Carolina Panthers News: Regular Season and Preseason Updates
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3/25/15: The Carolina Panthers let star defensive lineman Greg Hardy go a few weeks ago, not because of lack of talent but because of his off field issues that got him arrested for some pretty serious crimes. The team may have not have wanted to give him up, but probably had little choice considering the severity of the crimes and potential public relations fallout. They may have been worried that the rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted him, and would haunt them twice a year. In the end, Hardy signed with Dallas on a one year deal, so now he is the Cowboys' problem. And out of the NFC South.
3/18/15: The Carolina Panthers took a lot of criticism last offseason concerning their wide receiving corps. They allowed everyone they had with any experience to walk without bringing in any veterans with any accomplishments of note. They did strike gold with Kelvin Benjamin in the first round of the draft, but that was about it. The Panthers seem like they want to improve the wide receiving corps, sort of. The team signed Ted Ginn. Ginn is fast, but not a number one or two receiver. Perhaps the Panthers will draft another WR in May, and at least there are a few good ones out there.
3/11/15: A big part of the Carolina Panthers' offseason checklist includes upgrading the offensive line to protect QB Cam Newton. Byron Bell was the starting left tackle last season, and he may be better off as a crossing guard with the traffic he allowed through. So the Panthers, as expected, signed Michael Oher of "The Blind Side" fame. Oher, himself, had a forgettable year with the Titans in 2014, but he is still an upgrade. Oher is also reunited with his former O-line coach, John Matsko, and Oher played well while under his tutelage. The deal is for two years, but do not be surprised if the Panthers add depth in the draft.
3/4/15: The NFL continues to struggle with disciplining a few of their stars, such as the Carolina Panthers' defensive end Greg Hardy. The league lost their hearing on Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, meaning he is reinstated, though the NFL is appealing. As for Hardy, he is still on the Commissioner's Exempt List - meaning he is suspended with pay. The league says that he cannot be reinstated because he has not been disciplined yet. Many would argue that missing games is a discipline, but the NFL seems to view that differently. In other words, this is probably a long way from being over. It probably will not matter the Panthers as they seem content to let him walk.
2/25/15: Cam Newton has been leading the Carolina Panthers offense for the past four seasons and has certainly developed into a franchise QB. He is heading into the fifth and final season of his rookie contract and it is highly unlikely that the team would let him walk after the season finishes. That means either franchise tag or, more likely, an extension. Yet Newton is 'content' to let Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck redo their deals first. That would essentially 'reset' the market value, such as a fully guaranteed deal or other new wrinkles to the QB contract arena.
2/18/15: The Carolina Panthers defense was not nearly as strong last season as it was in 2013. A big part of that was not having defensive lineman Greg Hardy on the field, as he was suspended for domestic violence chargers. Legally, Hardy is in the clear now. His charges were dropped after the victim was not available for the prosecution. The league may be a different matter. He remains suspended and his status has not changed. It remains to be seen if the Panthers will keep him on the roster or release him when he is reinstated by the league.
2/11/15: The Carolina Panthers may have made the playoffs again this past season, but that was largely a byproduct of the sad state of the NFC South. Simply put, there is room for improvement. Some of that will come from a healthy Cam Newton. Some more, possibly, from adding wide receivers that people have heard of. And some from upgrading the offensive line. Left tackle Michael Oher is available after being cut by the Tennessee Titans. Oher had a terrible season in 2014, playing only 11 games before going on the injured reserved. He did not play well even when on the field. He is a possibility, because he was pretty good for Baltimore for five years.
2/5/15: The New England Patriots' Deflategate scandal spread like wildfire since the AFC Championship Game with almost everyone having an opinion. In an unscientific review, it seems that most (outside of Patriots Nation) believe the Patriots tampered with the football in that instance and have bent the rules in the past. That includes former Panther GM Mary Hurney who described the Patriots methods as "a culture of cheating". New England beat the Panthers in the 2004 Super Bowl, but considering other illegal incidents involving the Pats over the past 15 years, that win is certainly open to scrutiny.
1/28/15: It would be hard to consider Cam Newton one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL, but he is certainly one of the better ones and done a pretty good job with the Carolina Panthers over the past few years. The team would like to keep it that way by the sounds of GM Dave Gettleman. Newton is entering the option year (fifth year) of his rookie contract, so he will be in teal and silver for another 12 months. But if the Panthers really want to keep him, they may want to look at getting an extension finished so that Newton never hits the open market or force the team to use a franchise tag on him.
1/21/15: The wide receiving corps of the Carolina Panthers did not inspire much hope last season, though rookie Kelvin Benjamin was much better than expected. In any case, it was not much to look at (or throw to), and this does not seem to help much either. The Panthers signed former Jacksonville Jaguar wide receiver Mike Brown last week to a futures contract. Brown had 446 yards and two touchdowns on 32 receptions in 2013, but did not do anything last season and was cut. He joins Jets castoff Stephen HIll as the latest reclamation projects by the Panthers.
1/14/15: Cam Ward has been synonymous with the Carolina Hurricanes for several years now, so it seems odd that he may play somewhere else. However, the Hurricanes are not making the playoffs this season and have some rebuilding to do aside from the numerous injuries that they have suffered through. In any case, the Minnesota Wild have a playoff caliber roster with minor league goaltending. There have been rumors that the Wild may trade for Ward, which could benefit the Hurricanes more than the Wild. Ward is not the same goalie he was five years ago and the team could use more prospects and draft picks.
1/7/15: The Carolina Panthers, the winners of the NFC South with a lowly 7-9 record, are moving on to the Divisional Round of the playoffs after beating the visiting Arizona Cardinals in the Wild Card Round by a score of 27-16. While many decry to fact that a team with a losing record is in the playoffs, the fact is that this is the second time such a team has won their playoff game. The Panthers trailed 14-13 at the half but scored a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game away. Carolina's next game is on the road, against Seattle on Saturday.
12/3/14: For some unknown reason, the Panthers have become allergic to winning over the past month and a half. The latest letdown, in a division that should be very winnable, was a 31-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. While the Panthers were able to put up 178 yards rushing on the Vikings, they only added another 194 in the air. The defense played reasonably well, allowing only 138 passing yards and 92 rushing yards, but special teams did them in as the Viking blocked two punts which they returned for touchdowns. The Panthers are now 3-8-1 and likely out of the playoff race, but do head to New Orleans this Sunday.
11/19/14: Carolina should have as good of a chance as anyone to win the NFC South, but they cannot seem to get out of their own way. They showed some toughness last Sunday at home against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons had held the Panthers offense in check and owned a comfortable 16-3 lead in the fourth quarter. QB Cam Newton led the team to two quick touchdowns to take a late 17-16 lead, but the Falcons kicked a winning field goal to steal the game. The loss dropped the Panthers to 3-7-1 on the season, but not out of the NFC South race. Carolina is on a bye this weekend.
