Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

NFL

Scuffling Panthers draw red-hot Vikings defense

The Minnesota Vikings have come to count on their defense early in the season.

That might be a message to the Carolina Panthers to crank up the offense a few notches when the teams collide Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.

The feel-good moments for the Panthers have vanished, particularly after squandering a late-game lead in last week’s loss to Philadelphia.

Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold has struggled the past two games and the Vikings (2-3) might be a tough foe against whom to get back on track. He has been sacked eight times and thrown five interceptions in Carolina’s two losses.

“We’ve got to coach it better, play better,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule said, noting shortcomings along the offensive line. “We have to do a better job of protecting Sam.”

Minnesota’s defense has given up just one passing touchdown over the past three games combined.

The Panthers (3-2) began the season with a three-game winning streak, but there were few signs of that level of play for much of the past two games.

“I think this week will really define who we are,” Rhule said.

The Vikings are aiming to reach a .500 mark before an open week on the schedule.

“I think it would be a good milestone for us to get to there,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “If we can just continue to improve, we’ll win our share of games.”

Zimmer said he’s encouraged by the approach from quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has become more vocal.

Cousins knows the Panthers can be tough to throw against. They’re allowing just 161.6 yards per game in the air, tops in the NFL.

“A really good defense,” Cousins said. “They challenged us last year.”

The Vikings won 28-27 against Carolina last November at home.

Minnesota has used more three-wide set-ups on offense this season, something that Cousins said can offer more variety.

“So much of it is situationally based,” Cousins said. “You try to study every situation of how will they defend us or play against us.”

A mixture of pass formations could prove even more invaluable against the Panthers, who’ve dealt with injuries and significant personnel changes in the secondary the past few weeks. It’s unclear if Carolina newcomer CJ Henderson, a cornerback, will be available.

Minnesota, which has dropped both of its road outings, managed just one touchdown in last week’s 19-17 home victory against Detroit. The outcome was determined on Greg Joseph’s last-second 54-yard field goal.

That helped soothe some of the shortcomings for Minnesota.

“It’s all fixable. We just got to clean it up,” Zimmer said. “We need to be focused again.”

Both teams are waiting on the status of standout running backs. Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook has missed two games, including last week, with an ankle injury. Alexander Mattison has been filling in for Cook.

“They’re not going to put me out there if they feel I’m a liability,” Cook said Wednesday.

Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey has been out for two games because of a hamstring injury, but could be ready for action against Minnesota, Rhule said. He has practiced on a limited basis early this week.

Rookie running back Chuba Hubbard gained 101 yards on 24 carries in the Philadelphia game.

“I think he’ll be a tremendous complement whenever Christian is back with us,” Rhule said.

The Vikings are 9-6 all-time against Carolina, but just 2-3 in five previous trips to Charlotte.

–Field Level Media

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

PlayAction Podcast

NCAAF

Subscribe to the PlayAction Podcast here Mike Frank of IrishSportsDaily.com joins the show to preview #12 Notre Dame’s showdown against #18 0:45: Mike talks about what...

NCAAF

  TexAgs.com’s Jason Howell joins the show to break down Saturday’s showdown between #7 Texas A&M and #16 Arkansas on Saturday afternoon at “Jerry World”...

NFL

We have another great guest as respected – and transparent – player Clev TA joins the show.  You can follow him on Twitter @ClevTA and check...

NFL

    Tej Seth (@tejfbanalytics) from PFF and Michigan Football Analytics joins the show. 1:05: We talk about how he uses math to break down football and how he...

NFL

    John from the Big Blue Offensive Podcast joins the show to talk about the Giants’ disappointing opener against the Broncos and whether the short...

NCAAF

Chris Buchignani from The Obligatory PSU Podcast joins the show as our first repeat guest to talk about Penn State’s 2-0 start and the Nittany Lions...

NFL

  Dennis Ackerman from BLEAV In Raiders joins the show to preview Las Vegas’ upcoming 2021 season and Monday night’s opener against the Baltimore Ravens. Dennis...

NFL

  Mark Bergin from the BLEAV In Steelers podcast joins the show to preview Pittsburgh’s 2021 season. He offers his “crazy theory” regarding Ben...

NFL

John Hendrix from BLEAV In Saints joins the show to preview New Orleans’ 2021 season and Sunday’s opener against the Green Bay Packers. Hendrix explains why...

More From The PlayAction Post

NFL

Coaches Pete Carroll and Sean Payton both cautioned that it’s still early in the season. For Payton, it was in reference to New Orleans’...

NFL

The Miami Dolphins are widely considered the favorite to land quarterback Deshaun Watson if he’s traded by the Houston Texans, but one sportsbook is...

NFL

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith feels good about the health of his team, including the secondary he disagreed was “banged up pretty good.” There...

NFL

The Denver Broncos addressed their linebacker shortage Monday by acquiring Kenny Young from the Los Angeles Rams. The Broncos also will receive a seventh-round...

Advertisement