Behind Enemy Lines: Questions with Cat Crave

Broncos Cam Newton Panthers

Jan 24, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) passes on the sideline during the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship football game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

With the Broncos and Panthers squaring off in this year’s Super Bowl, I got to talk to some of the members over at Cat Crave and get their takes on the game.

The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers meet for all the marbles as the two teams will play for the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl 50.

Peyton Manning vs. Cam Newton, No. 1 Offense vs. No. 1 Defense. This is going to be quite a great game.

This week, I got to sit down with some of the staff writers over at Cat Crave, who is the Carolina Panthers’ site on Fansided and get their takes on the game as well as the state of the Panthers team.

The members that I will be talking to are Eric Quackenbush, DeShawn White, Sean Reece, and Jarret McGhee. Really cool of them to get more than one staff writer on the questions. It will give the readers a chance to see into the thoughts of more than one person.

So, let us get this started. What do the members of Cat Crave think will happen in the game?

PO: Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, and Josh Norman are big time players for the Panthers. With that in mind, which other player will be a key factor in this game?

DW: Running back Jonathan Stewart. Never count him out. I think this game will be good for him. Easily 80-plus yards and a touchdown.

SR: Linebacker Shaq Thompson. I have been really high on Shaq ever since we drafted him. He has shown some flashes this year, including some crushing hits and nice plays on the ball. There always seems to be that “no-name” guy who breaks off a play or two in the Super Bowl. Don’t be surprised if you hear the name Shaq Thompson on Sunday.

EQ: This is a tough question, and the previous responses are excellent. I’m going to go special teams on this one, and say that Ted Ginn, Jr.’s ability to break off a chunk of yardage on a return is a real threat, as is his ability to score on a return.

Great answers guys. All three have been a solid contributor to the team this year.

Broncos Von Miller

Jan 24, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is tackled by Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) in the third quarter in the AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

PO: The Broncos defense is the best the Panthers have faced all year. What must Carolina do in order to limit them?

DW: The Panthers must play the same that they have all year. Give Cam Newton time to make decisions in the pocket, and use the run game to their advantage. Utilizing Greg Olsen and spreading the ball among the other receivers will be key, and challenging Denver to stop the run.

SR: I wouldn’t necessarily say this is the best defense Carolina has played all year. Arizona and Seattle both have great defenses. Arizona’s defensive secondary is equally as good. With that being said, Carolina has a way-better offensive line than New England. If the Panthers’ line can stop the Broncos front seven, then Cam shouldn’t have a problem throwing against Denver’s secondary.

EQ: Denver’s defense is definitely the most complete that Carolina has been challenged with this season. I also find it fitting that the first-ranked defense of the AFC, and the NFL, will defend the highest-scoring offense in the league. I agree with Sean, that Carolina’s offensive line is way better than that of the New England Patriots. That said, Denver’s defense will test Carolina’s offensive line and Cam Newton’s ability as a passer. I think that Carolina must use their run game early and often, mixing Newton, Stewart, Tolbert, and Whittaker in and make Denver respect the run game.

I have to admit, Cam Newton is perhaps the most challenging quarterback the Broncos will be preparing for this entire season because of his dual threat ability.

PO: In your opinion, what makes Cam Newton such a successful player?

DW: Maturity. We’ve all seen him grow into this elite player, so it’s no surprise that he’s found success. He can read defenses to the point that he knows how to react or change if need be, and coupled with his physical gifts, he has the advantage of knowing he can beat defenses with his legs or with his arm. Name any other quarterback that has grown so much.

SR: His freak of nature. Cam Newton is reading defenses much better than when he came into the league. He’s clutch in the big moments, as well. He threw 75% against the Cardinals, and looked great. Shula also plays a part in his success, calling the offensive plays. But the most important reason why Cam Newton is successful, is health. We saw last year where Cam played with broken ribs, came off an ankle surgery, and was involved in a car wreck within a year. Last year was a career-worst for Cam. Turn to this year, and Cam is healthy and he’s the MVP of the NFL.

