Carolina PanthersRead the introduction here
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2011 Record: 6-10
Key Acquisitions: Bruce Campbell, Luke Kuechly, Reggie Smith, Mike Tolbert
Key Departures: Dan Connor, Geoff Schwartz, Jeremy Shockey, Travelle Wharton
Cam Newton's rookie season was just ridiculous. Possibly the greatest season for a rookie quarterback ever. The offense ranked 7th in the league last year, but that side of the ball isn't the main issue. The defense ranked 28th and the addition of Luke Kuechly only helps. It will be tough to navigate this division, but with a few improvements over the next couple of years, the Panthers could shoot themselves into the top level in the stacked NFC, because the quarterback can definitely take them there.
Cameron Newton's running ability is amazing. On top of that, he has one of the strongest arms in the league. His only issue is that his accuracy can be shoddy at times, and he needs to see the field a little bit better. I'm chalking that up to being a rookie, because that is always the problem with rookie QBs. He'll one of the best in the NFL soon because not only is be a great runner, he's so hard to tackle out in the open field. He's a big boy.
I like the combo that they have going with DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart. They complement each other very nicely, and both are good runners. These two with the running threat of Newton will create a very good rushing attack.
Steve Smith has really good chemistry with Cam Newton, and he is a legit #1 receiver in the NFL. There are a lot of decent guys on this team but no second option. Deep group but I don't see great playmakers.
Greg Olsen and Ben Hartsock are good tight ends. Olsen is the actual threat of the two, but Hartsock has his moments. He's a big guy who can catch the ball in the red zone.
Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil are two of the best offensive lineman in the league. Bruce Campbell is the only other guy that I like on this line. The explosiveness of the backfield can get around the weak spots, but if those are figured out, then this team's dangerous running game just got better.
Charles Johnson is a threat off the edge of the line. He has a knack for getting after the quarterback. That's what happens when you are trained by Julius Peppers. Antwan Applewhite is decent on the other side, but I'm not liking much else on this line, but I love the linebackers however. James Anderson and Jon Beason are established veterans in the NFL. Luke Kuechly is going to be very, very good. Very, very good. I love him. He's a leader defensively, a really smart player, and he can make tackles. He knows how to drag a guy down.
Chris Gamble is probably in the second tier of corners in the league. He's really good at covering, and when he doesn't make the play, his teammates are in position to get a pick. Darius Butler and Charles Godfrey are both decent in the defensive backfield. Not the biggest fan of Captain Munnerlyn.
Olindo Mare still has one of the best names in the NFL. As a kicker, he tends to be streaky. Nick Harris has been in the league for a while now, and he's been able to stick around. I've still yet to figure out who is going to return kicks on this team.
7-9, T-2nd in NFC South