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St. Louis Rams vs Carolina Panthers: A closer look at Carolina

The hobbled St. Louis Rams are home tomorrow against the Carolina Panthers, in another must win game. Bradford will be without WR Danario Alexander and RT Jason Smith. Nothing is simple for the Rams, and they'll have to treat a 1-5 team just like they would any other opponent. 

For some more perspective on the Panthers, I exchanged question with Jaxon over at SBN's Panthers site, Cat Scratch Reader

1: Is Matt Moore and/or Jimmy Clausen a long-term solution in Carolina?

Jaxon: I would hope one of the two fills that role. I’m hopeful both can be starting QB’s in the league. It’s hard to say how long they both remain on the team. Moore is on a one year deal so he still has ten games to affect the outcome of that question.

Should the Panthers have traded Steve Smith, what's their secret on defense and the vertical passing game...after the jump.

2: Do you feel like Carolina should have traded Steve Smith this year?

Jaxon: Absolutely not. He’s still an elite receiver and will be for a few more seasons. Trading him would have sent a bad message and besides, what guarantee is there even multiple draft picks could have an impact of one Steve Smith. His effort last Sunday provided a spark to the entire team. If he handles punts again I think it could have a similar affect this week.

3: The Panthers' passing game came to life against the 49ers last week. Was that a legitimate sign of life or the matchup?

Jaxon: I’m thinking it’s legit and here’s why. Moore started doing the little things we’ve been talking about. He made his reads, didn’t stare down his receivers, he got rid of the ball quick, moved in the pocket when pressure was coming. Outside of one ugly mistake he made good decisions. Of course, he also made some good throws, hitting the speedy Gettis in stride on several occasions. The Panthers prefer the vertical passing game and they now look to have a legitimate threat opposite Smith. The Panthers will throw the ball again 40+ times this Sunday.

4. How does the game plan change if DeAngelo Williams can't play this week?

Jaxon: I’m actually looking forward to seeing Stewart get 25 carries. He’s averaging only 7 carries a game this season and it’s caused a slow start for him in my view. It’s nothing to do with injury or health as he recently claimed to be the most healthy he’s been in years. He’s a rhythm RB who gets better as the game goes on.

It also means Mike Goodson will get some touches. If you like you top two RB’s to be opposites then Stewart-Goodson is your pair. The bruiser in Stewart contrasted with the speed of Goodson. So, I’m okay with Williams taking a week off to heal but I do want him back for the Saints game! Question

5: Carolina's defense has played really well this season. What's that unit's strength?

Jaxon: The heart of the Panther defense lies with the linebackers. PB Jon Beason has moved to WLB and played well though he doesn’t seem to have as many opportunities for plays. Dan Conner as been solid on 1st and 2nd down in the middle. The surprise has been how well James Anderson took over for Na’il Diggs at SLB. He’s top 10 in the NFL in tackles and is all over the field.

Our defensive line is fairly stout but nothing special. Our secondary is young but opportunistic; 2nd in the NFL in INTs. Our DBs are fast and big hitters.