The Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers will face off in Week 3 of their preseason schedules on Thursday night at 7:30pm EST.
To get us ready for Week 3, we’ve got Bradley Smith of CatScratchReader.com here to fill us in on what we can expect from the matchup and what the perspective on this Jaguars team is outside of Jacksonville.
1. Christian McCaffery was a dark horse candidate for the Jaguars to select at No. 4 overall. How's he looked during training camp?
McCaffrey has looked like a top-5 NFL running back during training camp. He's shown an ability to run between the tackles — something "experts" said he wouldn't be able to do at the NFL level — and an insane ability to make people miss in space. He's put all-pro linebacker Luke Kuechly on skates during practice, something that very few people can claim to have done. Panthers fans are excited about what he can bring to the table and are ready to see him step on the field in a meaningful game.
2. Are there any liabilities in the Panthers secondary that you think any of the Jaguars can exploit?
If the Jaguars can attack the Panthers' safeties they might have some success. We're extremely thin at the position due to injuries during training camp, and one of our starters — Mike Adams — is like 100 years old (he's really 36, which is probably 100 in NFL years).
3. For the past five years, the Panthers have ping-ponged between double-digit win totals and losing records. What do you think is the cause for that? And do you think this year is a bounce back towards a winning season?
That's a mystery that will likely never be solved. The Panthers seem to never have a season where they're just "in the hunt" for a playoff spot in November. We're either dominating the league or talking about the draft. Considering recent history (going back to 2012), I'd expect the Panthers to win around 12 games since we went 6-10 last year. Every even-numbered year since 2012 has seen a losing season for the Panthers (2012: 7-9, 2014: 7-8-1, 2016: 6-10), and every odd-numbered year since then has yielded a winning season (2013: 12-4, 2015: 15-1, 2017: ???).
Side note: Our "favorite" season was 2014 when we won the NFC South despite having a losing record. That was fun.
4. Are there any weak links on the Panthers offensive line that our mediocre pass rush can try and take advantage of?
For the first time in what feels like forever, our offensive line actually looks solid right now. I don't want to get my hopes up just in case it's because teams aren't trying too hard since it's preseason, but the offensive line has been giving the quarterback sufficient time in the pocket. If we do have a weak link, it's probably the right tackle spot because we have two guys (Daryl Williams and rookie Taylor Moton) competing for the starting job. Our backup linesmen are also a little suspect, which is to be expected.
5. What does a "win" mean to you on Thursday? I'm not just talking score, but what will you want to see the Panthers do well against the Jaguars?
The final score of the game and "winning" mean nothing to me because this game doesn't count. The only thing I care about is how well the starters play compared to Jacksonville's starters. If the Panthers' first-team is winning the game when the backups start coming in, then I'll consider the game a "win" regardless of what the final score says. The Panthers' first-team (minus Cam Newton, who hasn't played yet this preseason) looked like crap against the Titans last week, so we definitely want to see an improved effort on Thursday in Jacksonville. I want to see the first-team offense move the ball efficiently against the Jags' defense and put points on the board. If the Panthers don't have double digit points at halftime, I'm going to be disappointed.