Great win Sunday. Now we need to see if we can hold onto our hopes of a wildcard. I look at Sunday's game as a "no pressure game". If we lose it is not as big a deal since it is not an AFC team (tiebreakers) and we are expected to lose to this matchup nightmare (more on that later), and if we win we will be the talk of the AFC for something other than bullying.
With all that being said, Carolina will present many very bad matchups for us. I loved that we used Dion Jordan to neutralize Antonio Gates last week and for the most part didn't put Wheeler and Ellerbe in losing situations (1 on 1 with a RB out of the backfield). I also loved the fire from the offensive line last week, we will need it this week also. We are going to have to be sure to pressure Cam Newton and get him to regress to the Cam that throws picks and doesn't handle pressure well. If he has time, we will be in trouble. So here are my keys to the game this week.
1) Hope this bullygate stuff will settle down some. I keep waiting for the explosion and hope it will be after the season, but if it goes off (firing the OL coach, suspending someone else, etc...) we are screwed even more. Also, if it doesn't go off we need to be able to focus like this past week and get our guys minds on Carolina. I think we could actually catch them at a good time (after playing New England on Monday night then coming to us on a hot Sunday, I hope).
2) STOP THE RUN. Or at least slow it down enough. Teams have realized if you block our front 4 our LB's aren't very good in 1 on 1 situations. I have also noticed alot of teams are "position blocking our guys". They have learned you cannot move them off the ball, so they try to block them in or out and create a seam. Odrick seams to be especially suseptable to this type of blocking. For example: On the long run against us last week, no one was blown off the ball, instead we were pinned inside or outside, creating a big enough seam that the RB went through. We will have to hold Carolina to lower than their normal game to have a chance.
3) Hit Cam Newton. We must do this over and over again. If we do, he will give us some turnovers. If not, we will struggle. Most passes that scare me are off play action, so we must also keep them in 3rd and longs, not 2nd and 5 or less. Wake, Odrick, Starks and others must get pressure in our 4 man rush. I also am a big advocate of bringing Rashad Jones or Wheeler as I think they are our best blitzers (with Jones being the better of the 2).
4) Let Tannehill out of the pocket. His best plays were off boots or when a play broke down and he scrambled. So design some more of those plays for him to get on the edge. I also think he has a better chance to hit Wallace/Clay on those type of plays than from the pocket alone.
5) DOUBLE MOVES. The one time we ran one Wallace was all alone (although we did underthrow it). Teams sit on the sticks when playing us. Hartline and Wallace would be great with a simple out and up or hitch and go and it could be the type of big play we are needing.I even think using Clay out of the backfield against a linebacker on some type of seam or out and up route would result in a big play. Or fake that terrible screen to Wallace and have the other WR go up the sideline. While we are at it, MOVE WALLACE AROUND in formations. We have done that 1 game (Indy) and the man went off.
6) Don't get smoked upfront. I wanted to put dominate upfront, but want be realistic. Carolina is solid in their front 7, so be good enough to run that we can keep them honest. Maybe 28 carries for 100 yards sounds reasonable enough to me. If Daniel Thomas shows up like last week let him run that ball again.
7) Tannehill audibles. Seem to always work. If we trust the guy (and we should after letting him throw it 67% of the time, let him change plays at the line of scrimmage. He is a very smart QB and seems to get the call right when allowed to be a mini Peyton Manning at the line.
If we can accomplish even most of these I could see us get a big win. Playing with house money this week guys, get us a big one Sunday.