This Sunday’s Tremendous Bowl marks the tip of one other season, and one other offseason crammed with questions for our in-state crew.
The Panthers’ proprietor was very clear when he purchased the crew from Jerry Richardson that he has a must-win strategy to working the crew, which is how Ron Rivera was proven the door in the course of the 2019 season, regardless of beforehand incomes two coach of the 12 months awards. (And now Ron has gained the award for the third time, which makes the transfer look even dumber than it did on the time.)
So, if the Panthers completely should win in 2021, what should the entrance workplace do to enhance the roster?
• First off, don’t draft a quarterback.
Sure, I do know there are some QBs within the draft class this 12 months, and any certainly one of which may make an enormous distinction in the midst of the franchise. Nonetheless, in case you are trying to win this 12 months, you don’t begin a rookie quarterback.
I wasn’t bought on Teddy Bridgewater by midseason. He was nonetheless getting quite a lot of reward by announcers and the speaking heads within the studios till the tip of the 12 months, however I noticed loads of purple flags all 12 months.
The worst? In 15 video games, Teddy threw 13 TD passes within the first half. Not unhealthy. Looks like he could be midway to 26 TD passes.
Besides, Teddy threw precisely two TD passes within the second half of those self same 15 video games. That’s proper, two. That’s principally seven and a half entire video games’ value of enjoying with solely two scores.
That’s why I name him Teddy Chokewater.
Commerce Teddy elsewhere or lower him and signal one other. Heck, bench Teddy and provides P.J. Walker an entire offseason to prepare. He confirmed an enormous arm and athleticism.
You understand who would might need been an amazing alternative proper now? The man Carolina principally gave away in Kyle Allen.
Sure, I do know Kyle had ups and downs, however he was additionally simply 23 years ending his first season. Did you see what he did in Washington earlier than he was injured on a unclean leg whip? He was averaging proper at a 100 QB ranking. Cam Newton by no means had a 100 ranking, even when he gained league MVP in 2015. Teddy had a 92.1 ranking (artificially inflated by a excessive completion fee primarily based on check-down throws).
• Please, please, please search for Luke Kuechly’s alternative within the draft. The worst roster transfer of 2020 was bringing in Tahir Whitehead to play center linebacker. Coach Matt Rhule went with certainly one of his former school gamers, however Tahir simply didn’t make performs all season and was lastly benched by the final couple of video games.
Kuechly’s title could be mentioned by the announcers 10 occasions a sport, however Tahir may go a whole sport with no single point out. The run protection and quick go protection each suffered due to his horrible play.
• It appears yearly I say the crew wants to take a look at the offensive line, and it’s nonetheless true — however worse this time. Heart Matt Paradis is the one common starter below contract subsequent 12 months.
I’m okay with a few of that — I’m you LG Chris Reed and LT Russell Okung — however the appropriate facet with RT Taylor Moton and RG John Miller appeared to be fairly good.
The unhappy half is that the crew did make investments two draft picks on guys who confirmed good potential, however have been injured quite a lot of their two years with the crew. Greg Little and Dennis Daley break up time at left deal with in 2019, typically going backwards and forwards due to accidents. They each completed 2020 on injured reserve.
• In 2016 the Panthers used three of their prime 4 draft picks on cornerbacks. Just one panned out (James Bradberry), and he left with an enormous contract a 12 months in the past.
The crew desperately must draft not less than one if not two corners.
Donte Jackson is without doubt one of the quickest guys in the entire league, however spent the entire season hampered by a toe harm. Tony Pleasure Jr. was a rookie who obtained picked on rather a lot. The opposite possibility, who began 11 video games was Rasul Douglas, who was good towards large, slower possession receivers, however not fast wideouts.
Actually, Douglas is basically higher suited as a free security who also can cowl receivers and tight ends one on one when wanted — quite than each down.
Jackson ran a 4.32 time within the 40 on the mix. Douglas ran a 4.59. That could be a full quarter of a second slower.
Rasul was within the thirty second percentile for CBs within the 40 time and shuttle run and twenty sixth percentile on vertical leap (yikes!). However he scored excessive for weight/top, arm size and bench press. Actually, when his measurables had been in comparison with different previous members within the mix, his finest matches weren’t corners in any respect. His finest match was former two-time Professional Bowl security Michael Lewis.
Juston Burris began 13 video games at security and had 53 tackles. Douglas began simply 11 video games at CB and had 62 tackles. Think about in the event you re-signed Rasul and put him at Juston’s spot. Oh, and reducing Burris would save the crew $3.8 million towards the cap.
• I’ve been saying this for 2 years: signal or draft a man to do the vast majority of carries at working again. Let Christian McCaffrey spend extra time as a slot receiver.
The crew is prone to lose Curtis Samuel, a receiver who can break up time within the backfield, as a result of he had such a pleasant 12 months he will probably be too costly to re-sign.
So shift McCaffrey extra towards that position. Get McCaffrey 1,000 yards receiving and fewer rushes the place he takes such a pounding. I used to be saying this even earlier than he missed nearly all of 2020 with accidents.
• One nice benefit for the Panthers is that Coach Rhule obtained the chance to educate one of many groups within the Senior Bowl, with a few of the finest school seniors throughout the nation.
He not solely obtained to see their bodily expertise up shut, he had an opportunity to see how the gamers accepted criticism and training.
James Hudson is a former defensive lineman who switched to O-line. Some scouts had been very impressed together with his Senior Bowl practices. What did Rhule suppose? Quinn Meinerz is a Division III O-line stud within the mould of Tampa’s Ali Marpet. Did Rhule suppose him ok to draft within the second or third spherical?
• Lastly, it’s time for the crew to chop former star DT Kawann Brief. At one time Brief and Star Lotuleilei fashioned a formidable tandem within the center. However, Brief has performed simply 5 of 32 video games the previous two seasons with solely seven solo tackles, zero sacks and just one deal with for a loss.
And this season Brief is scheduled to make a whopping $20.84 million. His cap hit is $11.02, so reducing him would save $9.82 million in cap area.
One other attainable payroll lower could be DE Stephen Weatherly, who is ready to make $7.9 million, however solely $2 million would depend towards the cap, so reducing would save $5.9 million. He solely performed in 9 video games with simply 17 tackles and nil sacks.
The crew hoped he would make an enormous leap after ending his rookie contract in Minnesota with simply six sacks in 4 seasons.