The Panthers head into their Week 2 matchup against the Giants coming off a last-second defeat to the Cleveland Browns. Rookie kicker Cade York connected on a 58-yard field goal to put the Browns ahead for good with eight seconds to play.
When the Panthers have the ball…
1. The Pantherwiths' offense gained only 261 yards against the Browns and 125 came on two plays blown coverages against Ian Thomas (50 yards) and Robbie Anderson (75 yards). The Panthers had only one drive last longer than seven plays, an 11-play, 75-yard drive helped by a Christian McCaffrey 32-yard run after scooping up a fumble.
Baker Mayfield finished the game completing 16 of 27 passes for 235 yards with one touchdown and an interception. After a first half where he looked out of sync with his receivers, Mayfield was 6-of-8 for 134 yards and a touchdown in the second half, bringing the Panthers back from a 20-7 fourth-quarter deficit. Mayfield led Carolina on a seven-play, 64-yard drive to set up the go-ahead field goal with 1:17 to play.
Robbie Anderson is the team's deep threat and led the team in receiving yards in Week 1, but DJ Moore is their most accomplished wide receiver. He has three straight seasons of at least 1,150 receiving yards. He spent all but eight of his 53 snaps as an outside receiver, with the remainder coming in the slot. The Panthers used 11 (1 RB, 1 TE) personnel on 41 of their 53 snaps, with 12 snaps using 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE).
2. Christian McCaffrey is the Panthers' primary offensive weapon. He has played only 10 games over the past two seasons due to injury. McCaffrey is healthy and played 43 of the team's 53 offensive snaps against Cleveland. He rushed the ball 10 times for 33 yards with no runs for more than nine yards, and caught four passes near the line of scrimmage for 24 yards.
The Panthers only ran the ball 36% of the time in 1st-and-10 situations in Week 1, the sixth-lowest rate in the NFL. They favored a quick passing game on early downs that looks similar to a spread college offense. Dont'a Foreman is the power back that they will use as a downhill runner from under center. They converted every third down of six or fewer yards, but only on 12.5% of third-and-longer.
3. They ran 14 RPO's, which was 26% of their snaps in Week 1, second only to the Eagles (and just ahead of the Giants at 26%). They also had the 13th-highest play-action rate in the NFL in Week 1 (28.6%). According to Pro Football Focus, Baker Mayfield had the seventh-fastest average time to throw at 2.52 seconds.
The Panthers have a revamped offensive line. Taylor Moton returns as the starting right tackle with Pat Elflein back at center. Austin Corbett was brought in from the Rams to take over at right guard. Last year's starting, left tackle Brady Christensen, has been bumped to left guard with 2022 sixth-overall pick Ickey Ekwonu starting at left tackle.
Ekwonu had a "welcome to the NFL game" against elite pass rusher Myles Garrett on in Week1, allowing two sacks and two quarterback hurries on a 91.4 pass block efficiency rate, according to PFF. Despite Mayfield getting rid of the ball quickly, the Panthers allowed pressure on 43% of their dropbacks, which was eight-worst in the league. There were some unblocked pressures that seemed to stem from communication issues in correctly setting the protection pre-snap.
In Mayfield's four seasons with the Browns, he never had a quarterback rating over 74 when facing pressure, according to Pro Football Focus.
Keys for the Giants' defense:
* Don't let Christian McCaffrey get 1-on-1 in space as a receiver against linebackers
* Make Baker Mayfield uncomfortable in the pocket
* Prevent quick easy passes on early downs
When the Giants have the ball...
4. The Panthers struggled to stop the run against the Browns in their Week 1 matchup, allowing 217 yards rushing. Carolina allowed three runs of 20+ yards, which was the most in the league in Week 1. They also allowed six runs of 10+ yards. The Browns did most of their damage attacking the edges of the Carolina defense with wide zone and toss plays. The Panthers have good defensive tackles in Derrick Brown and Matt Ioannidis, but the Browns were consistently able to get their offensive linemen to the second-level to block linebackers Shaq Thompson, Frankie Luvu, and Cory Littleton.
5. The Panthers' pass defense held quarterback Jacoby Brissett to only 147 passing yards on 18 of 34 passing with one touchdown. The Browns did not complete a pass that traveled more than 20 yards in the air the entire game. The Panthers play mostly single-high defense, with 36% of their snaps against Cleveland featuring Cover-1 (man-to-man with a single-high safety) and 27.5 % featured Cover-3 (zone with a single-high safety). They mixed in quarters coverage (4 deep zone) on just under 20% of their snaps against the pass.
Donte Jackson and Jaycee Horn start at cornerback with CJ Henderson playing as the third cornerback. Jeremy Chinn and Xavier Woods split the safety duties, with Chinn usually playing closer to the line of scrimmage. Defensive back Myles Hartfield will see time as the nickel defender in the slot.
Brian Burns is the Panthers' best pass rusher. In Week 1, he didn't have a sack but managed six pressures including two quarterback hits, according to PFF's tracking tracking. He is long and athletic. The Panthers will line him up on both ends of the line of scrimmage. The seventh-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, defensive tackle Derrick Brown, was second on the team in Week 1 with three pressures. The Panthers had a 32.6% pressure rate in Week 1 according to PFF, which was the 13th-best in the NFL.
The Panthers will send extra players to get pressure on the quarterback. Their 46.5% blitz rate in Week 1 was the seventh highest in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Keys for the Giants' offense…
* Don't let Brian Burns wreck the game
* Run the ball consistently
* Attack single-high coverages with downfield concepts
View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers.