Week 8 of the NFL season kicks off tonight as the Tampa Bay Bucs host the Carolina Panthers. Ian Eagle, Trent Green and sideline reporter Laura Okmin will have all the action from Raymond James Stadium beginning at 8 PM Eastern. For a preview of the game, Trent Green filed this report:
Panthers on the Prowl:
Defensively, Carolina has looked great this year, with the third-ranked defense overall and fourth against the rush. They’re also third in the NFL in third-down efficiency and they’ve only allowed a 100-yard rusher just once this season (C.J. Spiller in Week 2). Their defense is doing a great job.
The improvement has been on the offensive side of the ball with first-year offensive coordinator Mike Shula. He’s been there for three years, but this is his first year calling plays. Cam Newton has also settled down and is playing much better – especially the past two weeks. Against Minnesota, he completed 88% of his passes and last week against St. Louis, he connected on 77%. With Cam playing that efficiently and with the defense playing that well, Carolina has turned it around.
Step up to the Mike:
It’s a little too soon to really form an opinion on Bucs starting quarterback Mike Glennon, but in the three games he has started, he’s steadily improved every week. His completion percentage has gotten better, as has his quarterback rating and touchdown-to-interception ratio. He’s attempted more than 40 passes in all three games, which is a concern. With a young quarterback, you’d like to see more balance with the running game, but Tampa hasn’t been able to do that. I think the fact that Mike has the organization in his corner after they sent Josh Freeman packing and made it his team is a positive for him. He’s the quarterback for the foreseeable future and they’re going to try to grow the team around him.
Whose seat is hottest?
Which head coach in this game is on shakier ground? Tough question. With Tampa Bay being 0-6, you’d think that it’s Greg Schiano. But because of the moves they’ve made in jettisoning Freeman, they’ve clearly taken the side of the head coach over the quarterback. If you’re going to do that, you want to see him build his program. Bailing on him now seems illogical. So with that said, I would put Ron Rivera on more of the hot seat. With a new GM in Carolina in Dave Gettleman, Rivera is facing an evaluation period this year. A lot of times with a new general manager, you see a change immediately or after the first year. That history says Rivera has a lot to prove over the final 10 games of 2013.
– Trent Green
Former NFL quarterback Trent Green is the analyst for Thursday Night Football on WestwoodOne. Tonight, he’ll be alongside Ian Eagle for the call as the Carolina Panthers visit the Tampa Bay Bucs. Coverage begins at 8 PM Eastern on WestwoodOne.