Forget Cam Newton, worry about Carolina defense


Yes, Carolina is 1-3.

Yes, their only win was a systematic destruction of one of the three winless teams in the league, the New York Giants.

And yes, Cam Newton has not only taken steps in the wrong direction this year, he could very well be one of the five worst week-in, week-out throwing quarterbacks in the NFL (along with two Vikings!).

Those sound like good things right (not the Vikings QB part)?

They are, but none address the main issue of concern over the past we-stopped-counting-seven-years-ago-but-its-a-lot seasons, Minnesota's quarterback situation (although, we probably should be more concerned with our own pass defense).

Minnesota has lost plenty of games because of shoddy quarterback play in the past, and if they're to fall to Carolina, it will likely be the reason once again.

This time, though, it may not be what (insert QB here) does, but what the defense does to stop (insert QB here).

Here's why.


PASS D: 8th. RUN D: 7th. OVERALL D: 3rd. POINTS ALLOWED: 3rd (1st in NFC). INTERCEPTIONS: 10th.

The quarterbacks they've faced? Russell Wilson, EJ Manual, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer.

Granted, three of those four rank in the bottom 10 in the league in QB rating.

But so do two Vikings.

Christian Ponder, as we have come to find out over his 29 starts with Minnesota, doesn't exactly take care of the ball particularly well (45 turnovers).

He also has never been one to pick apart tough defenses and advance the ball down the field.

He is one of two possible starters, with Josh Freeman slated to be the third-string QB Sunday.

Matt Cassel is the other, who has shown an utter knack for being ridiculously average over his career. He took first-team reps Wednesday.

Cassel threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns against Pittsburgh in his first good start since 2011.

In his last 18 starts he's thrown 21 interceptions, while also fumbling 14 times.

These QBs turn the ball over.

Carolina has ultra-athletes Luke Kuechley and Thomas Davis at linebacker, and secondary that knows how to cover, since Carolina doesn't get to the quarterback all that often.

With Christian Ponder under center that can mean two things.

A. The feet will get happy, panic will ensue, and turnovers will come in bunches.

B. Ponder will effectively use his feet as his best weapon and create havoc for the Panthers.

For some reason, we tend to lean towards option A.

Matt Cassel also has two ways Sunday could play out.

A. He looks like he did 10 days ago.

B. He looks like he has the 17 starts prior to that.

Whoever it is, let's not downplay the defense they face this week.

Unfortunately for Ponder and Cassel, a tough test comes at the worst time.

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