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New Head Coach, new Quarterback, a new era. The Panthers will be looking to move on from the Cam Newton era in 2020. The Panthers have a young nucleus to work around with key youth in the skill positions. Will first-year head coach Matt Rhule be able to lead this young team and shock the world? In this season preview, I’ll go through each position on the offensive side of the ball and outline the expectations for 2020.
Quarterback: It’s Teddy Bridgewater time in Charlotte. Teddy Bridgewater guided the Saints to an impressive 5-0 record last season after Drew Brees went down with an injury. Many wonder if it was the system that allowed Bridgewater to thrive, throwing for only around 154 yards a game. Though, his passing rating (not to be confused with QBR) was at 99.1 and passed for nine touchdowns and only two interceptions.
The Panthers desperately need Bridgewater to ignite this offense. Last season, quarterback Kyle Allen was 29th out of 30 eligible Quarterbacks in QBR. He posted a measly 38.3 QBR. With Christian McCaffrey running the ball and a very solid WR corps, Bridgewater will have the opportunity to continue his success with his one-time NFC South foe.
I’d expect Bridgewater to put up relatively average stats in 2020, but that’s really all the Panthers should need.
Running Back: Are you seriously reading about the running back for the Carolina Panthers? Are you even a Panthers fan? It’s Christian McCaffrey. Top two in the league and he ain’t two. Shoutout Drizzy. McCaffrey led all runnings backs last season in total yards. Dalvin Cook was not a close second, a solid 30+ yards behind McCaffrey.
McCaffrey will remain the focal point of this offense, rightfully so… but with the addition of Bridgewater, the entire offense won’t be square on McCaffrey’s shoulders.
Mike Davis, the local RB out of South Carolina, will back McCaffrey up. With only 13 carries in 2019, it will be interesting to see if Davis can handle the duties behind McCaffrey. In 2018, Davis had success running the ball for the Seattle Seahawks. Davis had an impressive 4.6 yards per carry at the RB2 position.
Overall, expect an explosive running game for the Panthers. As long as Christian McCaffrey is Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers will be more than okay.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: With the addition of Robby Anderson, the Panthers have a very very solid receiving corps. D.J. Moore will look to continue his success after catching 87 passes and tallying 1,175 yards in 2019. Curtis Samuel also had a very impressive 2019 season. Robby Anderson, the veteran of the group at age 27… will look to bounce back from his 2019 season. Anderson only caught 52 passes in 16 games. Tight End Ian Thomas is the favorite to replace long-time great Greg Olson. Thomas started three games for the Panthers in 2019 and caught 16 passes for only one touchdown so the Panthers do have more questions than answers at the TE position in 2020.
Overall, this passing game with Bridgewater and company should have the opportunity to have a pretty decent year and take the pressure off of McCaffrey.
Offensive Line: In 2019, the offensive line allowed a league-high 58 sacks, but were at least able to pave the way for McCaffrey to have a big year. The Panthers are hoping to improve their pass protection with the addition of LT Russell Okung. Okung and center Matt Paradis will look to lead this young group of offensive linemen.
Overall, they can’t be worse in pass protection than last year, right? Right? Hopefully… look for this group to improve slightly in its pass protection, ideally giving Bridgewater the chance to lead this offense.
Panthers fans should be very excited about the potential of this offense in 2020. Adding Teddy Bridgewater and Robby Anderson is a very big step in the right direction for diversifying this offense around Christian McCaffrey.
Be on the lookout for my defensive preview for this young Panthers team.