11/12/14: The Panthers faced the host Philadelphia Eagles last Monday but simply did not look like the team that won the NFC South and finished with the second best record in the NFC last season. The Mark Sanchez led Eagles scored early and often, building up a 45-7 before the Panthers scored two late garbage time touchdowns. Cam Newton threw for a lot of yards and two touchdowns, but his three interceptions derailed his night. He will need to protect the ball better for Carolina to improve. Amazingly, at 3-6-1, they still have a chance at winning the NFC South. New Orleans leads the division, but they are only 4-5. The Panthers have a great chance for a win on Sunday when they host the lowly Atlanta Falcons.
11/5/14: The Panthers hosted the New Orleans Saints last Thursday with the winner gaining the inside track to the NFC South. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the ball just did not seem to bounce their way that night. The offense was limited to only 260 total yards, a pair of turnovers and surrendured four sacks. The defense, which was the strength of the teamn season ago, gave up over 400 yards to the Saints in the 28-10 loss. Carolina fell to 3-5-1 on the season and now must prepare to play at Philadelphia in the Monday Night Game.
10/29/14: While this is not the same Carolina Panthers defense from a year ago, they can still play some pretty good football. The Panthers hosted reigning Super Bowl Champion Seattle last Sunday and did a pretty solid job of keeping them off the scoreboard most of the day. Seattle had only managed two field goals through 59 minutes, but Seahawks scored a touchdown with 47 seconds remaining to steal a 13-9. ON the other side, the Panthers' offense was lacking most of the day, and a team needs to score points to win games. Carolina remains on top of the NFC South wit a 3-4-1 record and hosts the 3-4 New Orleans Saints on the Thursday Night Game.
10/22/14: The NFC South simply is not as strong as everyone expected it to be this season. The Carolina Panthers are proof. After getting blown out of Green Bay 38-17, they are still in first place with a 3-3-1 record. This game was over early with the Packers putting up four touchdowns in the first half and taking a 28-3 lead into half time. The offense had a hard time getting going and the defense certainly did not help things by giving up so many points early. It may not get any easier this Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks (3-3 and angry) come to town for an early afternoon game.
10/8/14: The Panthers remain an enigma. They were blown out by the Ravens in Week 4, barely offering any offense. Then they host Chicago and manage to rally from a 14 point deficit to pull out a 31-24 win. While this is certainly not the defense from last season that earned the second place in the NFC regular season, they did manage to hold the Bears to only three points in the second half. One has the feeling that it is going to be an up and down season in Carolina, but they may be just good enough to win the NFC South. The Panthers are now 3-2 but will have a tough test against at Cincinnati this Sunday.
10/15/14: Who could have guessed that the Panthers game against the host Cincinnati Bengals would be so compelling? Both are good teams, but have flaws. The Bengals were also coming off of being exposed by the New England Patriots. This was a back and forth affair where the teams exchanged blows for four quarters, and then a fifth. Carolina hit a field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime where the teams exchanged field goals - ending the first tie of the season: 37-37. The tie put the Panthers record at 3-2-1 on the season and in first place in the NFC South. Carolina heads to the 4-2 Green Bay Packers this Sunday.
10/1/14: Carolina surprised a few people with how well their offense has run this season with a new set of receivers and with QB Cam Newton still hindered by his sore ankle. But things came back down to earth when visiting Baltimore and former Panthers' star wide receiver Steve Smith. Carolina's defense simply could not contain Smith, who had vengeance on his mind. He caught seven passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns - making some fantasy owners very happy, though not the those who once cheered him in Carolina. The Panthers are now 2-2 on the season and return home on Sunday to host the 2-2 Chicago Bears.
9/24/14: Carolina is a tough team to figure out. They looked great in their first two games and even tempted the experts to doubt themselves about the receiving corps. But then they hosted Pittsburgh in one of the more physical games of the week and lost 37-19. QB Cam Newton threw for 250 yards and backup Derek Anderson added another 80, so the passing game was not the issue. Unfortunately, the Panthers have suffered a lot of injuries to their running backs and could only manage 42 yards on the ground. The loss leaves the Panthers at 2-1 on the season. They head to Baltimore to face Steve Smith and the Ravens on Sunday.
9/17/14: Maybe the Panthers are better than everyone expected them to be. Despite losing all of their wide receivers in the offseason, Cam Newton (making his first start of the season) threw for 281 yards and a touchdown in the 24-7 win. The Panthers deactivated defensive lineman Greg Hardy before the game, but were still able to keep the Lions to only 70 yards rushing on the day. The Panthers now have the early lead in the NFC South, and look even better with the Saints at 0-2. Carolina gets a primetime game Sunday when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.
8/28/14: Panthers QB Cam Newton is expected to shoulder more of the load this season as he is easily the best player on a talent and experience poor unit. It does not help that he is still not 100 percent recovered from offseason ankle surgery. He had a tough night last Friday in the traditional dress rehearsal third preseason game. He struggled against an underrated Patriots defense and is still showing rust from lack of practice and reps. Therefore, the team is expected to play him in their final preseason game this week, if, for no other reason, than he simply needs more work.
8/21/14: It took a couple of series, but Panthers' QB Cam Newton shook off the rust and showed why he is one of the better QBs in the NFL. Granted it was preseason, but Newton showed his worth in the team's second preseason game. He only gained one yard on his first three series, but then led the offense to two touchdowns. Even better, Newton seems to have learned to trust his surgically repaired ankle. The Panthers do not have a whole lot of offensive weapons this season, but if Newton can run, then they can keep opposing defenses off balance and make it a fair fight.
8/14/14: This will be a transition year for the Panthers as they break in a new wide receiving corps. First round pick Kelvin Benjamin is doing well, but he is a rookie and cannot be expected to do too much. So that means that more responsibility is getting shifted to starting QB Cam Newton. By all accounts, Newton is doing a great job in the leadership role. There is just one big issue: his ankle is not fully healed yet. He sat out the preseason opener as a precaution. Newton's ability to improvise and run is important, so the Panthers need that ankle to finally heal up.
8/7/14: The Panthers have been the subject of a lot media writings about not being able to repeat the success they had last season. The team is breaking in an entire new wide receiving corps and did improved by five wins last season, so there is cause for speculation. But the bigger issue is that several key players are missing time in training camp with injuries. That includes defensive ends Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson as among 14 players who missed practice last Sunday. Of course, it is still training camp and it is better to give veterans a day off or two rather than wear them down before the season starts.
