Last season the Carolina Panthers tried to go all-in on being a playoff team, but sadly that did not turn out. The defense indeed passed the eye test, even putting up some decent stats, but the offense held it back. With Christian McCaffrey injury struggles over the last two seasons, his health is a crucial part of the team’s success.
Improvements: Offensive line
Last season, the Panthers’ offensive line was not great, allowing the fifth-most sacks in the league at 52. Quarterback Sam Darnold (talk about him later) was constantly under pressure, which surely affected his play. Signing Austin Corbett in free agency is a massive step in the right direction. He is not one of the best guards in the NFL, but still an immediate upgrade.
With the sixth pick in the draft, the Panthers selected Ikem Ekwonu, who might be one of the best offensive line prospects. His speed, athleticism, and strength are insane for his size, and he will surely be a long-time starter in the league.
Stayed the same: Wide receiver
Wide receiver was already a point of strength on the team’s offense, and outside of the defense was possibly its most vital unit. They re-signed D.J. Moore to a contract extension, who has quietly been turning into a reliable number one recover. Robby Anderson will be in his second season with the Panthers and look to improve on a lackluster season, with 53 receptions on 110 targets.
Most receiving yards — last 3 seasons
1. Cooper Kupp — 4,082
2. Davante Adams — 3,924
3. Stefon Diggs — 3,890
4. Travis Kelce — 3,770
5. D.J. Moore — 3,525#Rams #RamsHouse #Raiders #RaiderNation #Bills #BillsMafia#Chiefs #ChiefsKingdom #Panthers #KeepPounding pic.twitter.com/SaFtFSKPc7
— Jeff Kerr (@JeffKerrCBS) June 23, 2022
The Carolina Panthers also have some young talent. Terrace Marshall Jr., a second-round draft pick last season, had a minimal role but should see more of the ball this season. They also signed Rashard Higgins to add some more experience to the group.
Got worse: Quarterback
Darnold was not great last season. After trading for him from the New York Jets, the hope was that he would improve. He had better weapons around him and, theoretically, a better offensive line. The offensive line did not hold up, and Darnold carried over all his issues that appeared in New York to the Panthers. He threw nine touchdowns to 13 interceptions in 11 starts.
The reason quarterback is a position that got worse is the team did nothing to make it better. Darnold is not the answer, and this team had a roster that could have pushed for the playoffs last season. Instead, they had the third-worst record in the NFL. Drafting Matt Corral could be a game-changer, and he has the talent to beat out Darnold, but he is still a rookie who could use a year learning the NFL from the bench.
The Panther offseason isn’t horrible. In fact, it was solid, addressing the weakness of the offensive line, keeping a solid defense together, and making sure their wide receivers were happy. The issue is still quarterback, arguably one of the most critical positions on the field, and the Panthers have a proven minus at that position.
Carolina Panthers Schedule:
- Week 1: 9/11 vs Browns, 1 PM, CBS
- Week 2: 9/18 at Giants, 1 PM, Fox
- Week 3: 9/25 vs Saints, 1 PM, Fox
- Week 4: 10/2 vs Cardinals, 4:05 PM, Fox
- Week 5: 10/9 vs 49ers, 4:05 PM, CBS
- Week 6: 10/16 at Rams, 4:05 PM, Fox
- Week 7: 10/23 vs Buccaneers, 1 PM, Fox
- Week 8: 10/30 at Falcons, 1 PM, Fox
- Week 9: 11/6 at Bengals, 1 PM, Fox
- Week 10: 11/10 vs Falcons (Thursday), 8:15 PM, Amazon Prime Video
- Week 11: 11/20 at Ravens, 1 PM, Fox
- Week 12: 11/27 vs Broncos, 1 PM, Fox
- Week 13: BYE
- Week 14: 12/11 at Seahawks, 4:25 PM, Fox
- Week 15: 12/18 vs Steelers, 1 PM, CBS
- Week 16: 12/24 vs Lions (Saturday), 1 PM, Fox
- Week 17: 1/1 at Buccaneers, 1 PM, Fox
- Week 18: 1/7 or 1/8 at Saints, TBD, TBD