Three Carolina Panthers to watch: Indianapolis Colts

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) D.J. Moore
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) D.J. Moore /

The Carolina Panthers will trot out their third starting quarterback of the season for the second season consecutively on Sunday. 

Now that most fans have fully embraced the train wreck that is 2019, it’s time to enjoy what little Panthers football we have left by looking on the bright side of things.

The Panthers can still obtain a top five pick. If they win they win and if they lose, they still win.
Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore are having monster seasons and have opportunities to finish the season with numbers that we are not accustomed to seeing in Carolina.
We finally get a look at a quarterback that isn’t Kyle Allen sacking himself or throwing blind interceptions on every other play.
The season is lost, sure, but one of the most pivotal off-seasons in franchise history looms. With a new head coach to be hired, a possible top ten pick in the draft, and the most important position on the team being up in the air, this summer will be anything but boring. Here’s who I’ll be watching closely on Sunday, as I continue to torture my soul for three hours per weekend.

QB Will Grier

Willy G. He appeared a week early in this segment, but after another dreadful performance from Kyle Allen the rookie out of West Virginia gets his first NFL start. It sure would be refreshing to see Grier connect with Curtis Samuel on a deep ball or two, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. If you are truly rooting for this team’s best interest, you don’t want them winning another game this year.

With the quarterback spot in question and a top heavy draft at the position, each spot you can jump in the first twelve picks can make a tremendous difference. I’ll be watching for Grier to play well, just not well enough to win this game.

RB Christian McCaffrey

With 2,121 scrimmage yards and 18 total touchdowns in 14 games, not only is Christian McCaffrey the first panther to ever top 2,000 yards from scrimmage, but he is still on pace for a historical offensive season. It hasn’t translated to wins in the way we’d like it to, but it has been more than fun to watch this kid play his ass off all year.

McCaffrey already has more yards from scrimmage than any player in the last five years with two games left to go. On Tuesday, he was named to his first Pro Bowl along with linebacker Luke Kuechly. The first of many for the young superstar.

If McCaffrey is somehow able to accumulate 388 yards from scrimmage over the next two games, he will have the all time record for yards in a season. If the season were to end today, he would finish tied for 39th all time with some guy named Walter Payton. He also only needs 14 more receptions to break his own franchise record for receptions in a season.

I’ll be watching closely to see if CMC can push to break some fun records before we wrap things up.

WR DJ Moore

Second year wide out DJ Moore has quietly put together an elite season. Let’s look at a comparison to his rookie year.

2018 (16 games)

82 targets

55 receptions

788 receiving yards

Two touchdowns

2019 (14 games)

133 targets

86 receptions

1174 receiving yards

Four Touchdowns

DJ Moore is currently on pace to finish with the NFL’s second most receiving yards only to New Orleans’ Michael Thomas. Moore is already having the seventh best season for a Panthers receiver yards-wise, and is on pace to enter the top five among the ranks of Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad.

This has been a breakout season for DJ Moore and he only looks to improve in year three with a healthy, competent quarterback. Moore is the first Panthers receiver to top 1000 yards receiving since Kelvin Benjamin did in 2014. This feels very different from Benjamin’s season which was riddled with garbage yards and his mirroring DB’s slipping on mysterious Twinkie wrappers.

Moore looks like the best receiver the Panthers have had since the legendary Steve Smith, and I’ll be watching closely to see if he can cap off his fantastic season well with a new passer at the helm.