7/31/14: Expectations in Carolina grew exponentially last season with their surprisingly strong season and NFC South Championship. The defense was a key factor to their remarkable run, but so was QB Cam Newton. But Cam cannot do everything alone and he is tempering expectations the best he can. He had ankle surgery in March and is "not 100 percent". He is being limited in training camp and undergoing treatment to improve the healing. But while he is being held back somewhat, he is still working with the team and making some throws while he works himself back into shape.
7/24/14: As promised, Panthers QB Cam Newton is taking more of a leadership role this season and got several members of the offense together for some individual workouts. Included in the caravan to a training complex in Greensboro, NC were Newton, two backup QBs, nine receivers and a tight end. The Panthers receiving unit is considered raw with so many new faces and it did not help that Newton missed spring practice time due to ankle injury. These private workouts may not make all the difference in the world, but certainly should help going into training camp.
7/17/14: The Panthers have faced a lot of scrutiny over the past few months on their receiving corps situation. There is not one player who caught a pass for the team on the roster right now. As it stands, the wide receivers are rookie Kelvin Benjiman, Taiquan Underwood, Jerricho Cotchery, and Jason Avant. But they say that they, with QBs Cam Newton and Derek Anderson, get together for a week's worth of workouts in Charlotte. They players seem to know they are under a microscope due to the front office, but also insist they are only concerned about making plays and developing as a unit.
7/10/14: This time of year, during the NFL offseason and that special time between Organized Team Activities (OTA's) and training camp, two things are common: players getting arrested and players training with players from other teams. Panthers' QB Cam Newton has not gotten arrested but he is throwing with Packers wide receiver Randal Cobb and Ravens WR Torrey Smith. That is along with his new top receiver in rookie Kelvin Benjamin. Considering the lack of depth and experience at receiver on the Panthers, Newton must be loving throwing to some of the elite receivers in the league.
7/3/14: This should be the season that we really get to see how good QB Cam Newton is. He has three full years in the league and has been pretty successful so far. In fact, he has ranked in the top five in scoring (in fantasy football) each year. But his safety valve of Steve Smith is gone and he does not have any receivers that have worthwhile experience on the roster. That will put more pressure on Newton to lead the team to victory. It is a good thing that the Panthers have a quality defense that can keep the team in games, but now Cam has to go out and win those close games on his own.
6/26/14: The Panthers' GM, Dave Gettleman, is digging away at sports clichés, claiming they have 'unfinished business'. Of course, every team not named the Seattle Seahawks could say the exact same thing. He also says that he 'likes the attitude' of the team since 'they walked in the door' and that 'we're all starting at 0-0' and finally that he 'feels good about where we are at right now'. Perhaps his original thoughts extend only to decimating the receiving corps or to running the best and most popular player in the history of the franchise out of town.
6/19/14: The mass exodus of wide receivers out of Carolina has been well documented and is acknowledged as a real concern for the Panthers this coming season. Drafting Kelvin Benjamin in the first round is a nice start to rebuilding the receiving corps, but there needs to be more depth and talent. The Panthers could take a look at free agent Santonio Holmes. Excluding the last two seasons with the Jets, he has always been a solid wide receiver and understands that, at this point in his career, he will not be a number one. He could be a nice addition to the Panthers, even if it is only for a year or two.
6/12/14: From the files of obvious things to say comes the gem from former Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith. Smith said last week that he had expected that he would retire as a Carolina Panther. That is always a possibility, as many players in many sports sign one day contracts to retire with their longtime teams. But the inference here is that Smith expected to always be a Panther. Considering the lack of receiving talent on the Panthers roster, one really has to wonder why the team was so adamant about not retaining Smith and letting him walk unabated down the road to the Baltimore Ravens.
6/6/14: Steve Smith is a legend in Carolina. He is the best player the team has ever had and was very popular with the fans. He is also in Baltimore now, so time to turn the page. One thing Smith never had was a buddy-buddy relationship with QB Cam Newton. New wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is developing that relationship as the two are hanging out together outside of practice. That kind of rapport is always good to have. Of course, Newton went to the University of Florida for a while and won a national championship with Auburn. Benjamin went to FSU, which is arch rivals with Florida and beat Auburn for the national championship in January.
5/29/14: Panthers' GM Dave Gettleman has been under fire since just about after the Super Bowl ended because his receiving corps has been so depleted. One of the ways to rectify that was selecting huge wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the first round. Gettleman says that he reminds him of a young Plaxico Burress (pre-gun incident, one assumes). The GM has nothing but praise for his darling pick, and with good reason. Benjamin is a big target that should be able to produce in the red zone. He is also faster than he appears, and he showed that in college while playing for Jimbo Fisher at Florida State.
5/22/14: A few months ago, the Carolina Panthers agreed to a big contract with Greg Hardy. They may be regretting that move now as Hardy is in legal trouble for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. The woman in question says that Hardy was upset with her relationship with rapper Nelly. Hardy's account is different and says that he called the police when she attacked him. It is up to the courts to decide what happened, but for now, Hardy has legal issues and the Panthers may have to look for a replacement for one of the better defensive linemen in the game.
5/15/14: Everyone knows that the Panthers either exiled their wide receivers, or allowed them to leave on their own accord. In any case, the Panthers are the neediest team in terms of guys that can catch the ball. They started to solve that problem in the first round of the NFL draft by selecting wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State in the first round. Kelvin is a huge target and caught the winning pass in the National Championship Game in January. The Panthers need more help, but this is an excellent start to rebuilding the receiving game.
5/8/14: The NFL gave the Panthers a little something extra to think about heading into the draft. The league announced last week that defensive lineman Frank Alexander would be suspended for four games to start the 2014 season for use of performance enhancing drugs. He is generally the first backup into a game, subbing for Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson. With his suspension, it looks like Mario Addison will be the first backup. That may lead the Panthers to think about another defensive lineman in the draft, for depth and insurance against future issues, if nothing else.
5/1/14: When you take a quarterback with the first overall pick in a draft, you expect him to be your franchise quarterback. That did not work out for the Raiders with JaMarcus Russell, and it remains to be seen if Sam Bradford is the answer for the Rams. The Panthers, however, like what they got a few years ago in Cam Newton. The team, with little fanfare or surprise, locked up Newton for the 2015 season by picking up his option year. While there is always the risk of injury, by taking Newton's option now, they have another year to work out a long-term contract that will keep Cam in North Carolina throughout most, if not all, of his career.
