32 Teams in 32 Days: Carolina Panthers
August 5, 2012INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
With the selection of Cam Newton as the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Carolina Panthers took a huge step towards becoming competitive in the NFC South once again. While they found more wins, they still struggled to overtake the division’s dominant duo in the Saints and Falcons.
In 2011 it was enough to improve; now they need to start conquering.
Today’s 32 Teams in 32 Days examines why Carolina fans should think this a possibility (even if they shouldn’t guarantee it like Ryan Kalil did), while looking at some of the pitfalls that could ruin everything.
Five Reasons to be Confident
1) In Cam They Trust
The NFL isn’t short on playmakers, but it was still stunning to watch the impact that Cam Newton made in his rookie year. All sorts of records were demolished as ‘SuperCam’ displayed an athleticism that teams just couldn’t handle. However, there is no doubt he needs to get more consistent as a passer. He put up tremendous yardage, but made far too many bad throws, especially when the pressure was cranked up. Still, he showed in games like against Chicago in Week 4 just what kind of upside he possesses. Couple that with his nose for the end zone and you’ve got a special talent that could bridge the gap between the Panthers and the top teams in the South.
2) New and Old Faces at Linebacker
While many highly drafted linebackers haven’t fared as well as expected in the NFL over the past four years as rookies, the Panthers have got to hope that Luke Kuechly can buck that trend. The highly touted linebacker has been painted as one of the more complete LBs to enter the league, and with such an investment, Carolina will be counting on him to bring some stability to a group that has struggled mightily.
Bigger news could be the return of the leader of the defense, Jon Beason. Cards on the table, I think Beason is a tad overrated compared to what he actually does from the snap of the ball to a play being whistled dead. He can lay some pretty big hits, but he doesn’t make the impact of top LBs. That’s not to say he isn’t a big upgrade on what Carolina had, orthat having him on the field won’t help this unit out incredibly. Throw in James Anderson (who will be looking to bounce back to his 2010 best) and this could turn out to be one of the best linebacker groups out there.