Panthers: Offensive weapons given top-five ranking by ESPN

The offensive weapons that the Carolina Panthers have been ranked as one of the NFL’s best by ESPN writer Bill Barnwell.

It is not hard to figure out why the Carolina Panthers have high expectations for their offense in 2020. They are absolutely loaded with players that can come up with incredible production. And the addition of offensive coordinator Joe Brady is something else that has the ability to transform their fortunes.

There are still plenty of questions to answer on the defensive side of the ball. But if quarterback Teddy Bridgewater can get the necessary protection, then it should result in the Panthers putting up some significant points on the board.

This is an opinion shared by ESPN writer Bill Barnwell, who ranked every NFL teams’ offensive weapons heading into the new campaign. The Panthers came in at No. 5 on the list, which is a surge from the No. 22 they found themselves in before the 2019 season.

Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, and Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs were place higher in the standings. And Barnwell is expecting big things from Carolina’s offense going forward.

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What Bill Barnwell had to say about the Carolina Panthers offensive weapons

It’s hard for a running back to be more productive than Christian McCaffrey, who finished with the third-most yards from scrimmage (2,392) in NFL history. The only hole I can poke in his production is that much of it came with the Panthers trailing; he (453 receiving yards) and teammate DJ Moore (421) ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in receiving yards when their team’s chance of winning was below 10%. It’s difficult to imagine McCaffrey being quite as productive in 2020, but even 80% of his 2019 season would make him one of the NFL’s best backs.

Everybody knows McCaffrey is a star, but even given those numbers above, I’m not sure people are appropriately valuing Moore. The 2018 first-rounder finished with 1,175 receiving yards despite catching passes from Kyle Allen and a compromised Cam Newton. Moore could be a top-10 receiver with better quarterback play from Teddy Bridgewater this season. I’m not quite as optimistic about Curtis Samuel, who averaged less than 6.0 yards per target a year ago, but new addition Robby Anderson also should benefit from an improved passer. The biggest question is Ian Thomas, who impressed at the end of 2018 and will have the first shot at taking over for Greg Olsen at tight end.

This is high praise for a group that could see the Panthers surprise a few. Their chances of attaining a winning record have been written off by most experts. And this lack of expectation is another element that could work in their favor.

All this could come crashing to a halt if Carolina’s offensive line does not hold up its end of the bargain. Three of the five linemen could be new to the organization. And having little time to work on chemistry before competitive action returns could be a serious problem.

If the unit can come together quickly, it is going to do their chances an enormous amount of good. The weapons at Bridgewater’s disposal could make a substantial difference as the signal-caller looks to make a real go of another starting chance. And they could be one of the NFL’s must-watch group of playmakers next season.