Carolina Panthers, NFL

Panthers experiencing an EPIC Superbowl Hangover  

You know that hangover when you can feel the pulse is in your head and you just want to curl up in a ball because your eyes are so sensitive to light. That’s how I would describe the play of the 2016 Carolina Panthers. It’s been absolutely atrocious opposing quarterbacks are playing seven on seven against our defense on top of that we become colorblind and have butter fingers. Those factors add up to a 1-5 record and the faintest chance to reach the playoffs at this rate.

This is coming off a magical year where it seemed we couldn’t do anything wrong with a 15-1 and looked primed to claim the franchise’s first championship but we ran into Von Miller and the Denver Bronco defense. This just proves it’s hard to win consistently in the NFL matter how good you were a new year can change everything you think you know about the National Football League and the Panthers are learning a brutal lesson about that.

 

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The Norman Effect

The first thing people are going to talk about is the team’s gamble to rescind the franchise tag of all Pro cornerback Josh Norman. That gamble has definitely not paid off our secondary is like Swiss cheese there are so many holes with two rookies on each side and they are getting schooled.

I backed our decision to let Norman walk the reason why was our front seven wreaked havoc, creating money pockets forcing bad throws allowing Norman and other defenders to take advantage. This year our defensive line is like where’s Waldo all of our pass rush has completely disappeared, forcing Sean McDermott are defensive coordinator to bring extra guys on blitzes causing a weakness to become weaker. Our defense has gone from number six in the league to an atrocious 29th and that fear that opponents had when facing our defense has quickly evaporated now quarterbacks are licking their chops and they are absolutely picking us apart.

While I agree, that Norman is a factor in our struggles we also lost veterans like Charles Tillman, Jared Allen and Cortland Finnegan have played a vital role in the defense of success last year. I think the lack of pass rush has been a bigger factor than the loss of Norman because it’s put even more pressure on the rookies having to cover for so much long has exposed the fact that they are young and don’t know the speed of the NFL. There’s no doubt this gamble has backfired, but you’ve also got to put it on the execution by the players just as much the decision of the organization.

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Under Pressure

The offense has had its share of struggles I think the big reason why is because they understand they have to match the opponent score for score to even feel like they have a chance to pick up the victory. Thus causing Newton and Anderson to force things resulting in turnovers and bad decision-making. The team had a league-leading +20 turnover ratio in 2015 and now has a terrible -7 ratio giving opponents short fields and more possessions digging deeper holes for us to come back from.

Not only that, our offensive line has been less than desirable, causing quarterback Cam Newton to run for his life and he has suffered a concussion this season because of that. Ultimately that cost us a big chance of victory against division rival Tampa Bay. Additionally the wide receivers haven’t made the plays to help Newton. We look to be pressing and there have been way too many negative things on the offensive side of the ball despite our ability to put up points. If we can get healthy and somehow keep Cam Newton upright we can put up points we proved that it’s just a matter of stopping the opponent that’s been the issue.

Honestly we’ve looked absolutely terrible and frankly deserve to be where we are at 1-5. However, we’ve lost three games by field goals a missed 52-yard field goal as time expired in game one. A game-winning field goal by Tampa as time expired and a game winning field goal with 11 seconds left against the Saints. The reality is we are those three field goals away from possibly having a 4-2 record. That’s the way the NFL goes and it’s been gut-wrenching to watch, but it is what it is. To be honest, I’m losing a little confidence in Graham Gano he’s missed 2 extra points and three key field goals that could’ve changed the result of games.

The season has no doubt been disappointing, but it’s not over yet the Kansas City Chiefs were able to overcome this start and make the playoffs so anything can happen, but we have to play with a sense of urgency and desperate the rest of the way to give us the best chance possible to make the playoffs.

I just want people to stop playing the blame game we haven’t played good football at all in the execution from the coaches and the players has been subpar and that’s why we are struggling not because Josh Norman isn’t a Panther anymore. I bleed black and blue every season no matter the circumstances even if I’m frustrated that’s what we have to do Keep Pounding!!

 

 

 

 

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Carolina Panthers, NFL

Carolina Panthers keep core together in good offseason

The Carolina Panthers have had an interesting yet very productive off-season as they look to do something that’s never been done. No Super Bowl loser has returned to the big game the following season, that being said, I think the team is in better shape coming into 2016 with the return of Kelvin Benjamin and the team being one year older.

