The decision by the Panthers was a curious one, and according to Panthers’ GM Marty Hurney, “an extremely hard decision.”
With Crossman as the special teams coach, the unit had stability among it’s kickers. The Panthers led the NFL with 51 touchbacks over the last two seasons.
The downside however, was Carolina’s return average, of 20.3 over the past five years, ranking 32nd in the league. League average is 22.6.
On special teams, the Panthers gave up points as well. They had a very hard time defending against some of the league’s better return players, and even some of the league’s average return men.
Another downside to the Panthers special teams was their seeming inability to field kickoffs and punts. Many times I watched as rookie return man Captain Munnerlyn shied away from a return, and that was just against the New Orleans Saints.
It does beg the question to be asked, might the Panthers be interested in offering a trade to acquire the services of Cleveland Browns return man and receiver, Joshua Cribbs, or is this an area that might be addressed during free agency or the draft?
This year, I was not too impressed with Munnerlyn, though he did show signs of progress towards the end of the season, and Mike Goodson will benefit from an offseason of conditioning and training.
It was reported by Steve Reed of the Carolina Growl, that the Panthers could promote assistant special teams coach Jeff Rodgers to replace Crossman as the new special teams coach.
Check back Monday morning, when I give you my top-five, all-time Carolina Panthers wide receivers.