The Carolina Panthers are up this week for the New York Giants. To find out a little more about the Panthers, we turned to James Dator, editor of SB Nation's 'Cat Scratch Reader,' for this week's 'Five Questions' segment. His answers to my questions are below.
Ed: Your GM, Dave Gettleman, was a long-time pro personnel guy for the Giants. What do you think of the job Gettleman has done thus far?
James: It's been a mixed bag really. I'll acknowledge he walked into a very difficult cap situation, but the small resources he did have were (mostly) misallocated in free agency. He over-estimated the talent on the offensive line, while under-estimating the defensive backs -- while there's not much talent at either positon, it resulted in a spate of DB signings without getting any help for Cam Newton.
At this point most of us acknowledge that this is a transition year to get past Ron Rivera, but the hope is that Newton wont get killed in the process.
Ed: Chase Blackburn and Domenik Hixon were popular Giants. Can you give us update on what their roles are and how they are doing?
James: Fairly similar to their late-career roles in New York, which is to say they're warming benches while recovering from injuries. It looked for a long time like Hixon wouldn't make it though training camp until he played well in the final preseason game, while Blackburn has been entirely relegated to special teams so far.
Ed: If you were creating the game plan for the Giants, how would you attack the Panthers?
James: Lean on aggression. If New York's defensive backs can play physically at the line of scrimmage as disrupt routes it's all over. It's clear Cam Newton has no faith in his offensive line (and he shouldn't) which is having a domino effect through the overly-conservative offense. Attack right tackle Byron Bell as much as possible, because he can't pass block -- and Mike Shula (offensive coordinator) seems disinterested in giving his ailing tackle any help.
Ed: What one player on the Giants would you like to plug into Carolina's lineup?
James: Victor Cruz, without a doubt. Having his deep-threat ability would allow the Panthers to transition Steve Smith into the slot where he's wanted to be for a while now. One more good receiver for Newton would change the entire face of this offense.
Ed: Tell us about a couple of players we might not know much about but who we should look for on Sunday?
James: This is a difficult one because I feel that the few weapons the Panthers have are all known quantities. Everyone knows about Star Lotulelei, especially pre-draft -- but I'm not sure people have a good grip on how well he's playing as a rookie. It normally takes rookie defensive tackles a little while to develop, but he's already grading out as one of the league's top nose tackles and run stoppers.
I suppose that's a bit of a cop out, but there isn't much mystery to this team. There are some standout players and a lot of mediocrity.
Thanks to James for dropping some knowledge about the Panthers on us. Stop by Cat Scratch Reader for my answers to his questions, and to learn more about the Panthers.
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