The Baltimore Ravens (4-3) will take on the Carolina Panthers (4-2) on Sunday. With both teams vying for a playoff spot in their respective conferences, it will be a matchup that many will have eyes on.
Kyle J. Andrews: Cam Newton has shown improvement to his accuracy throughout the season. What particular changes have you seen that have led to this happening?
Joshua A. Vinson: I think it goes back to the hiring of Norv Turner. He was brought in to help Cam capitalize on his offensive weapons and not automatically rely on his feet. From training camp on until now, Newton is continuing to trust Turner and it’s paying off. Look at the fourth quarter against the Eagles last weekend. Newton beat his opponents by utilizing his arm versus making a run for it.
KJA: Former Maryland wideout D.J. Moore was presumably a target for the Ravens in the 2018 NFL Draft. How has the first-round pick been developing this season?
JAV: Slowly but surely. Ron Rivera said at the beginning of the season he would slowly integrate Moore into this offense. D.J. has helped out a lot on special teams. He’s also become one of Cam’s go to receivers. In the game at Washington when Moore had two turnovers, Newton continued to target him.
Now with Torrey Smith being out this weekend against the Ravens, expect Moore to have more of a role this Sunday.
KJA: Greg Olsen has started off slowly after returning from his foot injury. Do you think that he’ll be able to bounce back from it?
JAV: Yeah I think so. I mean, we have to remember all of the years that Olsen has been in the league it’s been these last two years where he’s suffered significant injuries. He’s getting older as well so that plays a role but I believe he can still be a big contributor to this team.
KJA: Carolina as a whole is 27th in total offensive yards gained (2,180) and 18th in yards gained per game (363.3). What has been the main issue with the team’s inability to get big chunks of yardage?
JAV: To be honest, I’m not sure. I believe that part of this goes back to this brand new offense that Turner is running with Cam and everyone buying in and trusting the process.
KJA: The Panthers have historically been known for their defense, but their pass rush is currently in the middle of the road, ranked at 18 (16.0). What’s going on?
JAV: I think this is something Eric Washington and company must address. The Panthers defense isn’t where it needs to be. They always talk about how they get a chance to go against Newton and this explosive offense, but in games it doesn’t really pay off.
Looking back at the Philly game, Carson Wentz got everything he wanted, but when it came to crucial third downs and the fourth quarter, this Panthers defense held their own. There are a lot of inconsistencies with the defense.
KJA: A lot of talk in Baltimore has been about Julius Peppers in terms of the pass rush. Mario Addison leads the Panthers in sacks with 4.5. Why do you think his name hasn’t been brought up as a legitimate pass rusher?
Pep [Peppers] is just more so a house hold name and more than likely future Hall of Famer. Addison is well-respected and his work speaks for itself. The Ravens better have him on their radar.
KJA: After Josh Norman departed, it was thought that Carolina would have a tough time dealing with his absence. Now, Donte Jackson is on the scene, tied for the league lead with three interceptions. What about the 2018 second-round selection impresses you the most?
His skill set and his energy that he brings not only on the field, but in the locker room is what most surprises me. He’s the type of guy that gets everyone going. The Panthers got a great cornerback in Jackson.