JM: I believe it is the relationship and bond Cam has really formed with Quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey. In college, the knock on Cam was that he was a guy that made his first reads and then looked for the run. Newton found success his rookie year but you do know the NFL, once a team has tape on you they can expose your weakness. This is what happened to Cam the years that followed. Cam would rely on his talents more than his skill. This season Cam has seemed to pay attention to the little details that makes you a successful NFL Quarterback.

EQ: Cam is a freak of nature. I’ve heard that he and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson are the next class of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady-esque quarterbacks. While I can see the similarities between Russell and Newton, and it may be the closest we see, I also believe Newton is a once-every-ten-years kind of quarterback. I think Newton’s love for the game, respect for others and team owner Jerry Richardson, and some of the struggles and growing pains he’s endured have all played into the development of his success. Continuity on the coaching staff and front office have also played an integral role.

I have to agree. Newton has developed into a solid quarterback. I am certain that he will help this Panthers team compete for quite a few years. I know he will be around for a long time.

Thomas Davis

Jan 24, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) is brought down by Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Thomas Davis (58) as Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) looks on during the second quarter in the NFC Championship football game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

PO: Thomas Davis will play this game after surgery for a broken forearm. How concerned are you with him playing the game while not at 100%?

DW: Davis will try to play at his level, but I’m still concerned with his arm hampering his playmaking ability. He’s super tough, but even playing in a cast still causes pain. I think he’ll be solid for sure, but I really think Thompson and Keuchly will step-up a little more to try and limit the risk of further injuring himself.

SR: I’m not too worried about Thomas Davis. The guy has suffered three ACL tears on one knee, and that hasn’t stopped him. In comparison, Houston Texans’ linebacker J.J. Watt played with a broken hand, and Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski has played with arm casts before, as well. I don’t think the injury will effect him much, if it all.

EQ: Thomas Davis has been a really special piece to this year’s Super Bowl run. He has played through injuries in the past, and the fact that not only is he still playing after his career should have been over after three ACL tears, he’s been playing like it’s his second year in the league. That said, I’d like to see him be able to play at the level he has all season. If his injury had not improved, then I don’t think he’d be cleared to play. I think after he tests it in real game action, he’ll know his threshold for pain, if there is any. If he’s treating it gingerly, then we may see a rotation from time-to-time in his area. Otherwise, I anticipate seeing Davis at 90%.

Great answers guys. I know Thomas Davis will be one player that I will be keeping an eye on. Playing with a cast and 12 screws in your arm. It might not be an easy time for him.

Broncos Panthers

Feb 5, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; General view of Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos helmets prior to Super Bowl 50 at the Golden Gate bridge. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

PO: Alright Cat Crave, what are your predictions for this game?

DW: Panthers win 34-20, Newton Superbowl MVP, complete with one rushing, and two passing touchdowns. Dab on ’em!

SR: I predicted both the Seattle and Arizona games to be close, and we all know how the first half (followed by a nailbiting second half) of the Seattle game went, and then, surprisingly, the Arizona game was a lopsided blowout. I know that both Arizona and Seattle have better offenses, but I still think this will be a close game. If the Broncos defense gets to Cam, then they win. If the Broncos defense can’t get to Cam, then the Panthers will win. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a pick 6 as well. Carolina doesn’t have a great pass rush, but they can get pressure on immobile quarterbacks as we saw against Palmer. I think the Panthers win a close one, 27-23.

EQ: “The Sheriff” versus “Superman.” That’s a nickname of Peyton Manning that I was not aware of until the last month-or-so. This Carolina team has really jelled so well. I haven’t seen a more cohesive team than this one, in my lifetime. Denver’s strength is its defense. It has a solid pass rush, it has the ability to shut-down the run, and it has the second-ranked defensive secondary in the league. Carolina has the upper hand on the offensive side, and a second-ranked defense is nothing to scoff at, either. At the end of the day, if the Panthers can keep the chains moving on offense, limit mistakes, and not allow Manning to settle in, then it’s the Panthers’ game to lose. It will be a close game, and if the Carolina falls behind in the second half, I like their odds to come back for the “W.” Carolina 27, Denver 24 in a come-from-behind win.

Alright. Well thank you Cat Crave for taking the time out to talk about the game with me. You can see what they are up to by following the link here.

Go Broncos!