Panthers need to turn Newton loose
Mike Shula’s debut as offensive coordinator last week was underwhelming — seven points and a career-low 125 passing yards for Cam Newton, who attempted only three passes that went more than 10 yards downfield. Meanwhile, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had five completions of at least 19 yards against the Bills, including throws of 44 and 50 yards. With the Bills missing starting corner and Rock Hill native Stephon Gilmore, and free safety Jairus Byrd doubtful, Shula needs to dial up a few deep throws.
Hurry up and get off the field
The Panthers struggled against the last up-tempo offense they faced, but used three first-half takeaways to stay close with Philadelphia in the preseason. Buffalo doesn’t fire off snaps quite as quickly as the Eagles, but the Bills have playmakers in running back C.J. Spiller and rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel. It will be up to middle linebacker Luke Kuechly to make the right calls, and up to the defense to stymie the Bills, who had drives of three plays or fewer on five of their 13 possessions against the Patriots.
Finish at the quarterback
The Panthers got good pressure last week on Russell Wilson, only to see the Seahawks quarterback often escape and extend plays. Against New England, the Bills did a good job protecting Manuel, who threw 27 passes without an interception or a sack. Frank Alexander’s ejection killed the Panthers’ DE rotation against the Seahawks. The Panthers will need fresh legs to keep after Manuel vs. the Bills’ hurry-up offense.