Can the Carolina Panthers continue to win in 2019

The Carolina Panthers had some admirable success in 2017 with an 11-5
record, which was good for 2nd in their division. And – their defense
played very good for them with big stops and relentless attaching
ability.  The 37 year old Julius Peppers hammered home 11 sacks which
ranked in the top 12 in the NFL, along with 12 tackles for loss, and
added 2 forced fumbles as well. Peppers and his 30 yr old partner,
Mario Addison, made a formidable duo to deal with on the front for the
Panthers. They had corralled 44% of the 50 sack total in 2017. Their
presence was felt. And in 2019 – Mario Addison has connected for 5.5
sacks, and has been around 28% of sacks for the Panthers sack defense
himself this year. They have also really created a daunting LB duo in
Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson – and they aren’t slowing down by any
means. As of this article, they are sitting at 84 combined tackles.

Their 23 year old RB Christian McCaffrey has shown he has the
exceptional  ability to scorch a LB, or a DB on a moments notice, as
shown by his 3 big plays (runs for 20+ yards) this season so far.
Which puts him tied for 4th in the league. He is tops in the NFL for
RBs with 94+ carries at a whopping 5.6 YPC – and tops in the NFL at
587 rushing YDs. With him – the unearthed QB Kyle Allen has a skilled
and deadly RB to hand the ball to.
McCaffrey has far surpassed expectations, in my opinion. I thought he
may not have the running skills to be a truly successful RB in the
NFL. I couldn’t have been more wrong. He broke into the league in the
2017 season, and ran for just 435 YDs, and 2 TDs on the ground. He had
a low ended 3.7 YDs/carry, but his speed was almost unmatched. This
season, McCaffrey has been dynamic with big runs and a skirting
ability to avoid hits – and he is still getting better. And he is
still developing his game, his explosiveness and vision has been ideal
and always is a threat when pounding the ball on the ground where he
also has picked up 21 first downs, and 17 through the air, as well.

Head Coach Ron Rivera has done a lot to help the scoring issues for
the offensive side of the ball – he has a strong coaching style that
keeps his guys motivated and moving forward. In recent drafts they
picked up McCaffrey in 2017, which was their trademark move – and
snagging WR D.J. Moore and DE Brian Burns with their draft picks in
2018 and 2019 were great moves, that should set them up for years of
success.

Carolina has to finish games and keep the foot on the gas, when the
clock is melting away. They need some better clutch production, and
these are things that need to be addressed. Rivera can also look at
those raw examples of what happened as to how far the team has come.
As long as he keeps the team motivated and focused, the Panthers can
use tough losses, and it should help them as far as what they can do –
it’s all about confidence  their team, and staying true to themselves.

The ingredients for great success are certainly there, for an agile
defense, a defense that can get them enough stops when needed, and
stop teams from abusing them on the field. The Panthers team has a
unit full of athletic, skilled players who know how to handle their
defensive responsibilities and when they get the opened up freedom
within the defense they can surprise teams with a very sure pass rush
and disrupting opponents with their physical play. They are a team
that can generate sacks and stop drives vs good teams, especially in
the division. The Falcons are playing poorly, with a team that oddly
enough, clearly cant score the ball. Jameis Winston is still figuring
things out – at 25 years old, and noticeably lacks leadership ability.
Drew Brees is obviously the best QB in the division, but has been
injured.

The biggest question mark for me is their QB position. Cam Newton has
bombed with his decision making – and as been on the back slope for
the last 5 games, going into the end of last year – and quite
honestly, him being out with a Lisfranc injury has created a
completely different vibe and cutting dynamic for the team. Kyle Allen
has been a great improvement from Cam Newton – who was making bad
throw after bad throw. Allen has made better decisions, hands down.
but, the 23 yr old QB does not have a ton of experience, obviously,
and through 3 games played, 2 of his games played, he has thrown for
235 or less yards passing – and he needs to get better with moving the
ball downfield – improving on his 3.5 air yards/pass attempt.

Expectations for Carolina Panthers so far are hesitant – at 3-2 they
are 2nd in their division, but foremost, have shown they can compete.
Carolina is a team that is going to be a lot of fun to watch for the
next several seasons, as their Head Coach is fortunate to have players
like McCaffrey and Luke Kuechly to handle the paramount
responsibilities of being the teams leaders for the future.

The keys to what will get the Carolina Panthers to that elite level is
getting bigger production from their young QB, and keeping their
aggressive defensive style

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