You know, it's really a shame that we don't get to play the Carolina Panthers more often. Their site on SB Nation, Cat Scratch Reader, has one of the best names of any site we have on the network. Of course, I'm a bit biased on that. . .see, Cat Scratch Reader is obviously a take-off on the Ted Nugent hit Cat Scratch Fever. Ted Nugent put out an album called Double Live Gonzo back in 1978, and in the first few years of this particular site, yours truly was known as Gonzo.
I'm sure if I try hard enough, there's a connection to Kevin Bacon that can be made somewhere, too, but that's something for another time.
In any case, we've exchanged questions with the good folks over at Cat Scratch Reader, namely their head writer Jaxon. I'll link to the responses I sent him to his questions once they get them up on their site, but these are the responses I got from him to my questions. Enjoy, everyone!
(UPDATE: My responses to Jaxon's questions are right here.)
Of all the great things that Cam Newton has done in his first seven NFL games, what impresses you the most about him?
That’s not an easy question since he has impressed in many areas he was thought to be weak. So in that regard his ability to stand in the pocket under pressure and deliver downfield strikes with some accuracy has most impressed me. Of course watching him escape pressure and run downfield has been fun too. Even better is watching him go deep to a rejuvenated Steve Smith who can be fairly impressive himself to watch.We know about the Panthers' running back tandem and how good they are, but the wide receiving corps is largely anonymous. Tell us a bit about the guys that Newton is throwing the ball to.
Well of course Steve Smith gets his fair share of touches. Beyond him though based on number of targets the #2 has been Legadu Naanee. Naanee is playing better the last couple games but he struggled with drops early in the season. Behind Naanee is the TE combo of Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen. Olsen started strong but then has given way to Shockey on 3rd down last couple of games. OC Rob Chudzinski also likes to throw to the RBs and FB Jerome Felton as well. The Panthers do spread the ball around and given the Vikings have struggled against the pass I expect them to throw it a lot Sunday.
As Viking fans, we're familiar with new Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera from his days in Chicago. What are your impressions of him, and do you think he's the guy to lead the Panthers to prominence?
Though on the surface Rivera seems like cut from the same cloth as the stoic John Fox, Rivera is much more candid and doesn’t mince his words when discussing his players and their performance. He sets high standards of play for his players and expects them to perform. For example RB Mike Goodson, who was returning kick offs until three weeks ago, got benched for bobbling a single kick and hasn’t been active since. Rivera has a long way to go though to instill discipline in this team. They committed 13 penalties in last week’s win against the Redskins. They can’t afford to do that again. To answer your question though, I’ve been impressed with him and I think Rivera has what it takes as a coach to win the Super Bowl.
Tell us about the Panthers' defense and what you think they might do to not only limit Adrian Peterson, but to try to take advantage of Christian Ponder in his second NFL start.
I’m not really expecting them to stop AP, just keep him out of the end zone would be nice. We just need our entire front 7 to man up and focus on stopping Peterson and then hope Ponder makes a few mistakes. Expect a few zone blitzes throughout the game from either LBs James Anderson or Omar Gaither or SS Charles Godfrey.
Who is one player, on either side of the ball, that is relatively unknown outside of the Panthers' fan base that you think could have a big impact on Sunday's game?
I guess I will go with DE Greg Hardy, who we affectionately call The Kraken. Hardy has become a play maker for us and is nice bookend opposite Charles Johnson. Hardy has speed, size and strength and is coming off two straight very good games. Twice the Redskins tried to fool Hardy with the bootleg and one time he sacked Beck into a grounding call and the other he swatted down like he was playing badminton. Hardy and Johnson switch sides throughout the game so both of your tackles will line up on both players.
What do you see the final score of this one being?
I’m seeing a high scoring affair, the Panthers through the air and the Vikings on the ground. Panthers 34 Vikings 31