Tale Of The Tape: Carolina Panthers At Minnesota Vikings
- QuarterbackThe Week Five loss to the Arizona Cardinals was a vital game for Cam Newton. He had performed well in his previous game vs. the Giants and the Panthers were coming off a bye week. He should have been primed for a huge game. While he threw for 308 yards, he threw three interceptions and makes far too many mistakes.The Vikings got a win with Matt Cassel at quarterback and he gives them their best chance going forward. While he is not an elite quarterback under any circumstances, he can read defenses, throw the ball accurately and find the safety valve if his primary receivers aren’t open. Along with handing the ball to Adrian Peterson, that’s all he has to do.
- OffenseThe clock is ticking for Panthers head coach and he has to know it. He should feel like throttling his offense. The Panthers have plenty of talent in DeAngelo Williams, Greg Olsen, Ted Ginn and Steve Smith. The only one who plays hard every week is Smith. There is no excuse for Williams not being a consistent 100-yard-per-game type.If the Vikings keep Cassel in the lineup from this point forward, it could be the turning point for the franchise this season. He gives Peterson a fighting chance to be a dominant player. Nobody can do it on their own every week, not even Peterson. Jerome Simpson and Greg Jennings are more than adequate receivers who can both make big plays.
- DefenseThe Panthers did not self-destruct on defense like the offense, but they did not come up with a special game. They can depend on Luke Kuechly every week to be one of the best tacklers in the game. Outside linebacker Thomas Davis is also dependable, while Greg Hardy can change the flow of any game with his pass rush.The Vikings need to get a maximum effort out of defensive end Jared Allen to be effective on a consistent basis. Allen has 3.5 sacks and he has the speed to come around the corner and dominate. Outside linebacker Chad Greenway is quite underrated. In addition to leading the team with 35 tackles, he has four passes defensed, two interceptions and 1.0 sack.
- Special TeamsThe Panthers are ordinary in special teams play, and that’s another negative because they should be much better since they have the explosive Ginn returning punts and kickoffs. Graham Gano is a good kicker with a strong leg. Brad Nortman is an above-average punter.The Vikings have a big-play performer in Cordarrelle Patterson who has already brought one kickoff back for a touchdown and has the speed to exploit poor coverage. Blair Walsh has been a solid kicker who has made 8-of-9 FG attempts this season. Jeff Locke is a decent punter.
The Vikings are coming off their only win and a bye week, and should be in a good position to play a solid game at home. The Panthers fell apart after their only solid game of the season and there’s little hope because Newton is so inconsistent. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor