legs. What he will see across the line on Sunday will look a lot different from one Arizona presented. Capers will start out in his conventional 3-4 defense, with Howard Green joining Raji and Pickett up front. In the opener, the Pack went with two down linemen often, because Brees and the Saints were airing it out.

Look for Carolina to be forced to work the left side offensively; they're without solid right tackle Jeff Otah (concussion) and will line up undrafted rookie Byron Bell to replacehim. Byron, meet Clay. Clay-Byron. Enough said. Steve Smith showed last week that he is one of the most talented wide receivers in the league when he has a capable QB. There is no one opposite him, though, so defenses can try to take him out and make Newton find his tight ends.

Greg Olson came over via trade to play the role of Antonio Gates in the San Diego-style offense the Panthers are using. We've seen his ability for years and he has to be thrilled to be out of the clutches of Mike Martz. Along with veteran Jeremy Shockey, Newton has a couple of capable security blankets in the middle of the field. The Packers will make sure those guys are covered.

Capers will throw different looks at Newton on every play. He'll disguise coverages and move guys around to confuse the rookie and force him into mistakes. I have the over under on interceptions at 2 1/2 and I'm taking the over. A defensive touchdown may be in the cards this week--for some reason, it feels like Morgan Burnett to me.

Offensively, the Pack should have its way. Ron Rivera was brought in to make over the Panthers defense, but there's a reason the team he inherited only won two games last season. Since letting Julius Peppers last year, their pass rush is marginal and they rely on rookies at both defensive tackle spots. To top it off, they lost their leader and best defensive player for the season last weekend. Middle linebacker Jon Beason blew out his achilles. Corner Chris Gamble should be entering his ninth season as a Packer corner (remember, we took Ahmad Carroll instead. I was screaming at the TV to take Gamble that draft day). He's still solid, but the rest of the secondary screams mediocre.

Expect the Pack to attack through the air and to carve up yardage on the ground. I have a feeling Finley and Starks are two most productive players this week. If I were McCarthy, I'd keep James Jones on the sidelines for much of this one as penance for whining about his playing time to a Milwaukee radio station. Whine to the coaches, your teammates---not to the media after one game.

McCarthy is 5-0 in road openers and nothing should change after Sunday. It feels like Pack 34 Carolina 14.

For much more on this game, tune in to "Packer Preview" this Sunday at 8am on KFAN 100.3 FM in the Twin Cities and at kfan.com.

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Comments (10):

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on April 30th, 2012 at 05:30am

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on April 30th, 2012 at 11:38am

Dalton or Green is an extremely tough qsiuteon to answer, and I won't attempt to answer it. However (going slightly off topic), the thing I think is interesting when considering the future is that it's way easier to guage a WR's talent as a rookie than it is a QB's. Is there any doubt that Green will always be an impact player? Dalton, on the other hand, stands to benefit much more from having a good team around him, so I think, reasonably, the jury has to stay out on him for another season. Don't get me wrong the kid has certainly impressed me, and I truly hope he continues to improve. But Mark Sanchez was thought of pretty highly during his rookie season, and listen to what people are saying about him now. Football is a team game; the players depend on each other, and that makes individual recognition an argumentative subject.

on August 1st, 2012 at 03:18pm

Dalton is putting up rare roioke QB numbers in wins and touchdown passes similar to Marino and a few others as mentioned above. He's a leader out there on the field and shows a drive for winning like other Top QBs. Green is the big number one receiver the bengals haven't had for a while and is on pace for well over 1000 yards and 10 TDs (also rare for WR roiokes). Dalton and Green have a great chemistry already so either one of them is deserving for award. Gresham can be just as big a weapon and mismatch if they get the ball down field to him more like they have lately. I'm giving the edge to Dalton who I believe was the 6th QB taken overall in the draft.

on August 3rd, 2012 at 08:05am

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on June 25th, 2012 at 07:25pm

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on May 10th, 2012 at 05:32am

If only they could split the NFL/AFC awards You've meoinnted several times that AJ's athleticism has bailed out an errant throw or 5 from Dalton, and I remember being stunned at one interception that was thrown to him the result of him getting not one hand on the ball and not just a second bite at the apple, but a third shot at making the catch and falling short, the last tip going into the arms of a player on the opposing defense. My jaw was agape. Few players have the agility and object-tracking capacity to get a second go at a ball, so a third (each occurring almost 4-5 feet from the previous touch) go at it was, to me, demonstrative of the ability which has set Marvin giddy.But Dalton has started every game so far this season. He's led comeback drives (usually starring #18) for wins or what would have been at least a tie but for referee interference or, less frequently, a loss. Few in Cincinnati would have bet to see a redhead on the sidelines this year who, instead of sitting down glumly while the defense was on the field, worked the sideline clapping and shouting like a cheerleader (a Ben-guy?), whose confidence has not only affected the play of others but to the extent that their awe of his demeanor can be read on their faces during interviews.The Ravens and Steelers both have been taken aback at his level of play at this stage in his career. Unlike A.J., they can't bring safety help over to double cover him (or triple, as the need might require). Unlike Cam Newton, there's no QB spy watching for the run, effectively adding a guy in coverage. But only one of these teams was talked about as going 0-16 (by a former Bengal QB no less). AJ should definitely be in the discussion, and the volume will probably depend how his last games go. But he's exactly as advertised. In the NFL.com re-draft, Dalton went #2 overall. Not exactly like finding a Picasso at a garage sale, but much closer to it than buying a van Gogh and it turning out to be the last he ever painted.

on May 18th, 2012 at 04:40pm

A couple thgtohus:- In terms of draft value, Andy's value as a 2nd rounder is amazing. He has all the intangibles, and there is nothing but optimism for his future. His leadership and poise beyond his years has taken over this team.- AJ Green is already a transcendent talent. He makes the entire offense better, and makes Dalton look like a superstar. Let's look at Dalton's games without AJ in the lineup. Granted, it's a small sample size, against the Ravens and Steelers. Dalton still had the moxie, the clutchness. And he still looked like he's got the makings of a future star. But without AJ in there, they just couldn't get the job done.- In the end, I think it's hard to separate one from the other. But the final tip goes to AJ. He's on pace to have a rookie season second only to Randy Moss. While Dalton's production, and command of the offense is impressive, AJ's season is off-the-charts.

on May 20th, 2012 at 02:44am

I'd going to go with 24 to 13 Packers. McCarthy is likely to get conservative. The only was the Packers score 34 is with big broken play, like you said defensive, special teams or big runs. I bet you'll see a little more James Jones. It doesn't feel like McCarthy's style to deal out penance publicly. I keep writing, though I'm often wrong.

on September 16th, 2011 at 07:38pm

davey, u are sounding like the fantasy guys now. they said sit all panthers against capers and the pack. i'm the biggest packer fan there is, but, no so fast my friends. this is no fluke. they have talent and we did not get much pressure on brees. will miss jenkins alot and now neal is out for 2 months. cam is better then everyone thinks, we will win but we need to be careful. 35-24. but they will score. go world champs

on September 17th, 2011 at 11:57am

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