The biggest storyline was the organization’s decision to rescind the franchise tag of Pro bowl corner Josh Norman, which initially was a shocker, but I think it was a great decision because by letting Norman walk they opened up about 32 million dollars in cap space and they’ve put it to good use this off-season keeping the core of the team together with contract extensions. Additionally we’ve added veteran complimentary pieces that have enhanced the depth on the roster.

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The Offensive Line

The most important person to keep healthy on this team is quarterback Cam Newton because as Newton goes the team follows. That being said, it was important to keep consistency and depth within the offensive line. The team did that in a big way signing Ryan Kalil, and Michael Oher, to contract extensions they also added veteran center Gino Gradkowski improving the depth of a vital position on the football field.

Kalil has been one of the best centers in the game in his 10 years, he is a five-time Pro Bowler a stabilizing force for our team and the quarterbacks he’s worked with throughout his career. He’s also been very durable playing at least 10 games in seven seasons and starting all 16 games in five of those creating stability for everyone on the offense. He was rewarded with a two-year 16.75 contract extension virtually assuring he will finish his career as a lifelong panther as it should be.

Next, the team locked up right tackle Michael Oher, who had a breakout year, solidifying the left tackle position that was left in flux with the retirement of longtime Panther Jordan Gross. Oher was coming off a disappointing stint with the Titans where he was plagued by injury.

Despite the recent disappointments in Oher career, he made the seamless transition to the Panthers and played a vital role in protecting Cam Newton as we made our Super Bowl run. This off-season as Oher was weighing his options as a free agent Newton personally called Oher saying that he wanted him back in a panther uniform and the team felt the same as we signed Oher to a three-year 21.6 million dollar extension keeping the stability in front of our franchise quarterback.

Lastly, the team signed Gino Gradkowski as the backup center and possibly the eventual replacement for Kalil whenever he decides to hang them up. In his first two seasons with the ravens he started 15 of 16 games and all 16 games last two seasons, then fell off in his last two seasons split between Baltimore and Atlanta where he started eight games and four games respectively.

The last two seasons notwithstanding Gradkowski has proven he can be an effective NFL player and will be a serviceable backup Kalil. The Panthers have made sure this unit has stayed intact this off-season with the only question mark being the right tackle position between Mike Remmers and youngster Daryl Williams. The team has done an excellent job of finding the best combination to protect the MVP in Newton.

Carolina Panthers v San Diego Chargers

Mike Tolbert

The Panthers continued to take care of their own signing fullback Mike Tolbert to a two-year $4 million contract extension. Tolbert has been one of the most productive fullbacks in the league and since putting on a panther uniform he’s gotten even more effective because of the playmakers around him and he is taking full advantage.

This signing not only brings back a playmaker, but a familiar face that knows the protections and is a good blocker as well. Furthermore, it keeps the record-breaking offense in 2015 completely the same except the welcome addition of wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin who is returning from injury.

The team has made it a point to keep the chemistry and camaraderie of each unit as high as possible and bringing Tolbert back continues that theme and I expect us to be better than ever in 2016.

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JJ Jansen

One of the more underrated signings for the Panthers this off-season with locking up long snapper JJ Jansen to a five-year contract extension worth $5.5 million. To just the average football fan, this would seem like a waste of money, however one of the most important positions on the field that is many times overlooked.

Jansen has been with the Panthers since 2009 and over that period of time he’s handled over 1000 snaps whether that is on punts, field goals or extra points and has been rock solid handling over 600 attempts since his last misstep in 2010, knock on wood.

A position that I believe will start getting more recognition because field goals are longer and as we saw in the playoff game the Minnesota Vikings the snap matters. Jansen is a vital piece of the special teams unit, helping kicker Graham Gano confidence to just focus on his job making pressure packed kicks. Never having to worry about the  snap  because it’s going to be spot on. The team recognized Jansen importance and rewarded him accordingly, keeping the bomb squad intact for the foreseeable future.

The Defense

The Panthers also fortified one of the best defensive units in the NFL over the last couple of years and continued the theme of the off-season keeping the core guys together on each unit. They made three major moves increasing the depth at the defense of tackle position signing veteran Paul Soliai, who is another big body and is expected to be a great run stopper.

This seems to be a great fit because Soliai will be playing alongside his great friend Star Lotulelei. Not only will you be an asset for us on the field I think he will be a great addition to the locker room commodity because of the comfort level that comes when playing with a close friend. This team cares about quality football players and people they got both of those things with Soliai.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers

Charles Jonson

The next move was a bit of a shocker when the team was able to re-sign Charles Johnson to a one-year $3 million “prove it” deal after a disappointing 2015. A season that saw him tear his hamstring and then lose playing time to Jared Allen who was playing better after he came back from injury.

