What's going on, you guys! This post here will be a quick look at the Panthers roster on offense and the new coaching staff. I think their offense has the potential to surprise with it's efficiency and big play capability this year.
So. The first key is the new coaching staff. Matt Rhule takes over and with him comes Joe Brady. Brady was on the staff at LSU last year (his first and only year there). A team that that won the National Championship and featured Joe Burrow throwing 60 touchdowns with 5,000 yards. He was the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach. He was also an assistant on the Saints staff for two years. He brought the spread offense to LSU. His attack allows for speedsters and play makers in space to catch shorter passes on the edge and make something happen after the catch. It does allow for downfield attacks, by conditioning the defense to defend the underneath routes and spread themselves out. He will field a modern offensive scheme in a the ever changing landscape of NFL tactics.
As for the offensive roster, I actually really like it. I liked it last year with a healthy Cam Newton at the helm and Norv Turner calling plays, even. This year brings Brady calling plays and Teddy Bridgewater throwing passes. I am not the biggest fan of Bridgewater, but he shows that he still has the skill from his Vikings days, and even some more untapped potential, when he stepped in last year to spot for the injured Drew Brees. Teddy B isn't the greatest dynamic, deep passer, with a knack for magical plays at any moment, but he is at least a very good quarterback. I think he can head towards great if everything goes well in Carolina. He is good with short, rhythmic passing concepts. He can read defenses and deliver a strike in the short and intermediate ranges. So, they chose a good quarterback for their style and system whether or not he is the long term solution or a placeholder for a soon to be rookie. I am a fan of Can Newton and think he was showing himself off as a transformed passer before getting hurt, but I do believe in Teddy..
The running backs. Pfft look no further than Christian McCaffrey. The team MVP two years in a row. He runs inside with power and finesse, can bounce outside with his speed, catches passes and run routes like almost no other, and he blocks. Run CMC is one of the best running backs in the league right now and if all goes well, he will be in the conversation for one of the greatest of all time. For now though, he is an ideal player to have in the backfield in today's NFL. His style and versatility make him a focal point of the offense and a safety blanket for the QB. I think he will catch EVEN MORE passes this year. Well, he'll have the opportunity to do so. He caught 107 last year. He will presumably have even more designed plays to get him the ball in space and will spend more time out wide or in the slot. The depth at the position concerns me. Reggie Bonnafon had a few great moments last year and Jordan Scarlett is… well he exists. I don't trust either as a true complimentary piece to McCaffrey. I also don't think they can consistently shoulder the load if McCaffrey misses any time. Mike Davis has potential to be a good power compliment to the versatility of McCaffrey, but what has he done to truly prove himself? Nothing so far. There are two players that can and will be able to offset that though…
As for the receivers, this could be FUN. DJ Moore leads the pack. He has proven himself as their number one receiver over his first two years in the league. He can thrice outside and in the slot. He has great speed and is really getting to be a technician running routes. Robbie Anderson is a prototypical speed guy. He is going to run deep most of the time and he will be able to burn and outmaneuver defenders more often than not, as long as Teddy B is on his game. Curtis Samuel is one of my favorite players. He was more of a running back in college, in a way. I thought when they drafted him, that they were going to try and use him and McCaffrey in a duel sort of way. Samuel constantly on fly sweeps, running from the shotgun formation,etc. He has been more of a classic receiver, save for the sweeps and end arounds. He gets better each year, but he hasn't really exploded. Injuries have played a part in that process. The rest are really just depth. I've liked Seth Roberts since his Raiders days, he is good in the slot and red zone. The big three on the depth chart are absolutely a monstrous trio. If they stay healthy, look out. The speed is just undeniable. All of them can go deep and they can do even more damage catching those short passes in space and making something happen. The Panthers should be one of the more explosive offenses in the league, really. Based on offenses today, the tight end position is included in the receiver group. It's disappointing that Greg Olsen isn't along for this ride (he is a member of the Seahawks,) but he left Ian Thomas in a good place. Thomas is a third year pro I believe. Maybe second… Either way he is young. When he was drafted, he came out of college with very raw, unrefined skills. His talent levels were greater than his skill. He has slowly progressed and shown truly brilliant flashes. So, here's to hoping the wide open offense gets him some good looks over the middle. He does need to improve blocking as he will probably be one of the few players left pick up any blitzers or just help with pressure. Chris Manhertz has been a staff favorite for a couple years and he has better blocking prowess, so he may see more playing time depending on how it goes.
The offensive line. The Crux of the entire operation. We'll see. This group started out well last year, but quickly went off the rails. Newton got rocked in the pocket Las year and it got worse when Kyle Allen took over. They did deal with some injuries and there are new additions this year. They did trade away their best in Trai Turner. I see it as a salary dump. Plus, in the trade, they added a potentially good tackle. In recent memory, the ends of the Panthers line has been the main problem. Right now, it seems as if left-to-right will be: Russel Okung, John Miller, Matt Paradise, Denis Daley, and Taylor Moton. Tackle remains a problem and the loss of Turner makes the interior a problem. Paradise was a high priced addition to the crew last year, but he needs help. If Okung stays healthy, he has a chance to be pretty solid. Miller is solid, but not a guy I want to rely on for years to come. I honestly don't know about Dennis Daley. The real question is right tackle. I love Taylor Moton, but he has proven to be a slightly better guard (and not a great one per say) than tackle at the NFL level. So, I like him, but I don't truly believe, at this time, that he is the rock on the right side at tackle. Last year's draft pick, Greg Little didn't have a good first year. He also ended up injured, I believe. He has the potential to take either tackle spot, if he can keep getting better. I would assume the right side and Moton swings into either guard position. No matter what, this group needs to play at it's absolute top level. Bridgewater does not necessarily thrive under pressure in the pocket (just as every other QB to ever really exist does not) and McCaffrey needs a chance to get out of the backfield. A good running back can't do most of their work behind the line of scrimmage.
So, all in all, as long as Teddy B is on his game and the offensive line can get their shit together, The Panthers will be one of the most entertaining offenses and toughest teams to beat in 2020. Thanks for reading this! Be sure to check out the most recent episode of the podcast on YouTube or almost anywhere you get your podcasts!