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 Naomi Baker/Getty Images) Jermaine Carter /

Carolina Panthers Jermaine Carter Vs. NY Jets Zach Wilson

Sunday’s game will be a matchup of young quarterbacks, just not in the way most people think.

Middle linebacker is often referred to as the quarterback of the defense and that was never more true than during Luke Keuchly’s tenure. But with him now retired the Panthers have been desperately searching for a way to fill that void. That responsibility now falls onto fourth-year player Jermaine Carter.

After free agency, most people including me assumed that Denzel Perryman had been brought in as the heir apparent, but with his injury history and that bug seeming to bite him again this offseason the former Los Angeles Charger was shipped off to the Las Vegas Raiders.

Another large reason for that being the emergence of Carter.

No one really expected Carter to fill any void when he was taken in the 5th round of the 2018 draft, at that point there was no void for him to fill. Even after Keuchley’s retirement the team looked elsewhere for a replacement and did so again this year. Neither of those experiments aging particularly well.

However, Carter has stuck around and quietly worked on his game while he waited for a chance to put that work on display. That chance finally came late last season and he hasn’t looked back since.

The thing missing most last season was the way Kuechley could diagnose an offense before the snap and adjust on the fly, bringing the rest of the defense with him. That is something that Carter has shown flashes of during the offseason and something that the team desperately needs to have again with how audible happy offenses have become.

His opposition on Sunday is the No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson.

Wilson lit it up against inferior competition last season for BYU and took the pre-draft process by storm. There were some questions about just how good he was, but those have been largely silenced in the pre-season. But he is still a rookie and shows that with untimely mistakes.

This game will be a good starting point for Carter, and this is no particular knock on Wilson but he is no Peyton Manning, as there shouldn’t be as much pre-snap maneuvering or trick plays on the Jets side of things.

Football, after all, is a game of adjustments and that will be heavily scrutinized by both sides. Quarterbacks recognizing blitzes and coverages and shifting protection to counter and the linebacker looking for weak points and sniffing out trick plays. Each team will be taking a close look at whether or not their respective quarterback can put their team in the best place to succeed.

Communication is key for both of these first-time starters and we won’t know just how prepared they are until the coin gets flipped on a new season. So keep an eye out for just how much chatter is coming from the middle of the defense.

Next. 5 Sneaky Threats to Worry About vs Jets. dark