This was shocking that Johnson would even consider coming back to the Carolinas because of the money he was offered elsewhere, specifically with the Giants it was five years, but Johnson clearly wanted to stay in the Queen City because he almost fired his agent over his desire to stay in Charlotte that is clear loyalty and I respect that immensely.

Johnson was extremely unselfish in signing this deal it allowed the team to clear much-needed cap space. He showed exactly what he cared about and that is winning. Johnson coming back adds a familiar face and a veteran guy for the young up and comers to learn from. An asset that sometimes gets overlooked, but is extremely important for the growth of the players and the defense as a whole now and in the future.

This is a low risk high reward scenario for the Panthers because if they get the Pro bowl Charles Johnson or something remotely close to that the defense will be even more fierce and if not it doesn’t cost them a great deal financially. Also, they have a lot of good options to replace if he gets injured again or if he’s not effective. it’s a win-win deal for the organization. I hope he comes back stronger than ever, giving us another weapon for opponents to plan for.

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Kurt Coleman

The last move the team made was signing Kurt Coleman to a three-year $17 million contract extension. This move was a must, as Coleman has quickly becoming the quarterback of the secondary with the departures of Josh Norman, Charles Tillman and Roman Harper who went back to the Saints.

Coleman is coming off a breakout 2015 where he had 90 total tackles, 55 solo and more importantly seven interceptions. An amazing first impression for a guy I had no idea who he was when we signed him last off-season, but is quickly become one of my favorites because of the brutality and focus that he plays with.

As one of the veterans of the secondary his leadership is going to be crucial as the team is trying to get the three rookie cornerbacks comfortable in our system. I believe Coleman will play a vital part in their development while continuing to improve his great skills set.

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Ron Rivera

It wasn’t just the players that were taking care of this off-season, but head coach Ron Rivera was awarded a nice extension for his role in making the Panthers one the NFL’s best teams. He signed a three-year 19.5 million dollar extension making sure he will be in Carolina at least through the 2018 season.

It’s a well-deserved contract as he was one of the most underrated coaches in the NFL today. It wasn’t all roses and beginning, however some were calling for his head after a slow start to his coaching tenure. Then came the nickname Riverboat Ron taking chances going for it more than normal on fourth down, putting more trust in his player’s ability.

This resulted in the team playing more free and easy trusting themselves and because of that a lot of winning and consistent play has happened since the nickname arrived. He has led the Panthers to three straight division titles an NFC championship and has been named the NFL Coach of the year twice. He has brought honesty, consistency, and creativeness to the Panthers organization and I’m proud that he’s our coach.

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Conclusion

The Carolina Panthers have shown they pride themselves on his loyalty and high character players and personnel. The team took the $32 million cap space they got once Norman left and turned it into six contract extensions, ensuring the bulk of this roster stays the same for a long while. They also signed three veteran guys to low-cost contracts to add different abilities to this team.

So in all they turned one player in Josh Norman, who was going to require a max deal into nine players. Many of whom are vital to the success and chemistry of this team the lesson here is be loyal to Carolina they’ll be loyal to you. If not it’s okay will find quality players that want to be in the Queen city. Don’t mess with  GM Dave Gettleman he’s not afraid to play hardball. This team is set up for another Super Bowl run and I can’t wait for it to start.

 

 

MY FAVORITE PUMP UP VIDEO Will GET YOU FIRED UP!!!

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Carolina Panthers, NFL

The Carolina Panthers make the right call on Josh Norman

On Wednesday the Carolina Panthers sent shockwaves through the NFL world when they decided to rescind the franchise tag on cornerback Josh Norman. Making him an unrestricted free agent free to sign anywhere. Personally I think the Panthers made the right move in letting Norman walk and I think it will benefit the franchise presently and in the long run.

The Panthers sent a strong message with this move showing they will not be pushed around and/or mortgage the future success of the franchise for a player that doesn’t seem to have the right mindset for this organization. Especially with just one Pro bowl season and by all accounts a questionable attitude. Prior to last year’s breakout season Norman, if I recall correctly, he was in the doghouse with Coach Rivera and he didn’t play much his first couple of seasons. I understand a player wanting his payday after being productive on the field, but it was just one season and Norman’s asking price is absolutely ridiculous in my opinion.

