TAMPA BAY (1-3)
The Buccaneers are digging out of a hole after winning just one of their first four games of the regular season. Jameis Winston hasn’t met expectations of progress during his second year in the NFL. Head coach Dirk Koetter voiced concern about Winston in this article from NFL.com:
"Very (concerned)," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter told the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday following his team's 27-7 loss to the Denver Broncos. When asked how worried he is about his second-year quarterback, Koetter replied "I'm very concerned. ...
"He's not regressing, but we've got to take care of the football. I mean, we've got to take care of the football. We can't turn it over three times in a half. We just can't do that."
Speaking of not meeting expectations, the Panthers are woefully underperforming after last year’s Super Bowl appearance. Much of that seems to be tied to the lack of production in their running game in the absence of RB Jonathan Stewart and with Cam Newton working his way through the league’s concussion protocol.
NFL.com provided the following:
The Carolina Panthers' whitewash loss to the Atlanta Falcons snapped a streak of 35 straight games (including playoffs) with 100-plus rush yards. It had been the longest streak by any NFL team since the late 70s-era Steelers (37).
Coach Ron Rivera said he wants to start a new run.
"Our offensive line is a scrappy bunch, a physical bunch. And to be able to run for 100 yards is just indicative of their scrappiness and toughness. And I'd like to see us get back to that."
A new streak is easier said than done. Cam Newton, the NFL's most consistent running quarterback, remains in concussion protocol. Starting running back Jonathan Stewart is dealing with a hamstring injury that's kept him out the past two contests.
Carolina's running game hasn't been the same without Stewart. Going back to last season, the Panthers are 14-1 and earn 145.2 yards per game with Stewart in the lineup. Without the starter, they are 2-3 with 118.2 rush YPG.
Comparison of the two teams from NFL.com:
There’s your preview for tonight’s tilt between two NFC South teams that are hungry to reverse a slow start to the 2016 season. Grab a cold one and join the conversation live here on Battle Red Blog.