RECORDS & AWARDS
NFL PREVIEW: CAROLINA PANTHERS
July 3, 2012Richmond High School
Last year: 6-10, 3rd in NFC South, missed playoffs
Along with quarterback Cam Newtown, came a hope that the Panther's team hasn't had in years. Even after a 6-10 season, there was still excitement and vigor amongst this football team because of Newton, the first national level star the team has ever had. Despite the excitement, one person can't carry a team and the defense found themselves ranked 28th in the league due to injuries. Not only will they need to worry about getting healthy and staying that way, but they'll have to adapt to the regime Ron Rivera has installed. Towards the end of the season it started to flow and with no lockout, that same momentum should drift into the offseason where the Panthers can become more competent and confident.
The Panthers offense goes back and forth between an Air Coryell and a spread option. The best move about the offensive came in keeping coordinator Rob Chudzinski after he interviewed for head coaching jobs. This gives him another year to work with Newton. He was able to transform Newton's deep ball ability to fit traditional bounds yet used a lot of the concepts the quarterback was used to while in college. That transformation paid off as Newtown passed for 4,051 yards, 7.8 yards per attempt, as well as an NFL-record of 14 rushing TDs. To continue adjusting in the right direction, this team needs to continue moving the ball. What's uncertain is the role of the receivers for the upcoming year. Despite looking at several top receivers in the draft, the Panthers stayed firm with what they have. What they have is Steve Smith, an aging player but with the contract he just received, is expected by the coaching staff to continue to play at high levels. Hoping to continue forward is Brandon LaFell as well as David Gettis who is returning after an (ACL) injury.
After slugging through special teams, third-string, and fourth-string linebackers, Coach McDermott should have an excellent group to run his 4-3 style defense. After a torn achilles, Jason Beason never truly returned to the player he was, making room for first-round rookie Luke Kuechly. From that standpoint, anything they get from Thomas Davis who's suffered from three ACL tears is just a bonus. From there, James Anderson will move back to where he's more comfortable, (as the third of the three and playing two down), rounding out the Panthers coverage. Now the question arises; who will rush the passer? With promises to be more aggressive, McDermott knows it's needed because of the lack of talent in the front four. Celebrating a $72 million deal after a nine sack season is Charles Johnson.
The biggest weak spot for the Panthers is special teams under coordinator Brian Murphy. One would think that the biggest standout issue last season would be the late-game field goal misses by Olindo Mare. But wait. There's more. Ranking among the league's worst in kicks and punt coverage (because of injuries), special-team players like Dan Connor and Jordan Senn were forced into starting positions and that made for a lack of depth on special teams. Placing fourth-rounder Joe Adams scored four touchdowns on returns last season at Arkansas but more stability in front of him wouldn't hurt.
With one year of good health, the Panthers are returning with the same coaching staff with high hopes they'll see this year through to a happy ending. Convinced he's a good assistant, McDermott will need time to get his feet underneath him after looking astounded at times with the Philadelphia Eagles. With a mix of old and young coaches, this team should look better than what they appear to be at times.
2012 Draft Recap
Seven picks total for the Carolina Panthers and the best for them ended up being LB Luke Kuechly from Boston College. The kind of player that the coaches can build a defense around, Kuechly impressed coaches with his movement and intelligence.
LB Luke Kuechly. Boston College
First round.. 9th pick overall.
G Amini Silatolu. Midwestern State
Second round. 40th pick overall.
If he can overcome level-of-competition concerns this powerful blocker will have a chance to compete for starting at a left guard job.
DE Frank Alexander. Oklahoma
Fourth round. 103rd pick overall.
Despite the thin group, Alexander is known to be a hard worker and has a big chance to contribute because of it.
WR Joe Adams. Arkansas
Fourth round. 104th overall.
Adams will get his first chance as a punt returner, after he averaged 16.9 yards a return last season and four touchdowns.
CB Josh Norman. Coastal Carolina
Fifth round. 143rd overall.
Thirteen career interceptions, four forced fumbles, and four blocked kicks, Josh Norman is just what the Panthers needed due to opponents throwing impunity at whoever was playing opposite Chris Gamble last year.
P Brad Nortman. Wisconsin
Sixth round. 207th overall.
Considering he's the only punter the Panthers have, there's a good chance he'll make the roster.
FS D.J. Campbell. California
Seventh round. 216th overall.
Only a one-year starter but a four-year special teams player at Cal, he's going to have to make his way running down kicks.
Sun. Sept. 9 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium 4:15 p.m. FOX
Sun. Sept. 16 vs. New Orleans Saints Bank of America Stadium 1:00 p.m. FOX
Thu. Sept. 20 vs. New York Giants Bank of America Stadium 8:20 p.m. NFLN **
Sun. Sept. 30 at Atlanta Falcons Georgia Dome 1:00 p.m. FOX
Sun. Oct. 7 vs. Seattle Seahawks Bank of America Stadium 4:05 p.m. FOX
Sun. Oct. 14 Bye
Sun. Oct. 21 vs. Dallas Cowboys Bank of America Stadium 1:00 p.m. FOX
Sun. Oct. 28 at Chicago Bears Soldier Field 1:00 p.m. FOX
Sun. Nov. 4 at Washington Redskins FedEx Field 1:00 p.m. FOX
Sun. Nov. 11 vs. Denver Broncos Bank of America Stadium 1:00 p.m. CBS
Sun. Nov. 18 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Bank of America Stadium 1:00 p.m. * FOX
Mon. Nov. 26 at Philadelphia Eagles Lincoln Financial Field 8:30 p.m. ESPN
Sun. Dec. 2 at Kansas City Chiefs Arrowhead Stadium 1:00 p.m. * FOX
Sun. Dec. 9 vs. Atlanta Falcons Bank of America Stadium 1:00 p.m. * FOX
Sun. Dec. 16 at San Diego Chargers Qualcomm Stadium 4:05 p.m. * FOX
Sun. Dec. 23 vs. Oakland Raiders Bank of America Stadium 1:00 p.m. * CBS
Sun. Dec. 30 at New Orleans Saints Mercedes-Benz Superdome 1:00 p.m. * FOX