He wants Patrick Peterson and Darrelle Revis type money asking for 16 million per year. Norman only has one great year under his belt where as Revis and Peterson have proven track records to be quality football players and shutdown corners. I’m not saying Norman isn’t a good player and may be worth that much someday, but right now there is no way. I know he didn’t get thrown at much the second half of the season after his torrid beginning, but I seem to remember some situations where he gambled and got burned  putting our defense in some bad spots.

Another big factor in his decision is his attitude it’s been reported that he was not the best locker room presence and that’s one thing I’ve learned since Gettleman’s arrival to the Panthers is a locker room chemistry is paramount and if that comes into question the “offender” is usually not a part of the long-term plan of the team. Norman’s attitude played a part in the contract negotiations and it was clear to Gettleman that a long-term contract was not feasible due to Norman’s demands.

The team was reportedly willing to give Norman 11 million per year, which isn’t too shabby, but sometimes a person’s true colors come out showing what he is really after. Instead of having the opportunity to win championships in the years to come Norman chose the greenbacks his choice and the Panthers were willing to oblige allowing him and his agent to explore a trade. When that didn’t work out they just cut ties with him altogether. Like I said I don’t fault a guy for wanting a big payday, but it seems he could have had the best of both worlds with the opportunity to win championships and make a good chunk of change in the process it is what it is best of luck to him.

Honestly the organization might be in better shape now they opened up 32 million in cap space. The team can shore up multiple areas of the roster and not have that money chewed up by one player; which could potentially handcuff the organization in the future when trying to add other players or re-sign our own. Speaking of keeping our own we can now lock up our core players like Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei to long-term deals to keep them in the Queen city for a while. I applaud the Panthers brass and ownership for sticking to their guns and not giving in!

Gettleman has proven he is not afraid to make the unthinkable move he doesn’t care what other people think he just does what’s best for the organization’s present and future. I’ll admit it was a shocking move, but I agree with it and I believe the Panthers will be better off and I’m excited to see what else he’s got up his sleeve to improve the team in the weeks to come.

 

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Carolina Panthers, NFL

Turning the Page: Poised to be Great Again

The Carolina Panthers fell a little short of the ultimate goal of hoisting the Lombardi trophy falling to the Denver Broncos 24-10. It was a game filled with what if’s and missed opportunities. I think I speak for all of Panther nation when I say I wish we could go back in time and fix the critical errors that ultimately cost us the game. However, that is not possible the worst thing about sports is someone has to lose and unfortunately we did not play up to our ability and suffered the consequences of that.

Despite the loss it was an incredible season to witness and be a part of! 2016 has a chance to be equally as amazing with a slightly different result at the end. The motivation couldn’t be higher for this organization to continue the journey to become the champion of the NFL! Here are three reasons it could be even better for the Panthers in 2016.

Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Return of Kelvin Benjamin

In sports, when one of your star players goes down with an injury, then returns it’s like making a big trade, but it doesn’t cost you anything. That’s going to happen for the Panthers next season as Kelvin Benjamin is set to return from his ACL injury he suffered in training camp before the season. It’s going to be a huge addition to an already potent offense.

In his rookie season he set records for receptions (73), yards (1008), and (9) touchdowns. This is going to be a huge shot in the arm and just another weapon for defenses to plan for. It’s a dream situation, I think because Cam Newton was able to build trust and confidence in his other wide receivers helping the entire offense mature and develop chemistry. Adding Benjamin to the mix creates mismatches and allows for creativity with the offense because defenses can’t double-team as frequently when Benjamin is on the football field.  The sky’s the limit for this offense, I can’t wait to see it!

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Another Year Older

The experience factor is just if not more important than the talent on the roster. This season so many young guys were able to gain valuable experience showing themselves and the coaching staff they belong. Those guys include Devin Funchess and Shaq Thompson rookies that were key contributors to our success. In Funchess’s case, he had to grow up a little faster due to injury and was able to do that making many important catches to help us win games. It’s going to be fun to see the twin towers Benjamin and Funchess develop into a great one-two punch with Greg Olsen, Ted Ginn JR, and Philly Brown alongside.

A lot of us were scratching our heads when we selected Thompson 25th overall out of the University of Washington. He has shown he has the ability to turn into a dynamic every down defender. He had some bone crushing hits this season that made me smile and understand why we made the selection. Those are just two young guys that benefited from great experience this season.

The experience was not only great for the rookies, but for the entire team from the top down. Experience shows you how to handle big moments, success and failure no one can take that away from them. Knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving, especially in football because you can go into your memory bank and see how you handled a situation on or off the field. Making them better prepared when they are in that situation again.

