4 keys to victory for the Panthers at Washington in Week 16

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Yetur Gross-Matos /

Creative blitz packages

The Carolina Panthers will probably be without the services of stud pass-rusher Brian Burns in Week 16. The defensive end went off with a knee problem after taking down Aaron Rodgers late in the game against the Packers and not having the 2019 first-round pick exploding off the edge is going to be a big loss in no uncertain terms.

Defensive coordinator Phil Snow must get creative in a bid to generate pressure in Burns’ absence. Washington is among the NFL’s worst teams for protecting their quarterback – giving up 3.1 sacks-per-game on average – so this is something the Panthers have to take advantage of if they want to secure victory.

Not having much in the way of pressure on their shoulders should allow Snow to become a little bolder in this area. This should include blitz packages as the coach looks to compensate for not having Burns wreaking havoc.

Expect to see a lot more of second-round pick Yetur Gross-Matos and Efe Obada attacking from the edge. But the onus will be on the likes of Jeremy Chinn, Shaq Thompson, Jermaine Carter, and Tre Boston to move up to the line of scrimmage and make things happen should the opportunity arise.

Washington has some questions surrounding the health of projected starter Alex Smith. So the more doubt Carolina can put into his mind, the better. If Dwayne Haskins is the player charged with leading their offense, then getting after him could lead to some substantial success.