4 encouraging signs for Panthers to take from the 2020 season

(Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns
(Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Some encouraging signs for the Carolina Panthers to take from the 2020 season.

As many expected beforehand, the 2020 season was an eventful one for the Carolina Panthers. There was a significant amount of upheaval both to the playing and coaching staff throughout the preparation period, which was further hampered by COVID-19 restrictions resulting in limited face-to-face time and no preseason fixtures to build chemistry.

In some respects, the campaign was a “what might have been” scenario for the Carolina Panthers. Their eventual 5-11 record would have looked far different had they not gone 0-8 on game-winning or tying drives in close-fought contests, so they might not be too far away from mounting a playoff push if they can make strides in the coming months.

It is going to be another busy offseason, of that there is little doubt. Carolina has some vacancies to fill on the coaching side, a new general manager set to be appointed sooner rather than later, and plenty of big decisions to be made regarding current players and those the organization could potentially recruit during free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.

What comes next will be equally as important, but here some encouraging signs the Panthers can take from their recent exploits during the 2020 season.

Encouraging Sign No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /

Matt Rhule’s transition

It has been a baptism of fire for Matt Rhule in his first head coaching gig at the next level. The Panthers bet big that he can turn the organization around when they gave him a seven-year, $60 million deal to prise him away from Baylor and although he didn’t manage to attain a winning record from his inaugural season in Carolina, he can back on his initial efforts with a great sense of pride.

Rhule has the Panthers believing again.

Which was the main objective in year one of his substantial rebuild.

Few expected Carolina to be as competitive as they were, even though they need more in the way of quality to realistically enter the playoff discussion in 2021 and beyond. Nobody will know that more than Rhule, who has the full support of the locker room and, perhaps more importantly, owner David Tepper judging by how heavily he’s been involved with the recruitment of a new general manager.