Being a year older will greatly benefit everyone that’s a part of this team on and off the field it’s amazing what experience will do for football players. The Panthers will benefit greatly from what they experienced this year!

DAVE_GETTLEMAN_06Young Core

Lastly, this roster is built for the long run with our core players being young starting with quarterback Cam Newton (26) and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (24) captains of the offense and defense respectively.

This team has built well through the draft in recent years Newton and Kuechly included, but here are some other guys that have developed into great NFL players and will be around for a while. Defensive tackles Kawann Short (27),  Star Lotulelei (26), Cornerback Josh Norman (28). Those are just a handful of guys that are just entering their prime and shows you can build a winner through the draft as we have.

I’m really hoping we are able to lock up these guys because they are really good and like GM Dave Gettleman said “I don’t want to develop these guys for other teams.” I’m very confident that we will be able to get those deals done while continuing to make improvements to our roster. Gettleman has the pulse of the team and understands what we need to make it over that last hurdle. It’s been exciting to see us develop this winning culture over the past handful of seasons. The Queen City will be roaring once again in 2016 I have no doubt. Go Panthers! Keep Pounding!

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Carolina Panthers, NFL

Top 5 takeaways from Panthers vs Saints

The Carolina Panthers made us fans sweat again today a remarkable interception by Josh Norman helped preserve the 27-22 victory over the Luke Mccown led Saints to improve to 3-0 on the year! Here are my top five takeaways from the action in the Queen City!

1  Cam Newton was Superman again

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This was the best overall performance by offense overcoming another slow start and erasing a 10-point deficit! The offensive line had another great performance, giving Cam Newton clean pockets enabling him to shred the Saints defense. He was 20 for 31 for 315 yards, two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown using all the tools in his tool belt to help lead this team to victory. 

He didn’t have to run a lot, but when he did it was effective converting to big fourth downs and one Houdini like escape to convert a key third-down! Here is a stat for you 41% of the time Cam Newton runs the ball; he converts a first down very impressive! He also didn’t have to overcome many drops I only remember one by backup tight end Ed Dickson that was the biggest improvement I saw in the offense this week.

Cam Newton looked very confident and I didn’t cringe like I usually do when he throws off his back foot because I didn’t see that today and when he’s smiling we are unstoppable I like this offense it’s fun to watch! We are going to need similar performances in the weeks to come when competition stiffens and I believe we can do that with the amount of confidence we are exhibiting after the  game.

2  Greg Olsen’s Career Day 

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A huge contributor to  the big offensive day  was Mr. reliable tight end Greg Olsen, who had eight catches for a career-high 134 yards and two touchdowns! He took the Saints defense to school specifically cornerback Brandon Browner running right past him for a 52 yard chunk play that sparked the offense!

 The Saints left him wide open on many plays, all I can say is thank you, much appreciated! I continue to say this he is one of the best tight ends in the league;he is the veteran presence this offense needs with all the young players; Sunday his play seemed to rub off on the other receivers and opening up big plays for the offense!

Great execution all around and once again thank you to the Chicago Bears for giving us Greg Olsen! I anticipate the much of the same he might not have the record days that he had today, but opponents will have to account for him on every down opening up plays for our other playmakers; he will still get his numbers trust me he is too good!

3  Searching for a Pass Rush

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There are a few concerns despite the victory the biggest being that we were unable to generate pressure against the quarterback Luke McCown allowing him to scan the field and find the holes in our secondary because they had to cover for long periods of time. McCown was 31 for 38 for 310 yards and that remarkable interception by Norman to seal the victory for the Panthers!

However, if this team wants to continue winning football games our pass rush must improve because we are going to be facing a gauntlet of quarterbacks in the coming weeks Andrew luck, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson to name a few. If it doesn’t get better soon we could in a world of hurt if we can’t get to the opposing quarterback. We also suffered a big loss on that front seven as defensive end Charles Johnson to a hamstring injury and the team fears he could miss several weeks a huge blow to a team that relies on the front seven so much.

Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott is going to have to get creative with his play calling to amp up the pass rush if we want to continue our winning ways! I have no doubt we will look for reinforcements and find a way to get the quarterback on the ground anyway possible!

4.  Sign Josh  Norman to a Contract Extension Now

Lions Panthers Football

Forget Revis Island now beware Lake Norman  in three games he already has two interceptions one for a touchdown and a fumble recovery!  He is now a top corner in the NFL no doubt about it and I know 31 teams that would like to  rethink not drafting Norman  and he plays angry and with a chip on the shoulder because of that!  The Carolina Panthers have found themselves a star and they can’t let him slip away he needs to be signed now because he will be the most sought after corner if he hits the free-agent market.