4/24/14: About a month ago, Panthers' starting QB Cam Newton made news when he announced that he had ankle surgery. The story, so it goes, is that it was a minor procedure to clear up some irritants that had bothered Newton for several years. It is now time for OTA's but Newton is still in a walking boot. Newton is playing in the same system with the same coaches this coming season, so it is not like he has to learn a new offensive scheme. That being said, the Panthers made a wholesale change at wide receiver and Newton probably needs as much time as he can with them to get on the same page.
4/17/14: Panthers' running back DeAngelo Williams claims he was shocked that the team let every wide receiver who had actually caught a ball in an NFL game go this offseason. Steve Smith was obviously the big name of the group, but Brandon LaFell has a nice niche as well. There has been a lot of ink spent on the issue, and the Panthers are headed towards the draft with some journeymen and inexperienced players manning the slot and wides. That would seem to suggest that Carolina is in dire need of some receiving help and that may come in the draft.
4/10/14: Former Eagles great QB Donovan McNabb compared Cam Newton to himself last week. Only he was not talking about being a top quarterback or winning playoff games. He was referring the situation McNabb had in Philadelphia for his first several seasons. McNabb did not have any top flight receivers to throw to until Terrell Owens came to town. He sees the same thing happening to Newton in Carolina where the team has let virtually all of their receiving corps go and has only brought in one average receiver. That can be a death-knell for a QB, and McNabb does not want it to happen to Newton.
3/27/14: The Panthers are getting crushed in the media for essentially leaving their roster bare at wide receiver. They cut their all time leading receiver (and best player ever) Steve Smith and let Brandon LaFell walk as well. LaFell got into a little bit of a public relations mess when he said he was looking forward to being with the Patriots and catching passes from a hall of famer. Some took that as a slight to Panthers' QB Cam Newton, though, to be fair, LaFell said that Newton was not there yet. It really was not a slight, but simply a fact that Tom Brady is, right now, the better QB between the two and Newton can develop into greatness.
3/20/14: The3/27/14: The Panthers are getting crushed in the media for essentially leaving their roster bare at wide receiver. They cut their all time leading receiver (and best player ever) Steve Smith and let Brandon LaFell walk as well. LaFell got into a little bit of a public relations mess when he said he was looking forward to being with the Patriots and catching passes from a hall of famer. Some took that as a slight to Panthers' QB Cam Newton, though, to be fair, LaFell said that Newton was not there yet. It really was not a slight, but simply a fact that Tom Brady is, right now, the better QB between the two and Newton can develop into greatness. Panthers are being roundly criticized for releasing long-time star WR Steve Smith last week and letting fellow WR Ted McGinn get away as well. Smith is probably the best player in Panthers history and spent his entire 13 year career there. Now he is in Baltimore and wants revenge on his former team. Those moves leave the Panthers with a grand total of two WR on the roster who have totaled exactly zero NFL passes. Carolina may still re-sign Brandon LaFell, but he is really a third or fourth receiver. It is not unrealistic to think Carolina may try to move up in the draft to get a star WR like Sammy Watkins or Maquis Lee.
3/13/14: Carolina decided that they would not let defensive end Greg Hardy go anywhere by placing the franchise tag on him. Now the two sides need to hammer out a long term deal to keep Hardy with the Panthers and terrorizing NFC South quarterbacks. Teams often do not like placing the franchise tag on players because it means an expensive one year deal. Players do not like it because it restricts what they can do. In this case, both sides are on board and it seems that both want to work out a deal - which is the way the franchise tag works best.
3/6/14: The Panthers are using their franchise tag on defensive end Greg Hardy. Hardy would be a free agent otherwise, and be available to sign with any team if he did not get the tag. This will entitle Hardy to a one-year deal for approximately $12 million if (or when) he accepts. The Panthers can rescind the tender at any time or trade him. There is also a good chance that the team works out a long term deal with Hardy, as he is not a player they would want to lose anytime in the foreseeable future.
2/27/14: The Panthers are in an interesting position with long-time receiver Steve Smith. Smith is one of the few players that has earned the right to retire on his own terms, and those terms seem to be with the Carolina Panthers. Smith (now Smith Sr., according to his jersey) is certainly not the playmaker he was earlier in his career. He carries a hefty price tag, which can keep the team from signing other players. The Panthers could always release him, though that may go over like a ton of bricks with the fans. It will be interesting to see what the team does with Smith over the next few months and how that affects the roster overall.
2/20/14: Fans tend to get uneasy when their star franchise QB gets near the end of his contract and can start thinking about holding out for more money. That creates some problems because it takes money away from other positions and can put the player behind in his training. Well, the Panthers fans apparently do not have to worry about that. Cam Newton said on national radio that he was not thinking about holding out for more money. He said that as QB and leader of the team, he cannot take a selfish approach. That is good news for the team and the fans, and a very mature attitude for the young man.
2/13/14: Panthers' star wide receiver Steve Smith has been in the league since 1928. Okay, not really. But he has been with the team for a long time and is certainly in the twilight years of his great career. The Panthers have never really been able to find a complement to him, though they have tried several times. Basically, the Panthers need some additional help at WR and there are several good options in this draft. Guys like Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State) and Marquis Lee (USC) are possibilities, and could help open the offense for QB Cam Newton.
2/6/14: This should not come as any surprise to NFL fans, but Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was named the NFL's Coach of the Year. Sure, there are two other coaches in competing for the Super Bowl, and Andy Reid had orchestrated a remarkable turnaround in Kansas City - that being said, Rivera deserves this award this year. He saw his team at 1-3 (and about to collapse), and completely flipped the script. He got aggressive and his team got better. The Panthers ended up at 12-4 in the regular season, good for second in the NFC. Congrats to Coach Rivera.
1/30/14: Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has to be on the short list for any coach of the year award. Rivera has been conspicuously conservative in his time as head coach of the Panthers, and those were not good seasons. The team started off 1-3 this season, then Rivera, astutely, switched modes. He turned into "Riverboat Ron" and got more aggressive. That paid off. Carolina finished 12-4 and won the NFC South division, before getting knocked out of the playoffs by the 49ers. That loss will serve them well, long-term, as the team will use it for motivation for bigger achievements in the future.
1/23/14: Carolina picked first over all in the draft a few years ago when they selected QB Cam Newton to bring back the franchise. The Panthers have improved significantly since then and now will pick in the late 20's. They find themselves in a pretty interesting position. The NFC South has some pretty good teams. Carolina and New Orleans were both in the playoffs. Atlanta is a great team that got hit by injuries. And Tampa is an up and coming program. It is actually reminiscent of the NFC West. The Panthers can succeed in this division, but they will need to improve their offense in short order.
