It seems to me that for the past three years, the Panthers have always been looking forward. Once again I get that strange feeling that the Panthers have nothing to play for except pride, so why not look ahead. I know everyone has developed their own theories as to where the Panthers stand, so here are mine. I’m going to go about this in a similar fashion to Panther game reviews, listing the three things every Panther fan is thinking about, the coaching staff, our current players, and of course the 2013 NFL Draft, starting with the current coaching staff.
It seems to me that the Panthers Defense never makes adjustments coming in to a half or a quarter where they performed poorly. I would say the same for the Offense, but Rob Chudzinski, as seemingly resurrected the Offense that we were so accustomed to last season, in this latter half of the season. It has definitely shown in the level of touchdowns and yards gained per game. For example Steve Smith didn’t have a single touchdown, but now he has two, and Greg Olsen had one touchdown in the first half and three in the second. The Offensive Line continues to get progressively better since the past fiascos against Denver and the Giants; they still aren’t at the same caliber as I’d figured they be, though.
My problem is with the Defensive Coordinator, Sean McDermott. After great showings against the Bears and the Falcons, the Defensive Line has been slack compared to what they have been able to produce. I personally believe that other teams are reading into our schemes, if that’s at all possible. After a not so stellar performance, like at Kansas City, when we came back into the game with no adjustments made. Granted Ron Edwards is injured, and we really miss his push in the middle.
So looking forward I’d like to see a replacement for McDermott. Maybe one for Rivera as well, but I’d like to see what he’d be able to do with a more competent and proven Defensive Coordinator, someone with more experience as a Defensive Coordinator, instead of one year with the Eagles, and then coming into Carolina with a year under his belt. As for Rivera, I see him as a mixed bag. I don’t exactly want him gone, but I’d rather have John Gruden or Bill Cowher instead. If we have another season though, like the one that we are having this season, then he deserves to be pulled out as Head Coach. Our players don’t deserve two losing seasons in row, let alone three, with so much talent.
As for our current players, there are a lot of things I’d like to see happen. I’ll start with the defense.
With the expected return of Jon Beason and Ron Edwards, I’d like to see the Panthers try a three-four scheme, obviously with Beason, Kuechly, Anderson, and Davis as Linebackers, and Edwards, Hardy, and Johnson up front. We could exchange “Big” Dwan, Frank Alexander, and a possible draft pick in with the big boys up front, to keep the opponent on their toes. We wouldn’t have to use a different scheme on every down, but if we could adjust schemes with the flow of the game, it would really add an entire new layer to the Panthers defense. As for the secondary, I’m sure anyone who has read my past articles can attest to my disappointment with the entire unit, with Josh Norman being the only exception, based on his potential. Haruki Nakamura needs to go. He still plays like a back-up and with a secondary with no depth; we can’t have that out of a starter. Sherrod Martin could be Nakamura’s replacement in the future, but with his injury, those plans could be halted for a while. Godfrey is still a tad bit inconsistent for my taste.
As for the Corners, Josh Norman could be a future All-Pro Cornerback, even though some of his plays on the ball really showed his age. Munnerlyn isn’t a starter either. He makes some good plays on the ball, but ends up getting beat more than Norman, who’s a rookie. Hopefully Chris Gamble can bounce back from his injury and have an All-Pro season next year, replace Norman as number one corner, and move Munnerlyn to the third corner and Norman to second corner, where they rightfuly belong.The Offense doesn’t need too much work, outside of the Offensive Line. Maybe three players on the current line would be starters on other teams, Silatolu, Bell, and Gross, and Silatolu needs a lot of work. The Panthers should really look into a Right Guard during the draft, in the latter rounds, which is basically a revolving door, with Gary Williams, Jeff Beyers, and the recently released Jeremy Bridges switching out though the games. Obviously, a better Line would increase our running yards, as well as give Cam a better cushion. I’d also like to see more plays that include some of the younger receivers. John Fox did it; take a look at LaFell now, and Gettis’s rookie campaign. David Gettis lead our team in receiving yards in 2010 for crying out loud. However, he hasn’t caught a single pass this year, and rookie Joe Adams has only had one reception as well.
As for Cam, he fits well under Chud’s system, and isn’t going anywhere soon. Same goes for LaFell, Smith, Williams, Stewart, and Olsen. The only thing I’d like to see is a possible free agent pick up, such as Dwayne Bowe from Kansas City, or Danny Amendola from St. Louis, who are both going into free agency at the end of this year.
Last but not least, the 2013 NFL Draft. I personally would like to see our first round selection be a Defensive Tackle, which are wildly available this year, or a player in the Secondary unit, preferably a Safety to replace Haruki, or a Corner to add depth. I’d like to see DT’s, Jonathon “Big” Hankins out of Ohio State or Star Lotulelei out of Utah. As for Safeties and Corners, CB’s DeMarcus Milliner out of Alabama and Xavier Rhodes out of Florida State look to be the best out of the class, while the best safeties to me seem to be Kenny Vaccaro and Tony Jefferson (great name!) out of Texas and Oklahoma, respectively. As for the other picks, I’d like to see the selections used on a Right Tackle, Left Tackle, Left Guard, Right or Left Linebacker, and maybe a Wide Receiver or a Running Back.
Please leave a comment below discussing your thoughts on the future, and don’t be afraid to go in depth, I plan to respond to any if not all comments.