Hey, look! It's a 'Five Questions' segment with Jaxon from SB Nation's Carolina Panthers website, 'Cat Scratch Reader.' The regular season must be here, and of course Carolina is Sunday's opponent for our New York Giants.
With that in mind, Jaxon and I swapped some questions. Be sure to check out my answers over at CSR. By the way, Jaxon also stopped by 'New York Giants Talk' for a few minutes Thursday night. If you did not listen in (shame on you!), please download the podcast.
Anyway, on with Jaxon's answers to my probing questions about the Panthers.
BBV: What is up with the Panther offense? Only 8 points per game? Why so poor in the preseason?
Jaxon: My Homer answer is that our focus this preseason was disproportionately on improving the passing game without our best receiver and a cadre of young receivers still getting their feet wet. Once the real action starts we will revert back to our run-first philosophy and have our missing pieces back, mainly Steve Smith. My Hater answer is that Matt Moore has struggled to run the offense, the offensive line has taken a step back and we still don't have a viable threat opposite Smith. I imagine the reality is somewhere in the middle but until proven otherwise I choose to think the preseason performance of the offense is not representative of what we will see on Sunday (but it is very representative of what we expect from the defense!)
BBV: What is the likely future for John Fox? Is he out of a job after this season, or does much depend on how the season goes?
Jaxon: We are simply guessing at this point as even the beat writers are clueless. Given Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is a very smart businessman and former player I can't imagine he would let Fox walk given his success and the respect he has around the league. Me personally (and many disagree), I don't think JR is the tight wad many are making him out to be. He has opened the wallet to keep key personnel in the past. I think JR will re-sign Fox once the new CBA is fleshed out further regardless of how this season goes. I have to admit though if the season tanks he could be in trouble; but again I still think and hope he stays.
BBV: Do you miss Julius Peppers, or are you glad he's gone? More importantly, does his loss hurt the Carolina defense?
Jaxon: I haven't missed him yet and based on the preseason performance of the defense (18 sacks in 4 games) it doesn't appear they have either. I think the real silver lining of his departure is it solidifies LB Jon Beason as the acknowledged leader of the defense, a role he not only excels at but accepts (that's a swipe at Peppers, btw). The added cap space should come in handy too once a CBA is in place.
BBV: Any players Giants fans should watch for who might not be familiar names at this point?
Jaxon: On offense, probably not. You should see more of Dwayne Jarrett and rookie Brandon LaFell at WR but I suspect they will have limited impact this early in the season. We have also been working in RB Mike Goodson on 3rd down but I have no idea if he will actually see the field come Sunday.
On defense keep an eye on DE's/3rd down pass rush specialist's Everette Brown (2nd year) and Greg hardy (R). They have both looked strong and fast in the preseason. We also have new starters at MLB in Dan Conner and SLB James Anderson plus 2nd year FS Sherrod Martin. Overall this defense is looking real fast but the lack of starting experience will probably result in a few blown coverages early in the season.
BBV: If you could take one player off the Giants roster and put him in Carolina's lineup, who would it be?
Jaxon: Hmmm...tough question. Imagine the agony the guy keeping the box score would be in if he had two Steve Smith's catching passes? I also think DE Justin Tuck would look good in electric blue. I would also have to give serious consideration to Eli since we still don't know if Matt Moore can carry a team to the playoffs. So in summary: Manning, Smith, Tuck if I had to put them in order of preference.