Happy Football Friday, Panthers fans! This is our first installment of “Through the Enemy’s Eyes” game preview, of the regular season. We did a trial run of it last week, leading up to the game at the Pittsburgh Steelers, and found that it worked out pretty well. Basically what happens is a blogger from the team the Panthers are going to play emails me five Panthers-related questions to post on their site, and in return, answers five questions relating to their team which I post here.
At Cat Crave, we have some brilliant fans who get bored easily by our expert analysis (we try to remain humble, but some still have to point it out publicly — see comment section). Keeping you in mind, we want you to receive superior insight on the opposing team and perhaps learn something you didn’t know already!
This week we visit Tommy Barnett of All Giants.com.
Let’s take a look at how the New York Giants are preparing for Carolina…through the enemy’s eyes.
Cat Crave: What must the Giants defense do to limit the effectiveness of Carolina running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart? Will they be able to eliminate Carolina’s ground game?
TB: The Giants defensive line needs to get a good push. It’s as easy as that. The Giants allowed 98 yards per game on the ground during the preseason, but just 3.3 yards per carry. Overall, I think this is going to be a team that shuts down the run game for most of the season. Teams are going to beat the Giants in the passing game, though.
While Williams and Stewart both had good games against the Giants last season, I don’t think they’ll be as dominate this season. Perry Fewell is great at stopping the run, as shown when he was in Buffalo. Williams and Stewart both got off to cold starts at the beginning of last season, too, and I suspect it could possibly happen again. Both really seem like second half players to me.
However, in the end, I don’t think the Giants will be able to completely eliminate the Panthers run game. I don’t think Williams and Stewart will run wild on the Giants, though.
Cat Crave:How confident are you in newly-appointed defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s ability to have New York’s defense primed for Carolina’s offense?
TB: I’m confident in his ability to handle Carolina’s offense. Fewell’s defense is more of a read and react defense. I can see the Giants defense creating turnovers, especially with Matt Moore.
As I said earlier, Fewell’s schemes work well against the run and could help slow down Carolina’s strong running game.
Cat Crave: What can the Panthers’ defense expect from the Giants on offense?
TB: This is a tough one. For the longest time, the Giants have always been a run first team. Last season, they began to pass the ball a bit more, as Eli Manning went over 4,000 yards for the first time in his career.
There’s been a close watch on Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs this preseason as people talk about who the starter will be. I really think the Giants are going to start this game off by making an impact in the passing game, though. I think the Giants are going to want to come out and make a statement after Carolina embarrassed them in their final home game last season. Manning has plenty of targets and with Bradshaw starting, the Giants will have a dynamic receiving option out of the backfield. That’s something the Giants haven’t had in a starter since Tiki Barber.
Cat Crave: Who’s the Giants’ top receiver on any given Sunday?
TB: Right now, it’s Steve Smith. He’s been a very reliable target for Manning. Last season, Smith had the most receptions in a single season ever for the New York Giants with 107 catches. He also became the first Giants receiver in history to record 90 catches in one season. Smith also led the league in third down receptions with 38.
While Smith may be more reliable, Hakeem Nicks is the Giants big play threat. Nicks averaged 16.8 yards per reception last season.
Cat Crave: Finish the sentence…The Giants will win if –
TB: The Giants will win if they can keep DeAngelo Willams and Jonathan Stewart in check and establish a rhythm on offense early on.
Thanks to Tommy Barnett of AllGiants.com; you can check out his website there as well. Again, in case you missed it earlier in the piece, you can click here to view the questions Tommy asked us at Cat Crave.
Follow Cat Crave on Twitter @THECatCrave.