The Dolphins have another favorable matchup at home as the winless Carolina Panthers come to town this weekend. Describing the game as “favorable” might not capture the dynamics at place... this is a game they should win, easily. When asked about facing a winless team, Coach Mike McDaniel remarked that an 0-5 team is the “most dangerous opponent you can play.” That’s because they are desperate and will do anything to get on the right side of the win/loss column.
This is especially true for a team like the Carolina Panthers which haven’t really been as bad as their record would indicate. Of their 5 losses to open the season, only the Lions beat them by more than two scores. They have some talented players and a young quarterback who is coming off the most productive day of his career against the Detroit Lions. With the Eagles coming up in primetime the following weekend, this is a dangerous game for the Dolphins. Let’s go over some ways that they could conceivably drop this one and then give our prediction for how it will actually unfold.
We should see more explosive offense from Miami
The Detroit Lions handed the Carolina Panthers their worst loss of the season last week. It was a combination of turnovers from the Carolina offense and an inability to keep the Lions out of the end zone. The Lions have this reputation as a lineup and pound-it sort of smash-mouth team (probably due to their Dan Campbell’s personality), but they use a ton of run/play action and misdirection to get their opponent out of position.
The Lions attacked this Panthers' defense using a ton of play/run action, bootlegs, misdirection, and a couple trick plays. Feels like Carolina is pressing and getting out of position easily.— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 13, 2023
Do we see a WR pass from Cheetah or Waddle!? pic.twitter.com/hZzAw9IHM7
You can tell that this Carolina team was really pressing last week. They’ve lost five games in a row to start the season and are desperate to make game-changing plays. The spirit of this is commendable, but you can’t win like that in the NFL. Unluckily for the Panthers, the Dolphins use a ton of motion/misdirection and they are really good at it. If the Panthers don’t play disciplined defense this weekend, Tua Tagovailoa and the offense will make them pay.
Can Bryce Young hang with Tua and this offense?
Bryce Young is coming off a game in which he registered the most passing yards (247) and touchdowns (3) of his young career. Unfortunately for him, it was also his second game with multiple interceptions this season. The other thing to consider is that two of those touchdowns and a large chunk of those yards came in the 4th quarter after the Lions took a three-score lead (up 35-10).
Bryce Young isn't seeing the field well as a rookie.— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 12, 2023
This is a common concept used to attack cover 2. You're hoping to influence the flat defender enough to squeeze it into the corner route. Bryce stares down his man and lets it go late. Makes for an easy interception. pic.twitter.com/jT2eTBxKfc
A lot of folks around the NFL have already begun to sour on Bryce Young. He’s too small, doesn’t have enough arm talent, and doesn’t see the field well. Is any of that fair? Probably not, but the rookie quarterback is having a hard time elevating an offense in Carolina that is bereft of high-end talent. Young should continue to improve as the season wears on, but at the moment he is in a difficult situation and this should be a favorable matchup for Fangio’s defense.
Scheme away their strengths
The Panthers have some talented players on defense and the two that Miami will need to account for the most are edge rusher Brian Burns and interior defensive lineman Derrick Brown. Both Brown and Burns were downgraded to non-participants on Thursday’s practice after getting in limited sessions on Wednesday. Their status should be monitored closely as they are the two players with the talent to really give Miami problems.
The Panthers don't have a defense loaded with talent, but they have two clear-cut difference makers in Brian Burns (#0 Edge) and Derrick Brown (#95 IDL). pic.twitter.com/K8F8wF1Kdn— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 12, 2023
Outside of those two, there isn’t a ton of star power on this Panther’s defense. They run a lot of zone defense and their defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero is a Vic Fangio disciple from his days in San Francisco. Similar to the Dolphins, they are in the midst of conforming to this new scheme and haven’t quite gelled. We should expect to see a lot of two high safeties (shocking) and some cover 2/4/6 variations from this defense. These should be coverage shells that Tua Tagovailoa is intimately familiar with by now and it would be surprising if it gave them problems.
It’s difficult to find an area where this Carolina Panthers team can really make problems for these Miami Dolphins. The biggest challenge for Miami’s coaching staff will be keeping them focused on this week’s opponent, rather than looking ahead to their primetime showdown with the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles. The Panthers will need an inspired performance from Bryce Young and their defense for this game to be competitive. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the probability of those two things happening is low. We will see the Miami Dolphins roll over the Carolina Panthers 42-24.