Our Interview with the Enemy series continues this week with Brian Beversluis from Cat Scratch Reader. Brian joins us to answer a few quick questions before the Carolina Panthers matchup against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.
TH: The Panthers are 0-2, they have not won a game since Nov. 14th, 2021, and fans are calling for Matt Rhule to be fired. David Tepper has said that he supports Rhule but for how much longer, if the struggles continue?
BB: David Tepper has been looking for success soon clearly. It’s evident by their apparent interest in Deshaun Watson (thankfully that didn’t happen), and their trade for Baker Mayfield. A team that wants to tank would have just sat on Sam Darnold and taken their lumps this year. I think Matt Rhule is on the hot seat and if they don’t turn it around soon, I’d be surprised if Rhule has a job by the end of the season. The only caveat there is that Phil Snow, their defensive coordinator, is a Rhule guy. So, if they let Rhule go I believe he goes too. They have DB coach Steve Wilks and OC Ben McAdoo, so there is a structure for Matt Rhule to be ousted if those two guys take over at HC and DC. But hard to say. All I know is I believe Tepper is going to get fed up sooner than later.
TH: The Panthers traded for Baker Mayfield to bring a spark to their offense but so far, his performances have been lackluster. What are your thoughts on Mayfield, and do you think he will improve, or we will see Sam Darnold starting when he returns from his ankle injury?
BB: I like Mayfield. I think that a lot of his struggles have come from the Panthers pretending to have a QB competition between him and Darnold. However, if the woes continue it appears they’ll give Darnold a shot as a starter. Not ideal. The Panthers didn’t figure out their starting offensive line until two weeks into the preseason. I think the offensive line needed more time to gel and Rhule making guys like 6th overall pick Ikem Eckwonu earn his job ended up being detrimental. Mayfield presents big play opportunity though, and I believe they’d be better served allowing him to start every game he is healthy. Will they? I don’t know.
TH: Getting Christian McCaffery back has been a huge plus for the Panthers offense but given his injury history and how heavy the offense has relied on him in the past, do you think they will lighten his workload to keep him from wearing down throughout the season?
BB: They already have lightened his workload. He has had 33 touches between the first two games. He had about 30 in the first two games EACH last season. They are trying to lighten his workload and that burden has fallen on Mayfield to pass a lot more than I would have expected. I think they’ll continue to do this until they have no choice and need to win some game.
TH: Who is the most underrated player on the Panthers roster that you have been excited to watch this season and why?
BB: Safety Xavier Woods has been the most consistent player they have in the secondary. I wasn’t super excited to watch him as I expected him to be more of a middle of the road piece on defense, but his communication skills and overall play have probably been the best beyond maybe Jeremy Chinn. Woods would have had the Panthers only turnover of the season were it not for a horrible pass interference play by CB CJ Henderson in week one. He’s a solid starting safety and pairs perfectly with Chinn.
TH: According to DraftKings DFS, the Saints are currently 2.5 points favorite. Do you think that they cover the spread? What is your final score prediction?
BB: I think the Saints more than cover the spread with the offensive woes the last couple of weeks. The Saints defense is very good and unless we see some heroics like week one from Baker, I don’t see the Panthers keeping this close. I predict a 24-10 win by the Saints.
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