1/16/14: Give all due credit to the Panthers. They were 1-3 at the end of September. Head coach Ron Rivera looked to be out the door, and they seemed to have no identity. The Panthers flipped the narrative. They got aggressive on play calling. Their defense stepped up. And, they locked down the number two seed in the NFC by beating several elite teams. Losing to the 49ers in the Divisional round stings. The season is over and the team will have to regroup. But the Panthers have shown they can play with anyone, and do not be surprised if they find themselves back on top next season.
1/9/14: Carolina is ready to play this weekend, and they finally have their opponent. The Panthers will host the 49ers in the Divisional Round, as San Francisco eliminated the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card Round last Sunday. The Panthers earned the number two seed in the NFC, but some critics are still not sold and insist that the team peaked a month ago. They must not have been watching how the team has steadily improved in all facets of the game, and is particularly tough at home. More likely, they probably want to see a Seattle vs. San Francisco game more than anything else.
1/2/14: Carolina is sneaky. After starting the season 1-3 (and hearing the fans call for head coach Ron Rivera's job), the team turned it around and finished the season 12-4. Dating back to last season, the team has won 16 of their last 20 games and now owns the NFC South crown and a first round bye. Many people point to Rivera's change of heart to start taking more risks - and that has paid off in the standings and in his new nickname Riverboat Ron. At the same time, the Panthers' defense has been outstanding and should serve them well throughout the playoffs.
12/26/13: A few weeks ago, the Saints embarrassed the Panthers in New Orleans and took control of the NFC South. Then the Panthers got it back together and won while the Saints were dominated in St. Louis - exposing their fatal flaw: playing on the road. Carolina hosted New Orleans last Sunday and proved that they are the real team in the division by edging out the Saints 17-13. The Panthers' defense was again amazing, but the real takeaway here was the clutch TD that Cam Newton threw with 23 seconds left in the game. Carolina is in the playoffs now. They face Tampa in the regular season finale on Sunday.
12/19/13: Carolina's dominant defense returned to form against the Jets, just a week after being neutered by the New Orleans Saints. Captain Munnerlyn had two sacks and returned an interception for a touchdown in the win. Cam Newton threw for 273 yards and a score, while Greg Olson had 88 yards receiving. Carolina won 30-20, and combined with the New Orleans loss, moved back into a tie for first place. That is timely, as the Panthers (10-4) host the Saints (10-4) this Sunday in a game which may decide who wins the division and who gets a wild card spot.
12/12/13: All good things must end, and that was the case last Sunday for the Panthers. Carolina clawed their way into a tie for the NFC South over the past two months by winning eight consecutive games. Their defense has been among the best in the league and QB Cam Newton seems to have rediscovered his footing. But the Saints put all that to an end by downing the Panthers 37-13. Carolina could not stop the Saints in the second quarter at Drew Brees and company posted 21 points. The Panthers have a shot at redemption, though. After hosting the Jets this Sunday, they get New Orleans at home in Week 16.
11/28/13: The Panthers continued their winning ways by putting away the Miami Dolphins 20-16 last Sunday. QB Cam Newton did not have a great day, but saved some heroics for the end of the game. He converted a 4th and 10 from his own 20 yard line then later on in the drive threw for the winning touchdown with only 43 seconds remaining. This was the seventh consecutive win for the Panthers, their longest streak since the 2003 season. Carolina still trails the Saints for the division, but is currently in the first wild card position. The Panthers host the 3-7 Buccaneers this Sunday.
11/21/13: Carolina is for real. The team won their sixth straight game and improved to 7-3 on the season by defeating the New England Patriots 24-20 in the Monday Night Game. This game will be remembered for the final play where Pats' QB Tom Brady underthrew a pass in the end zone to tight end Rob Gronkowski. The ball was intercepted but many hold that Panthers' linebacker Luke Kuekley interfered with Gronk. The refs ruled the ball uncatchable and the game ended. Lost in the controversy was the continued outstanding play of the Panthers. Carolina now holds the first wild card spot and now head to Miami.
11/14/13: Carolina upset the San Francisco 49ers on the road following the same formula they have used to build up a five game winning streak - dominating defense and opportunistic scoring. The Panthers have become this season's mid-season surprise team and have a legitimate shot to win the division or be a wild card team. Carolina limited Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers to about 150 yards of offense resulting in only three field goals in a 10-9 victory. We will get to see how good the defense is starting this weekend as the Panthers return home to host the Patriots (7-2) on Monday night.
11/7/13: The Panthers gained a game in the standings by beating the Atlanta Falcons 34-10 while the Saints were upset by the New York Jets. QB Cam Newton had himself a pretty good game with 249 yards passing and a touchdown. Running back James Stewart got back into the line up with a team leading 43 yards rushing, while DeAngelo Williams added 42. But the real story was the Carolina defense. They picked off Matt Ryan three times and returned one for a score. The Panthers (5-3) are riding a nice winning streak as they travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers (6-2) this Sunday.
10/31/13: While the present and future looks bleak in Tampa, it is nothing but good vibes and sunshine for Carolina. The Panthers went to Tampa for the weekly Thursday Night Game and came out with a dominating 31-13 win. QB Cam Newton threw for only 221 yards, but also threw 2 TD passes and ran for another in the blowout. Carolina has won their last three games, including two this week. The defense looks especially stout and does not miss Jon Beasley at all. The win put the Panthers at 4-3 on the season - the first time they have been above 500 in five years.
10/24/13: Carolina evened up their record at 3-3 with a 30-15 win over the visiting St. Louis Rams last Sunday. QB Cam Newton was sufficient with 200 yards passing, one TD and no picks. Steve Smith caught a TD pass for the second game in a row and led all receivers with 69 yards. But the story here was the dominating Carolina defense who sacked Sam Bradford four times and forced three turnovers. Rams DE Chris Long was ejected from the game for throwing a punch as the teams had a couple of scrums. The Panthers have to work off of a short week as they travel to Tampa to face the winless Buccaneers in the Thursday Night Game.
10/17/13: Carolina headed to Minnesota with something to prove, and they came out in sole possession of second place in the NFC South. Cam Newton looked like Cam Newton, and not the jumbled mess that has been around too much the past couple of years. He was 20-26 for 242 yards passing, three touchdown passes, and another touchdown on the ground. Carolina's two wins have been blowouts, but they have lost some ugly games as well. The Panthers (2-3) return home this Sunday to host the St. Louis Rams (3-3) who are coming off of an impressive rout of the Texans in Houston.
