Take a quick glance at the tale of the tape for Monday night’s showdown between the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles.
Cam Newton has come under fire during his sophomore season - both for his performance and his perceived indifference to it all. The former Heisman Trophy winner is struggling, but could find the waters smooth against a battered Eagles pass defense. Newton has formed a nice bond with tight end Greg Olsen, who has scored in two of his last three games versus Philadelphia. The Panthers are an uncharacteristic 16th in rushing yardage after racking up more yards on the ground than any team in the NFL since 2008.
With the outcome of last Sunday's game no longer in doubt, LeSean McCoy carried the ball in the waning moments and suffered a concussion that will sideline him versus the Panthers. McCoy and quarterback Michael Vick (concussion) will watch rookies Bryce Brown and Nick Foles continue in their place. Foles tossed interceptions on his first two possessions versus Washington and the game quickly unravelled after that. In addition, wide receiver Jason Avant (strained hamstring) and running back Chris Polk (sprained toe) also will not play against the Panthers.
Panthers DE Greg Hardy, who has seven sacks this season, is dealing with an undisclosed illness and is considered questionable. Linebacker Jordan Senn is doubtful with an ankle injury for a stop unit that ranks in the middle of the pack in most defensive categories.
The Eagles' pass defense has surrendered 11 touchdown passes and hasn’t recorded an interception over the past four weeks. Opposing QBs have rung up a gaudy 143.6 passer rating against Philadelphia over that span.
After firing special teams coach Brian Murphy and replacing him with Richard Rodgers, the Panthers’ special teams struggled again Sunday in the loss to Tampa Bay. The unit failed on a fake punt attempt, and Captain Munnerlyn lost a fumble on a punt return in the contest. After making his first seven attempts this season, including a 5-for-5 performance at Chicago, kicker Justin Medlock has missed his last three field-goal attempts.
The Eagles don't have a kickoff return longer than 31 yards or a punt return longer than 20 yards this season. Punter Mat McBriar is tied for fifth in the league in with a 48.5-yard gross average, but the special teams unit as a whole has been downright awful in Philadelphia and it doesn’t look like things will improve this season.
Edge: Tie. Both teams are equally as bad.
Word on the street
“A lot of the players on defense have been turned over since I left, so I won’t have as great a feel for their defensive personnel as I would have. But as far as a general feel for what the atmosphere is going to be like and what they like to do, yes.” – Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott after being asked if his previous experience serving on the Philadelphia coaching staff will give his defense an advantage Monday night.
“These guys are all competitors and that’s one of the inherent problems with concussion management — they want to play. They know the consequences and everything, but they want to play. We know he’s anxious to go out there and play but we have to be careful with these guys.” – Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder on Michael Vick’s concussion.