The Carolina Panthers have a ton of new coaches including highly touted defensive guru Ron Rivera as their number one. They have a run heavy and TE determined offensive coordinator in Rob Chudzinski and a slew of new assistants. They even have the number one overall pick in the April draft.
Yet they still have the same problems John Fox had.
A lack of impact play-makers.
Defensively the Panthers will get a boost from the style of Ron Rivera. They will become more physical and technical at the same time. The attitude will shift more towards a desire and drive to over take a game rather than simply hanging on to one. A few pieces are needed, such as depth at LB, a big body defensive lineman, and a pass rushing force to help out Charles Johnson. But the pieces are there for the most part.
Offensively, that’s another issue.
The Panthers find themselves in search of a QB. Matt Moore is set to leave VIA free agency and the rest of the roster doesn’t shape up all that well.
The first question that Rivera and new OC Chudzinski must ask themselves is if there is anyone in the draft this year worth developing more than what they have on their roster. After all, it starts and ends with the signal caller.
Jimmy Clausen is still young and very unrefined. He showed flashes of what he could become but more of how far he actually is. Brian St. Pierre and Keith Null are hardly realistic options to lead the team immediately and the free agent market is filled with questions as well. Do the Panthers waste a pick and trade for a Kevin Kolb or a Kyle Orton over wasting the same pick on one in the draft? Do they sign an FA veteran to bridge the team between himself and youngster?
Is Clausen a long term option that needs time? Has he shown enough to warrant the Panthers skipping on a QB in the Andrew “Luck”less first round? If so, is spending the first pick in round 2 on a QB a better option than Clausen, St. Pierre, or again, a veteran that you would have to trade for?
Let’s face it, second round QB’s are much more likely to succeed. So does spending that 2nd on a veteran make sense?
The QB questions are endless. And they will literally be debated moving forward until the start of next season.
There are other issues too however that need to be addressed.
Without a QB can this group keep Steve Smith happy? Is he a viable option to trade and gain more picks or perhaps a QB? What about the other lackluster WR’s? David Gettis, Brandon Lafell, and David Clowney? None of those three strike fear in opposing corners but is that enough to warrant spending the top overall pick on someone like A.J. Green?
At least the Panthers are set at RB with returning Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson. But does the team let De’Angelo Williams walk away and in the process take a hit to their depth? Williams had an off year but so did the entire Panther offense.
A lot questions for a new nucleus of coaches. Makes it even harder when your HC is a first time HC without the benefit of having former HC’s as his assistants. They will all be learning this together.