The Carolina Panthers showed moments of growth and promise in Matt Rhule’s first season in 2020. However, it was not good enough as they finished in third place in the NFC South with a 5-11 record. The Panthers will not have Teddy Bridgewater under this season as they traded him to the Denver Broncos before 2021 NFL Draft. With Bridgewater off to the Mile High City, Carolina acquired Sam Darnold from the New York Jets for a late-round draft pick.
In addition to the changes at quarterback, the Panthers lost wide receiver Curtis Samuel in free agency to the Washington Football Team. However, Carolina still has enough firepower on offense and added an outstanding cornerback in first round in Jaycee Horn.
Carolina Panthers Super Bowl 56 odds: +7000
The Panthers lost six games last season by seven points or less, which could be attributed to the play of the defense and the offense not scoring enough. Now granted, they did not have Christian McCaffrey for most of the season. But that does not excuse the defense for allowing opponents to have a 49.2% conversion rate on third down. If the Panthers want to make the Super Bowl, let alone with the division, it starts with the defense.
Thankfully, Carolina made sure to address the defense with the selection of Horn in the first round to help solidify that secondary. Horn will join a secondary that has Donte Jackson and Jeremy Chinn, who had an outstanding rookie season. Before the draft, the Panthers added to their linebacker core with the free-agent signing of Haason Reddick. Reddick had one of his best seasons in Arizona with a career-high 12.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. The former first-round pick is now reunited with his former college coach in Rhule. Carolina will need Reddick and Brian Burns to apply consistent pressure off the edge this season.
Offensively, the Panthers have the weapons to put up a lot of points with a quarterback in Darnold, who can push the ball down the field. Carolina’s offense features the likes of Run CMC aka Christian McCaffrey, WRs D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall Jr., and rookie RB Chuba Hubbard. The question is what Darnold will the Panthers get? The coaches and fans hope its Darnold from 2019, who competed 61.9% of his passes for 3,024 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. He has a good core of skillset at his disposal, it’s time to see if he can live up to his first-round pick moniker.
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