Training camp is almost here and it’s time to start wondering what the Carolina Panthers will be in 2019.
The 2018 campaign ended badly, with the Panthers finishing 7-9, missing the playoffs and seeing quarterback Cam Newton heading into off-season surgery. The future looked grim for the black and blue, but things have changed.
This offseason, Carolina has bolstered both their offensive and defensive line, added an experienced corner to their secondary, a Super Bowl winning wide receiver and are “very pleased” with the progression of Newton’s recovery.
So expectations should be high heading into the season, right? Not according to the ESPN Upstate listener.
On Tuesday, during the Straight Up Ditti Takeover, I ran a twitter poll to see how the listeners felt about the upcoming Carolina Panthers’ season. Thirty-eight percent of the voters on the poll expected a “mediocre to bad season,” thirty percent said “playoffs or bust” and just five percent of voters see the Panthers as a Super Bowl contender.
The Panthers are just 4-years removed from playing in a Super Bowl. 4-years removed from Cam Newton being the league MVP. This franchise set high expectations and met them, so why should we lower our expectations now?
The Panthers have had a lot of ups and downs during the Cam Newton era, but overall (when healthy) have been among the best teams in the league. So in 2019, don’t set the expectations any lower than that.
In 2018, the Panthers weren’t that far away from having a much better record.
The only bad losses of the season came in Week 10 against the Steelers (52-21) and the last two weeks when Cam was out and the season was already over against the Falcons (24-10) and Saints (33-14).
Other than those 3-games, Carolina was within one score of winning every other game on their schedule. Everything could’ve been different, it wasn’t, but it should give Panthers fans hope that they were “right there” in 2018. It should also raise their expectations for what they demand from this team in 2019.
Those expectations should be solidified with the off-season moves from their front office. Most importantly, adding Gerald McCoy to this defensive line was an ENORMOUS signing for Carolina.
McCoy not only brings his talents as a great defensive end, but is also a perfect mentor for Panthers’ first round draft pick Brian Burns.
Along with signing McCoy and drafting Burns, Carolina also added former Falcons linebacker and defensive end Bruce Irvin and former Buccaneers cornerback Javien Elliott.
Offensively, the Panthers got better as well. Adding deep threat wide out and Super Bowl champion Chris Hogan and drafting some offensive line help in the form of Greg Little out of Ole Miss.
The Panthers front office has made the moves to make this team a contender, now the ball is in Cam Newton and Ron Rivera’s court. The two will have to live up to where the expectations should be.
The should be great. Whether they will be great is on them.
If they aren’t great…then maybe it’s time to make some changes in Charlotte.
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