10/10/13: Carolina's shutout win over the New York Giants a few weeks ago is looking less and less impressive. The Giants have gotten worse, if anything, and the Panthers could not muster any offense against the Arizona Cardinals despite having a bye week to gameplan and practice. The Cardinals won 22-6 and completely flustered Cam Newton. Newton was sacked seven times on the day and the only Panthers' scoring came on a pair of field goals. The loss put Carolina at 1-3 on the season and well behind the division leading Saints. The Panthers head to Minnesota to face the 1-4 Vikings in Week 6.
10/3/13: The Panthers had their bye in Week 4 and were able to watch division rivals Tampa and Atlanta falter. Carolina is at 1-2 on the season and currently in second place in the NFC South. The team struggled in Week 3 and star receiver Steve Smith suffered an injury. It is hoped that he will be back soon. The Panthers have a west coast trip coming up. They face the Arizona Cardinals (2-2) at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 5. A win would put the Panthers back to 500 on the season. It will not be easy though, Arizona has Larry Fitzgerald and one of the best defenses in the entire league.
9/26/13: The Carolina Panthers got a big win last Sunday by dismantling the New York Giants 38-0. The Panthers scored at least one touchdown in each quarter, and two TDs in the second and third quarters. QB Cam Newton threw for 223 yards, 3 TDs and one interception. Running back D'Angelo Williams continued his torrid pace with 120 yards on the ground. The win got the Panthers to 1-2 on the season and showed they can play offense. The team had been fairly dormant for the first two games, so it was good to see an outburst. One concern is that wide receiver Steve Smith left the game early. The Panthers have their bye in Week 4.
9/19/13: The Carolina Panthers dropped to 0-2 with a last second loss to the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo. The Panthers were strong throughout the game and led late. The Panthers defense even picked off an E.J. Manuel pass late in the fourth quarter. But the Panthers allowed the Bills to march down the field and Manuel threw a short pass to wide receiver Stevie Johnson for the winning score. The Panthers return home for a chance to get back on track against the 0-2 New York Giants. So far, this season is looking a lot like last season, and head coach Ron Rivera likely will not survive a repeat.
9/12/13: Carolina is trying to develop a tough defense to counteract the high-flying offenses in the NFC South - and they did that for most the game against the visiting Seattle Seahawks. However, their offense failed to show up and let them down. The Panthers fell to the Seahawks 12-7 by giving up a late touchdown. Steve Smith scored a touchdown, but otherwise was limited to just 51 yards receiving. Seattle does have an excellent defense, so it will be interesting to see how the Panthers do against others. This week, Carolina makes a visit to Orchard Park to face rookie QB E.J. Manuel and the Buffalo Bills.
9/4/13: The Carolina Panthers are still the forgotten son in the NFC South. All the attention this offseason has gone to the Atlanta Falcons' offense, the return of the New Orleans Saints, and the improvement of the Tampa Bay defense. Lost in the muddle is the fact that the Panthers have really built up their defense to stop the high flying offenses in their division. They may even have the best line-backing corps in the entire league. The Panthers will get a great test on Sunday when they open against Russell Wilson and the highly regarded Seattle Seahawks.
8/29/13: The Panthers look like they found a gem in second year linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kuechly led the league in tackles as a rookie with 164 and is showing no signs of a sophomore slump. He played great in Carolina's dress rehearsal against the Baltimore Ravens, finishing with seven tackles, two passes defensed, a forced fumble, and an interception. That is pretty remarkable for a second year player, who is now pushing to be the best linebacker in the game. The Panthers need this kind of defense, especially considering they have six games in the division, which includes the potent Falcons and Saints' offenses.
8/22/13: Reports out of Carolina have third year quarterback Cam Newton seeming more confident and at ease this time around. We have all seen what Cam is capable of, both good and bad, and the Panthers are hoping he looks like the QB from the last half of last season rather than the first half. The running back position is still in flux. D'angelo Williams was adequate last year, but was not the same without Johnathan Stewart. Stewart is still banged up and is yet to play. Carolina does not want Newton running the ball as much as he has in the past, but at least that option is open to the team.
8/15/13: The Panthers edged the Chicago Bears 27-24 in preseason action, which is a good sign the team may be able to pull out close games during the regular season. QB Cam Newton, though, still needs to make better decisions if this team is to put up a fight in the NFC South. Newton tried to force a throw into double coverage in the first quarter. It was intercepted by Bears linebacker Johnathan Bostic, who returned it 51 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers committed four turnovers in the game. They won this time, but not there will not be many wins if the Panthers continue to turn the ball over.
8/8/13: The Carolina Panthers are officially on notice. The Panthers general manager made no bones about it - the team must perform this year. That includes QB Cam Newton. Newton had a tremendously successful rookie season, but regress last year - at least for the first half. But the team is stocked with young talent. Their challenge is that they play in the NFC South, which includes offensive dynamos like the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. It is a bold move to call out the team when they play in what is likely the second most difficult division in the entire league.
8/1/13: The Panthers are an enigma as the regular season approaches and it is tough to get a handle on how good this team is. It is well documented that the Panthers struggled through the first half of last season and came on very strong in the second half - saving head coach Ron Rivera's job for at least a little while. Carolina has a pretty good defense, but has to play both New Orleans and Atlanta twice - two teams that can burn out the bulbs in a scoreboard in a hurry. They also play against the NFC West this season, and that may be the best division in the NFL. If nothing else, this season will be a good gauge on the Panthers' progress but may lead to major changes in the next offseason.
7/25/13: It was not that long ago that many NFL 'experts' said that QB Cam Newton was redefining the quarterback position. Actually, that was only two years ago, when Newton was the Rookie of the Year. Newton had a bit of a sophomore slump - his passing yards dropped from over 4,000 to 3,800. His touchdowns fell from 21 to 19. And his completion percentage fell from 60% to 57%. However, it is not like he was terrible. It is just the short memories of the media. Newton has the chance to reclaim some of that rookie magic this season with the best offensive cast he has seen as a pro.
7/18/13: Oh no, the heavens are falling! Panthers QB Cam Newton publicly stated that he is a Falcons fan except when they play the Panthers twice a year. Considering all the ridiculous 'controversy' stirred up by 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick when he wore a Dolphins hat a few weeks ago, one would assume Cam Newton would not make such a comment, particularly since this is a division rival. But before anyone gets too crazy, Newton grew up within the Falcons footprint and it is a hometown team. Maybe he should have kept his thoughts to himself, but really it is the fans who have more hatred for other teams than the players themselves.
7/11/13: In an effort to add depth and experience to their secondary, the Panthers are close to an agreement with safety Quinten Mikel. Mikel played the last few seasons with the St. Louis Rams, and the Philadelphia Eagles before that. He was one of many players (such as Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola) that former Eagles defensive coordinator and St. Louis head coach Steve Spagnoulo took with him from Philly to St. Louis. Mikel does nothing great, but is a solid pro and knows defense. He will be a good depth addition to the Panthers who need to fight the high powered offenses in the NFC South.
