Carolina Panthers Season Preview

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Ray Burton
Ray writes mostly in-depth analytical pieces covering a range of sports from a more statistical perspective drawing his inspiration from the fanalytics movement. Ray is a fan of all sports, but mostly the NFL (Dolphins), Premier League (Man Utd), MLB (Mariners), NHL (Ducks), NBA (Heat) and NRL (Warriors) and motorsports. Usually to be found in front of the TV or in a stadium somewhere cheering on one of his teams. Never short of an opinion Ray is always ready to talk sports and is a co-founder of Lazy Fan Sports.

The Carolina Panthers entered 2018 with renewed optimism after a rebound in 2017, however, it was to prove a false dawn as they returned to losing ways.

With all the hype surrounding the second season with Christian McCaffrey in the backfield, and having figured out how to use him, the Panthers looked set to be one of the highest-powered offenses in the NFL.

There were questions going into the season about Cam Newton’s knee, and it was something that would end up dragging on through the season.

Things got off to a great start as the Carolina Panthers would win three of their first four games, all at home. The opening weekend win over the Cowboys seemed in particular to promise a good season.

Defeat in Washington in week 6 asked a lot of questions about the Panthers because the Redskins were really not that good, and it was an early warning sign of things to come. In the short term, they covered the cracks and bounced back with wins over the Eagles, Ravens, and Buccs.

From 6-2 the wheels totally came off the Panthers season as they lost their next 7 games in a row. Scoring more than 20 points just twice in that span.

The Carolina Panthers ended the season at 7-9, with just two road wins all season, and one of those was against the Saints in week 17 as they rested players ahead of the playoffs. It was a season that highlighted their reliance on Cam Newton.

Newton posted the second-lowest rush yards of his career and his lowest rushing touchdowns. He didn’t seem completely mobile early in the season and seemed reluctant to run at times. In the end, his season was cut short by surgery to his throwing shoulder.

Having previously undergone surgery on the same shoulder at the end of 2016 it is the biggest issue going forward for the Panthers. They partially addressed this in the draft, picking up Will Grier, but it seems likely there will be another lost season for the Carolina Panthers if Cam suffers another injury. 

Finishing the season ranked 10th on offense by yards, the Panthers surprisingly struggled to turn that into points, finishing down in 15th. Defensively their weaknesses were exposed as they had to spend longer on the field, finishing 15th for yards, and 19th for points.

Off-Season Acquisitions

Gerald McCoy – DE

McCoy was the biggest acquisition this offseason for the Carolina Panthers. Ranked as the 28th best interior defensive lineman by PFF, it wasn’t McCoy’s best season in the NFL. He is clearly on the downswing of his career, by McCoy is a solid addition who will give guaranteed production.

Chris Hogan – WR

Finally finding his way out of the AFC East after spells with the Dolphins, Bills, and Patriots, Hogan will add some slot depth to the Panthers lineup. He’s not going to light up defenses, but Hogan will consistently get open and give Cam Newton a decent option down the field.

Matt Paradis – C

Bruce Irvin – LB

Tre Boston – FS

Aldrick Robinson – WR

Javien Elliott – CB

NFL Draft

RoundPickPlayerPositionCollege
116Brian Burns LBFlorida State
237Greg Little TOle Miss
3100Will Grier QBWest Virginia
4115Christian Miller LBAlabama
5154Jordan Scarlett RBFlorida
6212Dennis Daley TSouth Carolina
7237Terry Godwin WRGeorgia

Undrafted Free Agents

PlayerPositionCollege
Elijah HolyfieldRBGeorgia
Corrion BallardDBUtah
Jordan KunaszykLBCal
Damion Jeanpiere JrWRNicholls

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