We’re kicking off our season-long series of “Know Your Packers Enemy,” where every week I will talk with a blogger from the Packers’ opponent of that respective week. We’ll breakdown each game from the view of the opponent’s blogger, who should be able to give us some valuable insight on the team they cover. And while Week 1 would have naturally seemed like the right time to start this series, you wouldn’t believe how hard it was to find a Saints blogger. Nonetheless, the Panthers in Week 2 will be our jumping off point. In our first edition, I talked with James Dator from Cat Scratch Reader, the Panthers blog on SB Nation.
Here is the exchange:
1. Zach’s Question: Cam Newton was going to be a talking point in this game even before his record-setting debut, but tell me a little bit about the excitement surrounding that performance in the Panthers fan base. I, for one, was completely blown away by some of the things he did against Arizona. How are fans reacting to Newton in Week 1 and leading into the Packers game?
A: What impressed me the most wasn’t the 422 yards, or the three total TDs he scored, but rather when they cut to him after the game his head was hanging low, a towel over it and he was upset at the loss. That alone told me more about Cam Newton than the gaudy stats. What we’ve seen is a misunderstood player; sure he wants to be an ‘icon’, but he also wants to win, and is as competitive as anyone on our football team. Seeing him unsatisfied showed that he puts team success over personal glory, and that’s great to see.
3. Q: Let’s talk Jon Beason. His loss is obviously a big one. I equate it to the Packers losing a guy like Charles Woodson or Clay Matthews on their defense. Is there any way the Panthers can replace him? And could you tell me a little bit about his backup, Dan Conner? What should we expect from him?
A: In terms of having to rely on a backup MLB I would take Dan Connor over any of the other 31 backups in the NFL. I truly believe he’s an NFL starter, and would be starting if not for being behind Jon Beason. In terms of performance on the field there’s not a lot of a drop off, but where Connor lacks is the leadership and ‘field general’ qualities Jon Beason brings to the table. It’s the understanding and organization that makes Beason great. In terms of what to expect: Connor will be solid, he plays smart football and is one of the better tacklers on our roster.
4. Q: While Packers QB Aaron Rodgers didn’t match Newton’s 422 yards, he also had himself a nice season opener. How are the Panthers going to go about attempting to slow him down? Does Carolina have the personnel in the secondary to hang with the Packers weapons on offense?
A: The Panthers can’t stop the Packers, but they can do their best to contain them. Last week Carolina did a good job containing Larry Fitzgerald with CB Chris Gamble, so I’m not too worried there, but across the board Green Bay are far more dangerous. If Carolina can get their pass rush going with Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, it will take a lot of the pressure of the secondary, but ultimately Carolina are outmatched completely.
5. Q: Let’s hear a prediction for Sunday’s game. Is there a best and worst case scenario for Carolina?
A: My prediction will be Packers 35, Panthers 21. As far as a best case/worst case situation goes, I’d say the best case is that the Panthers can contain the Packers and tighten up in the redzone turning a lot of drives into field goals; From there Cam Newton can be an X-factor and keep Green Bay off balance. As for worst case, it would be an injury or complete meltdown of Cam Newton that will hurt the fanbase’s confidence.