NFL Power Rankings: Panthers already falling
The Carolina Panthers are moving backwards in at least one edition of NFL Power Rankings for 2018…
Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera began the offseason expecting little change from his team except for the potential loss of defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. Despite the franchise sale, Rivera expected many of his other coaches to remain in place in addition to just a handful of personnel changes.
Fast forward two months and Carolina has endured the expected departure of Wilks to become coach of the Arizona Cardinals but his exit was just the beginning of numerous departures and additions which would follow. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula and quarterback coach Ken Dorsey were fired and replaced by Norv Turner and his son.
Other coaches also departed as Carolina promoted some guys from within to fill their vacancies and dipped into the college ranks for a few replacements. Needless to say, there was a lot of turnover on staff.
Initially the Panthers were ranked in the top-10 by ESPN after a wild-card berth and 11-win season. There were a few questions up front on both sides of the football as many expected general manager Marty Hurney would have to decide if the team wanted to keep defensive tackle Star Lotulelei or guard Andrew Norwell.
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When the time came both departed via free agency and including trades and releases, other starters at safety, cornerback, defensive end and running back are also no longer part of the team. Two captains, Thomas Davis and Ryan Kalil, have indicated their plans to retire after this year and Julius Peppers is likely to follow suit.
Although Hurney made moves to replace many of the gaps on the roster, finding an offensive guard has not been one of them. For this reason, the latest ESPN Power Rankings have Carolina dropping two positions to No. 12 overall.
There is no question Carolina has areas of need on their current roster, even with the moves made to this point. Fortunately, none of these rankings are based off on-field performances as the Panthers were ranked No. 18 last season and obviously improved.
Next: Offseason Roster Review - Offense
Eventual Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, were even further down ranked No. 21 in the league.