Sunday, August 9, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- Carolina Panthers
2008 RECORD: 12-4
HEAD COACH: John Fox
Key Additions: OL Justin Geisinger (FA/Redskins) WR Marcus Monk (FA)
Key Losses: OL Frank Omiyale (FA/Bears) DT Gary Gibson (FA/Rams) WR D.J. Hackett (FA) WR Mark Jones (FA/Titans) CB Ken Lucas (FA/Seahawks)
Offense: The Panthers return their "smash and dash" duo of running backs Jonathon Stewart and DeAngelo Williams for the 2009 season.
These two guys combined to rush for nearly 2,400 yards between them last season. Williams ran for 1,515 yards and had 18 rushing touchdowns to go along with a 5.5 yards per carry average. Stewart had 836 yards and 10 TDs while gaining 4.5 yards per carry.
Quarterback Jake Delhomme wasn't too shabby either (until the playoffs) as he threw for 3,288 yards and 15 touchdowns along with 12 interceptions. Josh McCown is the backup quarterback.
The wide receivers include Steve Smith (78 catches in '08 for 1,421 yards and six TDs with a 18.2 ypc average) and Mushin Muhammad, who at age 36 shows he still has plenty left in the tank after posting 65 catches for 923 yards and five TDs in 2008.
The Tight End is Jeff King and backup receivers include Dante Rosario, Ryne Robinson, Marcus Monk and Dwayne Jarrett.
The offensive line features Ryan Kalil at center, Jeff Otah and Jordan Gross at the tackle positions and guards Travelle Wharton and Keydrick Vincent.
Defense: Julius Peppers anchors this 4-3 defense and is joined up front by Maake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis at tackles and Everette Brown at defensive end. Peppers registered 14.5 sacks to lead the Panthers in '08.
The linebackers will be Na'il Diggs (strong side LB), Thomas davis on the weak side and John Beason in the middle.
The secondary (only 12 interceptions in 2008) has Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall at the cornerback spots while Chris Harris and Charles Godfrey will be the safeties.
Backups on the defense, which ranked 18th overall a year ago, includes Charles Johnson, Nick Hayden, James Anderson, Dan Conner, Sherrod Martin, Quinton Teal, C.J. Wilson and Nate Salley.
OUTLOOK: The Panthers were consistent through most of the regular season in 2008, until opposing teams starting scoring seemingly at will to force a lot of "shoot out" type games in four of the final five games.
The Panthers have a solid offense with a great running attack (third in the NFL with a 152 yards per game average in '08) and barring injury, expect more of the same this season.
Delhomme showed vulnerability in the playoff loss against Arizona when he was picked off six times in the game. At 34, he isn't getting any younger and he was coming off elbow injuries from 2007. But he is a gamer who will do all he can for the team to win.
If Smith and Muhammad can produce like they did a year ago, that will definitely be a huge lift for the team once again. The Panthers need more out put from the reserves on offense.
Defensively, Head Coach John Fox knows his team cannot afford to play the way they did during the final six weeks, including the playoffs.
Carolina selected three defensive players in the first three rounds of the draft last spring to help stop the bleeding that was happening far too often at the conclusion of 2008.
For this team to make it back to the playoffs again and possibly advance, the defense has to step up and the offense needs to do more of what it did last season. Anything better than 10 wins would be considered solid, but this team faces a tough schedule and the likelihood is a 9-7 finish and no post-season in 2009.
Week 1- vs. Philadelphia (Sept. 13)
Week 2- at Atlanta (Sept. 20)
Week 3- at Dallas (Sept. 27)
Week 4- BYE WEEK
Week 5- vs. Washington (Oct. 11)
Week 6- at Tampa Bay (Oct. 18)
Week 7- vs. Buffalo (Oct. 25)
Week 8- at Arizona (Nov. 1)
Week 9- at New Orleans (Nov. 8)
Week 10- vs. Atlanta (Nov. 15)
Week 11- vs. Miami (Nov. 19)
Week 12- at NY Jets (Nov. 29)
Week 13- vs. Tampa Bay (Dec. 6)
Week 14- at New England (Dec. 13)
Week 15- vs. Minnesota (Dec. 20)
Week 16- at NY Giants (Dec. 27)
Week 17- vs. New Orleans (Jan. 3)