Head Coach: Ron Rivera
2012 Record: 7-9-0 (2nd in NFC South)
New Players: CB Drayton Florence; WR/KR Ted Ginn, Jr.; CB D.J. Moore; WR Domenik Hixon; LB Chase Blackburn.
Gone Elsewhere: WR Louis Murphy; CB Chris Gamble; LB James Anderson; LB Jason Phillips.
Offense: The Panthers offense hinges on the success of quarterback Cam Newton, who in his second year in the NFL threw for 3,869 yards and 19 touchdown passes with 12 interceptions. Newton also ran for 741
|QB Cam Newton|
The running duo of DeAngelo Williams (737 yards rushing with five TD) and Jonathan Stewart (336 yards rushing in only nine games played) has to get back to their old form of a few years ago to relieve the pressure on Newton. Goal line specialist Mike Tolbert (183 yards and seven touchdowns) is also back in the fold for the 2013 season.
|WR Steve Smith|
(44, 677, four TD) and tight end Greg Olsen, who made 69 receptions for 843 yards and five touchdowns. Domenik Hixon (39, 567, two TD) left the New York Giants and will be another target for Newton this season. WR/KR Ted Ginn, Jr. is also on hand to help out when needed.
The line will have tackles Jordan Gross and Byron Bell, center Ryan Kalil and guards Amini Silatolu and Geoff Hangartner.
Defense: Carolina finished tenth in the league in defense in 2012, allowing 333 yards per game while yielding an average of 22.7 points per game.
Up front for the Panthers in the 4-3 scheme are tackles Dwan Edwards (six QB sacks) and rookie Star Lotulelei (Utah) along with ends Greg Hardy (ten sacks) and Charles Johnson, who finished third in the NFC with 12 1/2 quarterback sacks.
The linebackers are Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly and Jon Beason. Chase Blackburn and Jordan Senn will be ready to go as well.
The secondary has Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Norman at the corners while Charles Godfrey and Haruki Nakamura play the safety spots. Adding depth is free agent newcomer Drayton Florence, who has been around the block in his 11-year career. D.J. Moore (two INT with Chicago in 2012) and Mike Mitchell are also available.
OUTLOOK: After finishing the 2012 season on a four-game winning streak and sparing Head Coach Ron Rivera his job, the Panthers would like to continue that momentum this season.
The defense picked it up a notch last year and with a solid core intact up front, the Panthers should once again rank high on the defensive side of the ball.
With Newton and Smith in the fold offensively, the Panthers can certainly light up the scoreboard. They need to do it on a consistent basis in 2013 if they want to contend in the NFC South, where high scoring teams aplenty reside.
The key just might be the running game as Williams and Stewart MUST get back to the play they displayed during the 2008-2009 seasons when they were a feared tandem and referred to as "smash and dash" for they style they displayed on the field.
The schedule is tough and going against the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice is no easy task either.
The call here is for the Panthers to finish 6-10 while being a competitive team throughout the 2013 season, but that might not be enough for Ron Rivera to keep his job.
Sept. 8- vs. Seattle
Sept. 15- at Buffalo
Sept. 22- vs. NY Giants
Sept. 29- BYE WEEK
Oct. 6- at Arizona
Oct. 13- at Minnesota
Oct. 20- vs. St. Louis
Oct. 24- at Tampa Bay
Nov. 3- vs. Atlanta
Nov. 10- at San Francisco
Nov. 18- vs. New England
Nov. 24- at Miami
Dec. 1- vs. Tampa Bay
Dec. 8- at New Orleans
Dec. 15- vs. NY Jets
Dec. 22- vs. New Orleans
Dec. 29- at Atlanta