The Week 3 matchup between the Panthers and Jaguars is an intriguing one when you consider that the game will exhibit two quarterbacks who were drafted in the top ten selections of the 2011 NFL Draft. Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton will look to continue his impressive start as the number one overall pick will be making his third NFL regular season start. On the other hand, Jaguars quarterback, Blaine Gabbert will be getting his very first NFL start. The Jaguars traded the #16 and #49 picks to the Redskins to jump up to the #10 spot so they could select Gabbert. Let’s dive into the offensive and defensive gameplans of each team.
Jaguars Offensive Gameplan:
The Jaguars come into Week 3 with the number 28 overall offense. They rank 6th in rushing, 30th in passing, and 30th in scoring. The Jaguar offense was anemic in Week 2 as they were thumped 32-3 by the New York Jets. The Jaguars will use their workhorse, Maurice Jones-Drew early and often. Jones-Drew vs the Panthers run defense which has been hampered by injuries to Jon Beason and Thomas Davis could represent the biggest mismatch of the game. I would expect the Jaguars to give Gabbert short passes to start off the game to get him comfortable and then use the play action pass later in the game to help open up big play possibilities.
Jaguars Defensive Gameplan:
The Jaguars come into Week 3 with the number 5 overall defense. They rank 5th against the run, 14th against the pass, and 16th in scoring. The Panthers run game has been less than spectacular to say the least. The Jaguars should plan on stuffing the run while playing zone on passing situations. The Jaguars would also be wise to double cover Panther receiver, Steve Smith for most of the game to help cut down on long pass plays that Carolina could convert.
Jaguars Player to Watch: Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew could easily rush for over 100 yards against a young and inexperienced Carolina defensive line.
Panthers Offensive Gameplan:
The Panthers come into Week 3 with the #2 offense overall. They rank 29th in rushing, 2nd in passing, and 18th in scoring. The Panthers should at least try to establish the run early in the game to see if they can have anymore success in Week 3 than they did in the first two games. If the run game continues to struggle, the offensive firepower will fall squarely on Cam Newton’s right shoulder. Newton comes in to the Week 3 matchup with a completion percentage of 62.7% and has thrown for a total of 854 yards. For the Panthers to win this game, they must take advantage of red-zone opportunities. So far this season, the Panthers have only converted 3 of 8 red-zone trips into touchdowns. That stat is one the Panthers must increase and the establishment of the running game and targeting Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen could help that stat rise.
Panthers Defensive Gameplan:
The Panthers must load the box to contain Maurice Jones-Drew. They cannot allow Jones-Drew to be the player who beats them. Instead they must try to contain him and put the pressure on Blaine Gabbert by frequently blitzing the young signal caller. If the can successfully blitz Gabbert and force him to make a quick decision, the Panthers could come away with multiple turnovers. One thing the Panthers absolutely cannot do is give up big plays to the Jaguars. The Panthers have already allowed four touchdowns for 49 yards or longer this season. The Panthers must remain focused on their job and try not to over-react to the Jaguars play-action pass plays.
Panther Player to Watch: Greg Olsen. With Smith being double covered for most of the game, Greg Olsen could have a big game in routes down the middle of the field and in the red-zone. I would expect Olsen to have at least one touchdown tomorrow.
Game Prediction: Panthers 31, Jaguars 20