Ed: Mike Shula is now in New York and Norv Turner is Carolina’s offensive coordinator. I see Cam Newton completing a career-high percentage of passes and Christian McCaffrey playing well. How has the Carolina offense changed?
Walker: Norv Turner was brought in to run the same offense Shula ran. Cam has basically been in the same system with different coordinators since Rivera got here and that is a system that Rivera stole from Turner when he left San Diego to become Carolina’s head coach. Expect to see a run-first offense with a lot of zone read and options plays. They’ll start there, mix in some short passes to McCaffrey, and then try to hit you deep when your safeties eyes are glued to the offensive backfield.
Ed: You’re game-planning FOR THE GIANTS against the Panthers. How do you attack them on offense and defense?
Walker: The Panthers are going to be confident that James Bradberry can hold his own in coverage against Odell Beckham, Jr. That’s not to say he won’t get safety help from time to time, but he will have his one on one match-ups and he will probably follow Beckham around the field. Bradberry is a quieter player than Josh Norman, however, so don’t expect a repeat of that 2015 game.
With Luke Kuechly keeping everybody up front focused on Saquon Barkley, the edge of the game might fall to Sterling Shepard vs Donte Jackson. He’s a rookie, but he is lightning fast and has great hands. If I were the Panthers, I’d be trying to set up situations where he can lure Manning into some bad decisions and try to force a few turn overs.
Ed: Who are some under-the-radar players Giants fans should watch for on Sunday?
Walker: The Panthers defense is all well known at this point. Donte Jackson has three picks so far as a rookie. Julius Peppers is timeless until he proves otherwise. Eric Reid is a big question mark for a known player, but definitely not under the radar. Look to our number one corner, James Bradberry, who has a strong record of keeping himself and number one receivers out of the headlines.
Their offense is a different story. The names to watch for on third down are Jarius Wright, a free agent acquisition from the Vikings, and Ian Thomas, a fourth-round draft pick. They’ll be the guys the Giants defense will forget about until they convert a third-and-6.
Ed: If you could take any player off the Giants roster other than Saquon Barkley or Odell Beckham Jr. and put him in the Panthers lineup who would it be?
Walker: Chad Wheeler. The Panthers have played or intended to play Matt Kalil, Daryl Williams, Corey Robinson, Taylor Moton, Chris Clark, Amini Silatolu, and Jeremiah Sirles at one or both tackle positions since training camp. Currently, Moton, Clark, Silatolu, and a newly traded for Marshall Newhouse are left standing. A talented, young, and healthy athlete at either end of the offensive line could mean everything for Cam’s already well-paced year.
Ed: How has the Carolina fan base reacted to the signing of Eric Reid? What are your personal thoughts?
Walker: We actually ran a twitter poll - I know, very scientific - two days before they signed him. Eighty-eight percent of respondents were in favor of signing him. The reactions we have had since have roughly matched those results. A few idiots have threatened to burn their tickets or their first born or whatever, but most people seem to recognize that he represents a major step forward for the Panthers on many levels.