7/4/13: The Saints and the Falcons will get most of the publicity in the NFC South this year, as they are the two most talented teams (on paper). The Bucs will get their time on camera with Darrelle Revis and Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson. But the question mark in the division is the Carolina Panthers. They have been flying under the radar, and most people probably do not realize that they finished the season by winning six of their last seven games. What this means is that they may be a darkhorse team in a very good division. If they progress like the second half of last season, then they may be playing in January.
6/27/13: The Panthers should be among the more interesting teams to watch this season, mostly because no one knows what kind of team they will be. They entered last season as a trendy pick since 2011 was strong and Cam Newton proved he could play. But they struggled right off the bat, and started 1-8. They went on to win six of their last seven games to finish at 7-9. So the question is 'who are they'? Are they the doormat from the first nine games or the legitimate playoff contender from the last seven? This will be interesting to watch.
6/20/13: Steve Smith has been with the Carolina Panthers for a long time. In fact, he has been a Charlotte fixture for 13 years. He now says he wants to play two or three more years and wants to be part of greatness. The Panthers made the Super Bowl about a decade ago, but have struggled off and on since. With several new weapons and a more experienced Cam Newton at quarterback, the Panthers may be building something. They do need to find a suitable complementary receiver for Smith, as well as revive the running game this season. Also, the NFC South is very difficult as Atlanta is strong and the Saints are actually the Saints again.
6/13/13: Perhaps the biggest key to a successful 2013 campaign for the Panthers is the emergence of a complementary receiver for veteran Steve Smith. Smith has been the go-to guy for a decade. In that time, the team has never been able to find a suitable counterpart. Dominik Hixon and Ted Ginn Jr. were brought in as depth this offseason. Ginn wants to be more than a return man with blazing speed. It will be important to the development of Cam Newton that someone steps up, otherwise every play will be a pass to Smith or a Newton run.
6/6/13: Many may recall that Ted Ginn Jr. was once among the most highly prized wide receivers in the draft. In fact, he was drafted ninth overall by Miami six years ago. Fast forward to the current day and Ginn Jr. has had two three year stints with the Dolphins and 49ers, but has never lived up to his billing as a wide receiver. On the other hand, he has developed into one of the better return men in the league and still has elite speed. Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera is impressed by that speed and may have a bigger role in mind for Ginn Jr. in the receiving game. It would be nice to see Ginn Jr. do more with his talent, and being a deep threat complement to Steve Smith would be a great place to start.
5/30/13: It is probably just speculation, but there has been some talk that a poor 2013 season could spell the end for Cam Newton in Carolina. The team started at 2-8 last season, which was inexplicable considering they finished on a high note in 2011 - Newton's rookie season. The team did rally and finished up at 7-9, but that was not good enough to sniff the playoffs. In the division, the Falcons are still strong, the Bucs are rebuilt, and the Saints have all their pieces back together. So is it possible to trade Newton? Possible yes, likely no. But this team will succeed or fail on their defense and how they play in the division.
5/16/13: Carolina Panthers' wide receiver Steve Smith got praise from a high place in the past week. Recently retired Buccaneer Ronde Barber regarded Smith as the toughest player he played against. Barber's career spanned 16 seasons and included all of the top 10 NFL wide receivers of all time - including Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, and Calvin Johnson. But he said that Smith was the toughest because he just outworked everyone else. Smith currently sits at 27th in the all time receptions list, about 200 behind Reggie Wayne. He has three years left on his contract and has a chance to move up the list even further.
5/9/13: New Panthers cornerback Drayton Florence talks about all the talent in the Panthers' secondary. Carolina will need lots of talent considering they play both Drew Brees and the Saints twice and Matt Ryan and the Falcons twice each year. Even the Bucs have shown they can throw the ball on occasion. Florence also said that he want to help the team make the playoffs. That should seem like a pretty obvious goal. One should be more concerned if a player does not want to help a team make the playoffs. In any case, Carolina seems more ready to play in the NFC South than they have in several years, which makes this division one to watch.
5/2/13: As much as the Panthers fans do not want to hear it, they are still probably a year away still from competing in the NFC South. They did not have a lot of picks this year, but their first pick was a big name. The Panthers took Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei with the 8th overall pick. Star is considered one of the best defensive tackle prospects in a while, with the emphasis on prospect. He has undeniable talent, but is still raw. He also was severely injured. Panthers doctors believe he is healed now. He needs to be for the Panthers to make any moves this season against a stacked division.
4/25/13: The Panthers and their fans must be looking at the just-released NFL schedule and wonder who they angered. Carolina has the toughest schedule based upon 2012 records. Aside from facing the lethal Atlanta Falcons twice, the restored New Orleans Saints twice, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice, they face a resurgent NFC West as well as the AFC East. In one brutal stretch, the Panthers play the Vikings, Rams, Tampa (on a short week, Thursday night game), Atlanta, San Francisco, and New England (Monday night game). Carolina must be ready to play every week. If they can survive this schedule, they could be a surprise team.
4/18/13: Panther fans and Cam Newton alike would both probably like another top end wide receiver on the roster when the season starts in September. They have the chance to add that playmaker next week at the draft. Steve Smith has been a great player for a number of years. However, he is getting on in years and teams can easily double cover him and limit his effectiveness. The Panthers may be looking at drafting Keenan Allen or Tayvon Austin with their first pick. Either would bolster the passing game and at least relieve some pressure from Smith, while also establishing an heir-apparent.
4/11/13: Carolina is a bit of a mystery right now. Are they the team that could not move the ball the firsrt half of the year or are they the team that won five of their last six, including one against the NFC runner up Atlanta Falcons. Also, Coach Chud (Rob Chudzinski, offensive coordinator) is gone to be the head coach in Cleveland. The Panthers and their fans believe it is the latter. Cam Newton has developed into a quality quarterback. As for draft needs, they could use another defensive lineman and a complementary receiver to take the pressure off of Steve Smith.
4/4/13: The Panthers already have a pretty good defense, featuring Jon Beason, Thomas Davis, and AP Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly. Now they have added veteran Chase Blackburn, formerly of the New York Giants to the mix. Blackburn has played all eight of his seasons with the Giants and won two Super Bowls. He is primarily known as a special teams guy, but did start 15 games last season at middle linebacker. He may not be able to break into the Panthers rotation, but will provide depth and leadership on special teams for the young Carolina squad.
