Carolina Panthers: 5 matchups to watch vs. the Jets in Week 1

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Matt Paradis /

Carolina Panthers interior O-line vs. NY Jets interior D-line

Much has been said about the Panther’s offensive line this offseason and for good reason. After ranking 18th in passing and 21st in the run as a team in 2020, there was little done in the way of improvement around star right tackle Taylor Moton.

Matt Paradis is coming off a down year and free-agent signing Pat Elflein was cut by both the Minnesota Vikings and the Jets. The only other notable signings being journeyman Cam Erving and bringing back John Miller. The preseason showed just how interesting this combination will be.

While Darnold performed rather well in the final contest, his protection was less impressive. On many occasions, he was seen running around a muddy pocket or just seeming uncomfortable in general and I can’t blame him.

The run game didn’t fare any better with Chuba Hubbard rarely finding open spaces with the exception of a couple of long runs and the team regularly struggled in short-yardage. A distinct lack of confidence in the ability to gain those short yards is shown in the fact that the team elected to throw on multiple 4th&1 plays.

This is especially worrying when you consider this was against the Pittsburg Steelers backups.

On the other side of the ball, the Jets retooled nearly their entire roster with a rather notable exception.

With all of the struggles the Jets endured during the 2020 season, there was one place of pride, run defense. A performance that brought a 12th place ranking and that position shouldn’t change much in 2021 after the team retained both starting defensive tackles in Folorunso Fatukasi and Quinnen Williams. The team is also getting back COVID opt-out C.J. Mosley which would also be a boon in that area.

So with a struggling interior line in the run game and the one strong point of the opposition being its run defense, it could end up being a very long day for McCaffrey and Hubbard. On top of this already being a place of concern, Miller was placed on the Covid-19 list and will be unavailable. Replaced by the somewhat disappointing Dennis Daley instead of a player on the rise like Brady Christensen or the mountain of a man that is Deonte Brown.

In football, you always want to put strength against weakness and that is exactly what the Jets will have along the interior in week one. If the Panthers cant somehow get things together a surprising loss will be in store as they become one-dimensional and place too much on the shoulders of Darnold.