I trust that our front office will get this deal done making sure he is in Carolina blue for a long time. I’m glad easing Carolina blue this year because I love seeing him once again ruin  all-pro wide receivers days it’s so much fun!

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5 Too many Penalties Again 

I hope this is the last time I have to talk about as having too many penalties shooting ourselves in the foot helping the opponents gain momentum. We had 10 penalties for 88 yards  its really fixable and I hope the coaching staff will continue to preach smart play and doing away with the silly mental errors that end up making the fans and coaches  want to pull their hair out!  We just have to be a lot smarter in the coming weeks because we are playing quarterbacks with great instincts and could really take  advantage of those silly mistakes.

 Conclusion

 The offense carried was awesome today putting up 431 total yards shredding the Saints much-maligned defense led by Rob Ryan! We looked the best we have in a while and the offensive line was a big reason why again like I said last week it looks like the biggest weakness coming into the season has been our biggest strength; keeping Newton upright is a big key to our success we did that today. 

The defense did enough forcing two turnovers and obviously the game clinching interception, but like I said the pass rush must improve if we want to continue winning football games! I saw a lot of good things in the game it was fun to watch!! The only thing that matters is we are 3-0, let’s make it 4-0 GO Panthers!!

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Carolina Panthers, Top 10 List

Top 10 Carolina Panthers Right Now

Football season is thankfully right around the corner with a buzz back in the Carolinas about this season; despite some crushing injuries has me very excited to see what this team can do in 2015. In honor of the start of the season, here are my top 10 Panthers right now! Do you agree?

1.  Luke Kuechly

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This is a pretty easy choice for me because in four years in the league, he has become the best middle linebacker in the NFL! We drafted him ninth overall out of Boston College in 2012; I didn’t know much about them, but what I’ve learned is he is a tackling machine and an animal on the football field! In his short career, he has already won the defensive rookie of the year and the NFL defensive player of the year award also he led the league in tackles last season with 153! In total he already has 453 tackles and seven interceptions, which leads the team. He is the leader of this defense flying around the football field every down.

He is in opposing coaches and quarterbacks nightmares because he has a nonstop motor and will do anything to help this team win. The newly elected Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian said, “He is the Peyton Manning of defenses” that just shows you how much respect and admiration people outside of the Panthers organization show to him. Not only is he amazing on the football field, he is one of the most personable guys you will ever listen to and has a great head on his shoulders that is kind of hard to find in the NFL today. He is the total package on the field and off the field. I am so glad the Panthers drafted him because our defense would definitely not be where it is without him that is why he tops my list!

2. Cam Newton 

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Newton has been a spark plug for this offense since being drafted first overall in 2011. Announcing his presence quickly winning the offensive rookie of the year in 2012 showing the Panthers made the right choice. He has offered great stability and playmaking ability while putting up video game type numbers and making defenders look silly; in his career he has 14,426 passing yards and 82 touchdowns. He also is a threat with his legs with 2,571 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns, amazing that one human being can affect a game in so many ways. Let’s just say I am happy he is in Carolina blue for many years to come.

He also is a great leader and my favorite part about him is that he is one of the most passionate and intense quarterbacks that I’ve ever watched play. People don’t like when he pouts when things aren’t going well, but that just means he cares so much and wants to win every play and every game. I respect that greatly and don’t care what the haters say they’re just upset he is not on their team. Superman is going to be better than ever in 2015 and I can’t wait to watch him shred defenses. He is the most important part of our offense, when he goes we go!

3. Thomas Davis 

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Thomas Davis is entering his 11th season with the Carolina Panthers and he has been a great leader and even better player! He is one of the best linebackers in the NFL today and an inspiration for every football player that goes through any adversity Davis has torn his ACL three times and come back better than ever each and every time. Here’s what I mean last season he had 100 tackles and two forced fumbles and in his career, he has 730 tackles 13 forced fumbles and six interceptions! Amazing what he’s been able to do on the football field and now with Luke Kuechly the Carolina Panthers have the best linebacker duo in the NFL and I don’t think it’s close. He is definitely the veteran leader that helped lead this defense for years and I’m glad he will be in Carolina blue for the remainder of his career!

What he has done on the football field speaks for is great, but what he does for the fans and the community is even better! He helps the Carolinas thrive with he and his family’s charitable organizations, that allows families and children to have a place to learn and develop a bright future for them. He is so kind with his time and wants to see kids succeed; he will do anything to help foster that. For that he was awarded the 2015 Man of the year award and it couldn’t have happened to a better person.