3/28/13: The Panthers understand that the NFC South is an arms race. The starting quarterbacks are Cam Newton (Panthers), Drew Breese (Saints), Matt Ryan (Falcons) and Josh Freeman (Bucs). That means that each of these teams can score in bunches. But the Panthers may be the only one really taking defense seriously. The team is trying to upgrade their secondary, hoping that will help them win more of the six games they must play within the division each season. Carolina signed former Oakland Raiders defensive back and safety Mike Mitchell to help shut down the big time arms they face each week.
3/21/13: Former Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is generally creditted with bringing the zone read offense to the NFL. He did it as a way to help acclimate QB Cam Newton into the league and be successful off the bat. It worked. Now, several teams - most notably the San Francisco 49ers - employ the system. But Coach Chud (now head coach of the Cleveland Browns) thinks that Newton will shed the 'run first' label and eventually be known as a pocket passer. Newton has the arm strength to do so. With the type of maturity that Chud speaks of, Newton could be very dangerous once defenses forget that he can run like the wind.
3/14/13: Carolina is having some cornerback issues, but seemed to have solved one of them by agreeing to a one year deal with veteran Drayton Florence. The Panthers cut solid contributor Chris Gamble, who has opted to retire (he may resurface in a couple months for a contending team that needs some veteran help). Florance played last season in Detroit, but has spent time with many teams, including San Diego where he was drafted in the second round and played under Carolina head coach Ron Rivera. He is not the flashy signing, but he will lend a steady hand until the team's youngsters can develop.
3/7/13: A few months ago, the prediction about the Panthers would be that they may blow up the team and rebuild with a new roster and coach. But the Panthers rallied late in the season, showing they have the talent to compete in the NFC South. That will be needed, as New Orleans will be strong and Atlanta had the best record in the NFL last season. Carolina did release starting defensive lineman Ron Edwards, a stout tackle that consumed two blockers. However, Edwards was often injured, and the move clears up $2.5 million in cap space.
2/14/13: The Panthers' late season surge was enough to save head coach Ron Rivera's job, and the jobs of his coaching staff. The only change was resignation of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski to accept the head coaching position of the Cleveland Browns. Rivera and the Panthers interviewed several candidates, including Bengals' assistant coach Hue Jackson and deposed Cleveland head coach Pat Shurmur. Had they hired Shurmur, they basically would have been trading coaches. Instead, they stayed in-house and promoted quarterbacks coach Mike Shula to the OC position, and will keep the same offense they have run for the past few years.
2/7/13: Assuming he continues his production arc, Cam Newton should be a force in 2013. After an electrifying rookie campaign, Newton started slowly. Perhaps defenses figured him out, perhaps the offense was too complicated, or perhaps he just was not prepared. In any case, then offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski scaled back the playbook and gave Newton more latitude on the field. He took off in the second half of the season - enough to save Ron Rivera's job and reclaim his own title as the Next Big Thing. At this pace, Newton could become an elite quarterback. Now he just has to keep it up.
1/31/13: Panthers players and fans should be disappointed in the teams 7-9 record. Carolina showed much improvement in 2011 with rookie QB Cam Newton and the future looked so bright with a year of development and a full training camp under his belt. But the team regressed early, though they did go on an impressive streak at the end of the season. Still, too little, too late. But the Panthers have shown they know how to draft, from Newton to Johnathan Stewart to Jeff Otah. So there is little reason to expect anything different this April. The Panthers have some holes to fill, but expect those to be filled and for the Panthers to be competitive in the NFC South next season.
1/24/13: Carolina filled their empty offensive coordinator position by promoting Mike Shula to the position. Shula, of course, is the son of legendary Dolphins and Colts head coach Don Shula. Previously, he had served as the quarterbacks coach for the team. Not too many years ago, he was a head coach himself. However, he has proven himself as an offensive guru, better serving in positions than as the main man. The Panthers also interviewed former Cleveland head coach Pat Shurmer, who mentored current St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford, as well as former Raiders coach Hue Jackman.
1/17/13: Cam Newton and the Panthers will have to evolve their dynamic offense without their chief architect from now on. Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski has accepted the head coaching job in Cleveland after two offensively successful years in Carolina. Under Coach Chud, the Panthers were among the league leaders in many offensive categories, even if the team was under .500. The Panthers were particularly strong in the second half of this season. He adapted Newton's strengths and college game plan to the pro level - a technique that several others, such as the Redskins and Seahawks, have copied to spur early success among rookie quarterbacks.
1/10/13: Ron Rivera was on the hot seat and the subject of much firing speculation once the Panthers got off to a slow start this season. Hopes in Carolina were very high after the Panthers turned into an exciting team behind Cam Newton last season. Those hopes were dashed early and often in 2012. The personnel was almost the same, and the team did show flashes of greatness, but could not seem to win. Once the team was eliminated from post season consideration they went on a winning streak, including beating the NFC's best team, Atlanta, at home. Apparently that streak was enough to save Rivera, as it was announced that he would return
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Carolina Panthers Schedule & Key Dates
Opening Day / Carolina Panthers First Game 2015
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Carolina Panthers Past Games Schedule and Carolina Panthers Scores
|Jan 10, 2015||NFC Divisional Game: Carolina Panthers - Seattle Seahawks||17 - 31|
|Jan 3, 2015||NFC Wild Card Game: Arizona Cardinals - Carolina Panthers||16 - 27|
|Dec 28, 2014||Carolina Panthers - Atlanta Falcons||34 - 3|
|Dec 14, 2014||Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Carolina Panthers||17 - 19|
|Dec 7, 2014||Carolina Panthers - New Orleans Saints||41 - 10|
|Nov 30, 2014||Carolina Panthers - Minnesota Vikings||13 - 31|
|Nov 16, 2014||Atlanta Falcons - Carolina Panthers||19 - 17|
|Nov 10, 2014||Carolina Panthers - Philadelphia Eagles||21 - 45|
|Oct 30, 2014||New Orleans Saints - Carolina Panthers||28 - 10|
|Oct 26, 2014||Seattle Seahawks - Carolina Panthers||13 - 9|
|Oct 19, 2014||Carolina Panthers - Green Bay Packers||17 - 38|
|Oct 12, 2014||Carolina Panthers - Cincinnati Bengals||37 - 37|
|Oct 5, 2014||Chicago Bears - Carolina Panthers||24 - 31|
|Sep 21, 2014||Pittsburgh Steelers - Carolina Panthers||37 - 19|
|Sep 14, 2014||Detroit Lions - Carolina Panthers||7 - 24|
|Sep 7, 2014||Carolina Panthers - Tampa Bay Buccaneers||20 - 14|
|Aug 22, 2014||Preseason: Carolina Panthers - New England Patriots||7 - 30|