Carolina Panthers: Where it went wrong

Projections

After posting a 15-1 win season in 2015, the Carolina Panthers were predicted to go 13-3 or 12-4 in preseason predictions.  They didn’t.  They fell short of preseason predictions and was analysts biggest miss. Where did it all go wrong?

David Newton for ESPN wrote:

The foundation that helped Carolina to an NFL-best 17-2 record (including playoffs) and a trip to the Super Bowl in 2015 for the most part remains intact. Blame an inexperienced secondary with three new starters, catastrophic injuries on the offensive line and inconsistent play by reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton for the huge step backward this past season. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly’s absence in the final six games after suffering a concussion didn’t help either.

Offense

Their offense was all over the place.  One week they scored 46 points then the next week they scored 10.  They scored 25 points or more 7x and 16 points or fewer 6x’s.  Last year those numbers were completely different.  They scored 25 points or more 13x’s and under 16 points only once, which was the Super Bowl.  Without drastic changes to personnel, I would still say their transformation was more substantial than Bruce to Caitlyn Jenner’s.  Cam Newton, the offensive line, and losing Greg Norman headlined their decline.

Cam Newton

If Cam Newton was Superman last year, then consider him Robin’s sidekick after this year, his stats were pedestrian and his inconsistency showed up in the win column.

He had career lows in completion %, average yards per completion, QBR, and rating. He ranked last in the league in completion %, below Brock Osweiler and Fitzpatrick.  His touchdowns dropped from 35 to 19, and he threw more interceptions than any other year since his rookie season.  Besides a poor offensive line, what’s the problem?

Personally, I think what happened to Newton this year is the same thing that happened to Rocky III.  Rocky was pounded by Clubber Lang because he lost his eye of the tiger.  Cam was too well fed and lost his hunger.  He spent more time complaining about refs not calling hits on him and less time preparing and focusing on how to make plays.

Cam also complained that football wasn’t fun anymore.  Football isn’t fun?  That to me, explains his mental makeup.  He loves game day and being a superstar.  When the going gets tough Cam complains.  He needs to learn to enjoy the grind and be consistent.  Which is sad because has the Lebron James body of the NFL and this year he played like Dellavedova.

Offensive Line

Michael Oher, the only offensive lineman your wife might know, Ryan Kalil and Gino Gradkowski all were injured in the year.  These losses were too much and they weren’t able to protect Cam which helped result in Cam’s poor year.

Defensive Backs

David Newton for ESPN wrote:

2016 grade: D-plus. I debated going with a C-minus here because rookie corners James Bradberry and Daryl Worley showed marked improvement in the second half of the season. But it’s hard to ignore that starter Bene’ Benwikere was released after a Week 4 loss to Atlanta in which Julio Jones had 300 yards receiving. It’s hard to ignore that the corners played a major role in a 1-5 start from which the Panthers never fully recovered. It’s also hard to ignore the Panthers still ranked 28th in pass defense a year after ranking 11th in 2015 with Norman.

This says it all.

The Panthers were unable to build upon the success of 2015.  If Cam can humble himself, get back to work, and revive his career like the Italian Stallion, they can return to prominence.  Cam has all the tools, lets just see if he has the discipline.

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