The biggest splash so far this offseason for the Carolina Panthers is going in a completely different direction at quarterback with Teddy Bridgewater. Early expectations for Teddy Bridgewater are good heading into 2020.
The Carolina Panthers are committed to doing a complete rebuild for what should hopefully be a brighter future. Many of their veteran players and household names have either been cut, released, or even retired. Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, interesting days are undoubtedly ahead for a franchise looking for an effective restart. Patience will be needed from here on out for what awaits the Panthers this upcoming season.
When it comes to their quarterback situation, the Panthers will have a new starter under center for the first time in over nine years. Cam Newton was cut and in his place will be quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. A veteran quarterback who brings experience to the table, Bridgewater is healthy and ready to prove he can continue being a high-quality starter.
If Bridgewater can resemble his 2015 sophomore campaign back when he was on the Minnesota Vikings, the Panthers could be a contender again sooner rather than later. That season, Bridgewater totaled 3,231 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, nine interceptions, and had a completion percentage of 65.3.
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Even last season with the New Orleans Saints, Bridgewater looked great and well, made a solid case for himself as he entered free agency that he can still play at an effective starter level. The only thing is, early expectations for exactly what Bridgewater can accomplish in his first season with the Panthers should be moderate.
While Bridgewater will likely play a lot better than Newton, the Panthers still have a lot of question marks across the team, especially on offense. They added good new talent to their wide receiver corps so far this offseason (Robby Anderson, Pharoh Cooper, Seth Roberts) but have yet to make any quality moves when it comes to their offensive line.
Bridgewater needs a better supporting cast around him
In the grand scheme of things, football games are won or lost in the trenches. The offensive line is crucial towards consistent success and so far in free agency, they’ve only signed offensive guard John Miller. He’s decent but not a long-term answer as there are still missing pieces that need to be addressed. Hopefully, the Panthers address their offensive line via the 2020 NFL Draft, otherwise, there is only so much Bridgewater can do with below-average protection.
At tight end, the positional group that is usually a quarterback’s best friend will look very weird. It’ll be the first time you won’t see Greg Olsen lining up and the talent currently on the roster is lackluster. It’s expected that Ian Thomas and Chris Manhertz will see some kind of rotation there but they’re not exactly elite players. They’re barely average and if Bridgewater is to come in and start executing at a high level, he’ll need better supporting talent around him to get the job done.
It might very well take two to three seasons from now for the Panthers to successfully build a better supporting cast around Bridgewater. Mind you, that’s just on that side of the ball but we’ll leave defense and special teams for next time as those are also areas that need better talent.
For now, early expectations for Bridgewater heading into 2020 are more than likely to be better than what we’ve seen over the last few years with Newton. It’s definitely a step in the right direction but there is still a lot of work to be done to have everything come together to produce winning seasons again.