4. Kelvin Benjamin

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The Carolina Panthers found themselves a star in Kelvin Benjamin drafting him 28th overall in the 2014 draft. We took him 28th overall I think he has already become a steal for the Panthers and Dave Gettleman who is a great evaluator of talent. He took the NFL by storm, becoming quarterback Cam Newton’s favorite target right away and for good reason; setting Panther rookie records for receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns with 79 catches 1008 yards and nine touchdowns.

Unfortunately, Benjamin suffered a torn ACL in camp while this is a huge blow for the Panthers in the immediate future, I believe Benjamin will come back better than ever! He has so much talent and skill he won’t be down for long. We will have the pleasure of hearing Newton to Benjamin for the touchdown for many years to come I’m very excited about that! He may not be able to play this year, but he has the opportunity to develop into a great leader and help this team any way he can while getting healthy.  He may be young, but he is going to be a stud in this league that is why he is number four on my list!

5. Greg Olsen 

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Greg Olsen is entering his fifth season with the Carolina Panthers and become the most underrated tight end in the league in my opinion. He has no doubt become old reliable for quarterback Cam Newton to play breaks down or he just needs to find his rhythm. Olsen is coming off his best year as a pro with 84 receptions for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns that productivity resulted in his first Pro bowl selection. In 2015 I predict much of the same, especially with the loss of Kelvin Benjamin and the sudden inexperience at the wide receiver position. Thank you Chicago Bears for giving us one of the best tight ends in football much appreciated!  He will also provide great veteran leadership for the young guys and help them develop and learn on the job.

 Jonathan Stewart 

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Stewart is entering his eighth season with the Panthers; first as the feature back as Deangelo Williams is now with the Steelers. Stewart is a bruiser when running the ball, he just keeps those legs going to fight for every inch. He also is a great pass catcher on screen passes or if the play breaks down. He has great ability to take those short passes and turn them into big gainers. A great compliment to Newton, who is also a dual threat this combination could be very effective this season. Last season was a decent year he rushed for 809 yards and three touchdowns he also caught a touchdown as well. This season just feels like a breakout year for Stewart being the lead dog taking command of the running game in 2015 leading this young group to the promised land.

He has had a solid career thus far averaging 4.6 yards per rush and 30 total touchdowns. He is a guy that floats under the radar, but this year he has a great opportunity to take the NFL by storm and become one of the top running backs in 2015! I’m excited to see how he takes to this new role because the Panthers success is predicated on good defense and a solid running game if we have both of those this season we are going to be tough to beat!

7. Mike Tolbert 

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Mike Tolbert is entering his fourth season with the Carolina Panthers he is not your average fullback catching passes out of the backfield running on short yardage situations and being the lead blocker in the running game. At 5’9 250 pounds Tolbert is like tackling a tree and is a matchup nightmare for defenses in many different ways. Last season was cut short due to injury and the running game suffered mightily after that, but back in fully healthy “Tub of Goo” is back and ready to dominate. He has had a very underrated career with 533 rushing attempts for 2,032 yards and 32 touchdowns pretty good for a fullback! I hope to see more of those great dance moves in 2015 that means we are scoring a lot of points!

8. Charles Johnson

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Charles Johnson is entering his ninth season with the Carolina Panthers he is one of the most important pieces to our defense wreaking havoc in the opponents back fields becoming a pain in the neck for opposing quarterbacks. Last season was a solid year, despite nagging injuries he had 41 tackles, three forced fumbles and 8 1/2 sacks. He has had a great career as well with 267 total tackles, 16 forced fumbles, and 62 1/2 sacks. He is the key for our pass rush and helping out the secondary which has been suspect in past years however it has gotten better! Although, this defense has many good players Johnson is a person that we can ill afford to lose with depth being an issue and Kony Ealy being a young guy.

As long as Johnson can stay relatively healthy, he will have a great year for this vaunted Carolina defense. He honestly could be higher on this list, but we have so many quality players it’s hard to separate them, but he is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL for a third round pick, he has definitely become a steal for the Carolina Panthers!

9. Ryan Kalil 

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Ryan Kalil is entering his tenth year with the Panthers it was important for me to put him on this list because he has been the glue to our offensive line in protecting the quarterback and creating a rhythm for the offense game after game.He is also very durable in five of his nine seasons, he has started all 16 games and in his career, he has started 103 games, giving an offensive line that has been a revolving door over the past few years great stability. He is a great veteran for all of our young players to learn from!  This team has veteran sprinkled throughout the roster that can help the young guys no matter what position they play!

