PFF Preview: Panthers @ Buccaneers, Week 1
Players, coaches, and fans alike are all fired up for the fresh start of another season. And what better way to kick it off than a battle between two rivals in the NFL’s most unpredictable division?
The Panthers bring quite a few high quality players into their 20th season as an NFL franchise, but they will likely only go as far as Cam Newton can take them. Newton’s impressive run grade of +12.6 was tops in the league among signal-callers in 2013, but he undoubtedly looks to improve his aim as a passer (-2.5). His natural ability to evade the rush will certainly help his cause in Week 1 as he will see one of the finest defensive front’s in the NFL (+56.6 combined with the additions of Michael Johnson and Clinton McDonald) lining up across from him.
We’ve given him high praise this offseason, but Gerald McCoy still may be one of the most vastly underrated players in the league. McCoy’s overall grade of +48.8 was head-and-shoulders above the competition (fellow 2010 draft pick Ndamukong Suh placing second among defensive tackles at +32.8). He should be a handful going up against Carolina’s second year left guard Amini Silatolu (+4.5 on 175 snaps last season) and rookie right guard Trai Turner.
Here are some other notable numbers to chew on:
Richard Brockel – Carolina had the second-best special teams grade in the entire league last season at +80.1. Brockel put in good work all around but really excelled in his role on the kickoff team (+3.5).
Thomas Davis – Davis ranked fifth among his 4-3 OLB peers in Pass Rushing Productivity in 2013 (15.9%). Compiling 19 total pressures in 96 pass rushing snaps.
Ryan Khalil – Last year Khalil was one of only four eligible centers to go the whole season without giving up a hit on his quarterback.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Michael Johnson – A new addition, his run grade of +16.3 put him second-best among 4-3 defensive ends (trialing only Rob Ninkovich) last season.
Vincent Jackson – A true deep-target, Jackson saw the long ball (20 yards or more downfield) on 18.6% of his total targets, placing him 11th among wide receivers.
Mark Barron – Barron’s Run Stop Percentage of 6.7% was fourth in the league for eligible safeties and he did even better when lined up as a strong safety (within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage) posting a second-place score of 10.9%
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