NFC South Scouting Report: The Carolina Panthers
By John Hendrix
Since the formation of the NFC South in 2002, the New Orleans Saints have found themselves doing battle with the Carolina Panthers twice a year. It hasn’t always been pretty, but it’s typically been entertaining. The Panthers hold a 21-19 all-time series lead over the black and gold, which includes an 8-10 record in the Sean Payton era.
We continue our NFC South focus, and check in on the Carolina Panthers. We teamed up with Cat Crave editor Chris Schafer, and look at a few things from their offseason.
How do you feel about the Panthers offseason? What areas did they improve the most in? Where would you have liked to see them improve more?
"The offseason was ideal – a normal Dave Gettleman offseason. He signs those who seem to be under the radar, or past their prime, and those players excel. Bringing back Ted Ginn Jr. was huge for special teams. The addition of Michael Oher is a major plus, being that he cannot only fill a void, but also teach being a veteran."
Cam Newton has been under pressure constantly, and has had a lot of sacks as a result. The Panthers brought in Michael Oher, and took a few other steps. Can they keep Cam upright?
"Under pressure only because the offensive line has struggled pretty much since the retirement of Jordan Gross. However, think of how many POTENTIAL sacks Cam Newton could have taken, but instead he makes plays with his feet to either get out of the jam and run the ball, or create time to find the open receiver. Lots of other quarterbacks take the sack."
The defense has remained a strong point of the team, what do you see them doing this season?
"The front seven will again be strong, and the addition of Shaq Thompson only brings a greater dimension. KK (Kawann Short) and Star Lotulelei provide for a huge push in the passing game and wall in the running game against defenses."
Shaq Thompson was a bit of a head scratcher for some as a first round pick, what has he brought to the table so far? Where do you see the team using him most? I wonder why you think a head scratcher of a pick.
"If you read my article before the draft, you will see I predicted him to be the pick. He was finishing up school and now that is finished he will be focused fully on the playbook and be able to learn behind Thomas Davis."
What’s this team’s biggest weakness right now?
"None right now – ask me again after training camp to see if any injuries happened to cause a hole."
Repeating as a division winner wasn’t something to happen until last season. Can the Panthers do it again? If not, who wins the NFC South? Where do you see the team finishing out?
"We will repeat, or should I say 3-peat!"
The Panthers and Saints are set to collide early in the season in Charlotte during Week 3 of the regular season. The Saints will host the Carolina Panthers during the first week of December in Week 13.