10. Josh Norman 

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Josh Norman is entering his fifth season with the Carolina Panthers and he has become one of the best shutdown corners in the NFL! He was drafted in the fifth round out of Coastal Carolina; I think he is upset that he was overlooked for that long because he plays with a chip on his shoulder every game. He has become our mini Steve Smith because of the fire, he plays with on every play and he will take no crap from any wide receiver he goes against!

Last season was a solid one for Norman with 48 tackles one forced fumble and one interception. he looks to build on that solid season paired with the veterans we added this off-season Kurt Coleman, Charles Tillman and Roman Harper are secondary looks like it’s going to be a strength being led by Josh Norman in 2015! if I had to rank Josh Norman at 10 you know we have great players on our team and I’m excited to see what we will be able to do!

Conclusion

This was a really tough list for me to put together, but this just shows you the quality talent the Carolina Panthers have been able to draft and acquire throughout the years! Not only do we have great players, but we have great people that care about his fan base and community and the way the NFL is today that is a great aspect of this team! Hope you enjoy Go Panthers!

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Carolina Panthers

Keep your heads up Panther Nation

The Carolina Panthers suffered a devastating blow as standout wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL in his knee in Wednesday’s joint practice with the Dolphins. When I heard this news a pretty good mood turned sour quickly; accepting the reality we will be without our best wide receiver all year a hard pill to swallow. Benjamin to the NFL by storm last season, setting Panther rookie records for receptions, yards and touchdowns. That production won’t be replaced by anyone doesn’t matter who we put out there! Sports stop for no one and we must turn this unfortunate situation into a positive. 

Benjamin has youth on his side and is one of the hardest working players out there!! I expect him to come back better than ever like we’ve  seen before 😏! He will be able to grow as a leader for this team and be the best teammate anyone could ask for! Get well soon KB.

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This team has been through so much adversity over the past few seasons, whether that was Cam Newton’s car accident or coach Rivera’s house fire we were able to rally together as a team and win football games. I don’t see why this would be any different yes, we lost one of our best players, but we still have quality wide receivers that will work to fill the void.

Corey Brown is now slated as our number one wide receiver he is another young guy with tons of speed. Ted Ginn is a veteran guy that also has tons of speed. Along with the speedsters we have Rookie Devin Funchess who is 6’5 and already shown the ability to make great catches. He is just a rookie, but I feel with the guys he has around them he will be a big target for Newton as the season progresses. We also have tight end old reliable Greg Olsen who catches everything and Jerricho Cotchery two veterans that will keep the guys heads up and be another reliable targets for Newton. Brenton Bersin is a local product from Wofford College he will have a larger role in the offense due to the injury. He is 6’3 and has made some good catches for us over the past couple of seasons, but what I worry about is he seems to have the case of the drops at times. Despite that he is another option for us at the wide receiver position.

This position doesn’t have the same firepower as it did with Benjamin in the lineup, but we still have weapons and they are professionals and understand they must step up. Don’t forget we have one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the league and a great stable of running backs that will help this offense be the best it can be. I still think we will have a good offense that will give opposing defenses fits because of the multiple looks we can throw at them.

Defense wins Champions

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Another reason we need to relax is because we have one of the best defenses in the league! We have the best middle linebacker combination in Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly wreaking havoc in the opponents back fields. Bill Polian said Luke Kuechly is “the Peyton Manning of defenses” that praise is definitely warranted in his four years in the NFL he already has 453 tackles and seven interceptions absolutely ridiculous! Thomas Davis has himself overcome three ACL surgeries and come back better than ever. Those two guys are enough for me to still be confident in what this team can accomplish despite the recent blow on the offensive side of the ball. Along with Davis and Kuechly we have great complementary players including Charles Johnson, Josh Norman, Bene Benwikere and many more. 

We can’t forget there is another side of the ball and it’s a team effort; last time I checked the only thing that matters is scoring more than your opponent. Our defense can line up with anybody and I am excited to see what we can do.

Take a deep Breath

Let’s not press the panic button yet I know it’s a crushing blow, but  injuries are part of the game we can do anything about them! We still have a good team that will rally together to win football games. Every season every team goes through some type of adversity before getting to the promise land this is no different!! As a few fans have echoed I hear Sam Mills right now saying KEEP POUNDING!!!! I have every confidence in this team can’t wait for the season to  start. Go Panthers!!

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