By HCR Staff | Oct. 15, 2019
Ron Rivera has the Carolina Panthers in his image again and Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not as far behind as their record indicates. Ron Rivera was a physical player, and it’s always been his goal to build a physical team, centered around defense and a running game. He’s had success before with this formula, and in a very tough division, it’s the required formula for winning. Once again, the Panthers have a very physical, active defense, particularly with the addition of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner is using running back Christian McCaffrey creatively; however, it remains to be seen if McCaffrey can keep up this pace for the entire season. Turner, however, is doing a terrific job bringing along backup quarterback Kyle Allen. Allen increasingly looks like starter material, and his physical gifts also are coming to the fore. He is very accurate, has a quick release, and a very good feel for the game. The Panthers wide receiver group looks reborn, and they are playing with a very high degree of confidence. As for Bruce Arians, we feel he is doing a very good job molding the Buccaneers into his image. While QB Jameis Winston had five interceptions, he also continues to show flashes of brilliance. He endured an unrelenting pass rush yesterday, but also stood in to make some terrific throws. His feel for the game, however, still needs refinement. He continually overestimates his physical ability to extend plays. Having said that, yesterday’s loss was not all on Winston. At the end of the first half, Winston threw a beautiful deep ball to WR Mike Evans, who was unable to come up with the catch. If Evans catches that ball, it changes the entire complexion of the game. Arians has done a good job making the Buccaneers a mentally tougher team, particularly in the face of a very inequitable early-season schedule.
Mike Tomlin goes back to basics in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ big road win against the Los Angeles Chargers. If you’re a Steelers fan, we believe you should feel good about Mike Tomlin’s back-to-basics approach in Sunday’s victory. For the first time in a long time, the Steelers didn’t try to get cute — Tomlin let his players play to their ability. This week, Tomlin did what a head coach is hired to do — he injected energy into his team, and he put his players in a position to be productive. Starting a third string quarterback, Tomlin wisely kept the approach vanilla, and generally only had QB Devlin Hodges make quarterback-friendly throws. On defense, Tomlin went back to his roots and played a zone scheme and forced the Chargers to undertake long drives — Tomlin was not going to give anything up over the top. The result was a very positive victory for the Steelers, and most importantly, gave many of the younger Steeler players a reason to grow their confidence. It’s not always x’s and o’s with head coaches, as the single most important aspect of their job is leadership. Tomlin showed that in Week 6, and kept the Steelers in the divisional race.
It’s never too early to think about playoffs (NFC Edition). There is still plenty of football left, but there’s some important games being played NOW.
- The Philadelphia Eagles are 3-3 and all three losses have come to NFC teams outside of the division. This is important for potential Wild Card seeding as it is looking like there will only be one playoff team to come out of the NFC East. This week’s Sunday Night contest against the Dallas Cowboys (3-3) is for control of the division (for now). It’s a must-win for each team.
- All three of the Los Angeles Rams’ losses have come to NFC opponents, including two within the division. It is possible that the defending NFC Champions are on the outside looking in for the playoffs. Luckily for them, they have two easier games ahead on their schedule in Atlanta and Cincinnati before they face a more difficult stretch where they head to Pittsburgh then come back to Los Angeles for back to back matchups against the Bears and Ravens.