I’m not much for pre-season predictions and guesses because they seldom come true, but I don’t think anybody could have been further from the truth before this season started. The Panthers are currently 4-9 and tied for the fifth worst record in the NFL. It’s been heartbreak after heartbreak for the most part which resulted in the firing of longtime GM Marty Hurney. It’s also brought up several questions about the future of Coach Rivera.
The Panthers enter Sunday’s matchup with the Chargers needing a win, and to win the last three to improve on last season’s 6-10 record. Would 7-9 be good enough to keep Rivera around for one more season? If Hurney was still around I would say yes because we all know he was a big believer in the three year plan for players and coaches. Are we better than the 2-14 team pre-Cam and pre-Rivera? Definitely. But have we as a team reached our potential? Not yet.
This season has actually had several similarities to last year’s team: strong signs of life at the end of the season, and better production from Cam. During the last couple weeks he really has taken care of the ball and helped secure a signature win against the Falcons. But next year he has to figure things out before we’re completely out of playoff contention. We’ve also been dealing with several injuries this year just as we did last year, and our makeshift defense has shown signs of life like they did during the Falcons game. There’s the reemergence of Thomas Davis, the first player to successfully come back from three ACL surgeries to the same knee. Then you have the tackling machine Luke Kuechly earning NFL Defensive POTW honors following his 16-tackle performance against the Falcons.
Has the season gone exactly as we wanted? Of course not, but with a new GM we can expect new changes and hopefully we will continue to trend upward. I look forward to a strong draft with someone new calling the shots and hopefully working on upgrading positions and not just taking the best available players. I also hope we can look to make some moves in free agency, so that we can work on our offensive line and also add some depth to our defense. This season may not get us to the playoffs, but there’s still plenty to play for and prove.