Gang up on Lynch
The game footage of Atlanta running back Michael Turner bulling his way over and through Panthers defenders last week had to make Marshawn Lynch smile. Lynch, the NFL’s leading rusher with 423 yards on 92 carries, is the same type of power runner as Turner – but with more burst. That could spell trouble for a Panthers defense with a bad habit of arm-tackling. If last week is any indication, it will take a team effort to bring Lynch down.
The Panthers finally unveiled a consistent pass rush last week when they sacked Matt Ryan seven times, which tied a team single-game record. Carolina’s front four will have to do more running against the mobile Russell Wilson, who is not afraid to take off from the pocket. Meanwhile, the Panthers’ offensive line needs to recognize fronts and communicate against a Seahawks defense that sacked Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers eight times in the first half on Sept. 24. Like Wilson, Cam Newton is dangerous on the move. But the Panthers’ vertical attack requires Newton having time to throw.
Panthers second-year coach Ron Rivera wants his team to establish an identity. Rivera missed a chance to make a statement against the Falcons when he elected to punt on fourth-and-1 rather than go for the first down that would have sealed the game. The Panthers need a win going into the bye week or they risk becoming irrelevant. They need to play and coach like a desperate team, taking chances with calls and keeping their foot on the pedal should they get a lead.