Oct 17, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers safety Kenny Robinson (27) picks up a block punt and returns it for a toudhdown in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

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Scuffling Panthers shifting gears on offense against Giants

The Carolina Panthers have pointed out their designs on making changes after being pushed around too much in recent games.

The New York Giants need to change their formula as well.

So whatever team adapts best to any new tweaks might be in the best position for success when the Panthers and Giants meet Sunday afternoon in East Rutherford, N.J.

“We’re going to redefine who we are,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule said. “We’re going to run the football, and we’re going to protect our quarterback.”

The Panthers (3-3) are on a three-game skid, losing their past two at home. They’re 0-2 against NFC East members.

To avoid another slip-up against a team from that division, Carolina will have to figure out quite a few things on offense. That could boost a defense that might be getting worn down late in some games.

The Panthers had less than 27 minutes of possession time in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings, so that might have been part of Rhule’s concern.

The Giants (1-5) have given coach Joe Judge lots to assess as they try to get something going.

“Guys have to step up. Guys have to make plays,” Judge said. “You have to understand how you have to play. We have to understand our players as coaches as to how to use them.”

Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold had a strong start to the season, but his performance has faded drastically the past couple of weeks.

Rhule said a philosophy adjustment on offense is needed. It sure sounds as if he doesn’t intend for the Panthers to have such a wide-open approach.

“That’s going to change — I can tell you right now,” Rhule said. “You’ll see a vastly different look from us moving forward. We’re not going to line up and drop back and throw it 40 times a game and think that’s going to win the game for us.”

Carolina will remain without injured running back Christian McCaffrey. But Rhule said rookie Chuba Hubbard, who has 281 rushing yards this season, has shown the ability to pick up crucial yards.

While Darnold has received attention this year based on a few running plays for touchdowns, it’s Giants quarterback Daniel Jones who has been a more accomplished ballcarrier. In the past two-plus seasons, he’s the third-leading quarterback in the NFL in rushing yards with 903.

Both quarterbacks have interesting backgrounds regarding this matchup.

Jones will compete against his hometown team. He grew up in Charlotte, N.C., and then played college ball at Duke.

Darnold goes back to the stadium that was his home venue when he played with the New York Jets before the trade to Carolina during the offseason. This will be his 20th career start at MetLife Stadium.

There’s the notion that the Panthers haven’t been tough enough. It’s something that has been emphasized.

“Playing more physical,” Panthers safety Jeremy Chinn said of the solution.

New York has similar issues on defense.

“It just hasn’t been acceptable, and I’m going to do everything I can to try to change that and make that better one step at a time,” Giants safety Logan Ryan said.

The Giants are awaiting word on the status of running back Saquon Barkley’s ankle injury.

“No hard timelines,” Judge said in regard to Barkley. “Obviously, we want to have him back as soon as possible.”

Devontae Booker has been filling in.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore could be in the Carolina lineup as he works into playing shape after arriving in a trade from the New England Patriots.

Ex-Carolina kicker Graham Gano is with the Giants, perhaps a rough reminder for Panthers fans about the consistency the team once had in the kicking game. Former Panthers cornerback James Bradberry is coming off a solid outing in the Giants’ secondary.

The Panthers have won six of 10 all-time meetings, including the most recent clash, 33-31 in 2018.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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