To put it plainly, the Panthers are bad. Coming into 2020, the NFC South has the potential to be the most difficult division in football featuring Tom Brady and the revamped Buccaneers, the always potent Saints and the Falcons. All three of these teams have legitimate chances of making the playoffs.
And then there’s Carolina, the lone rebuilding franchise in the division. In their past two seasons, the Panthers have declined from seven wins in 2018 to five wins in 2019 after going 11-5 in 2017. Former head coach Ron Rivera was let go at the end of 2019. Cam Newton, the former league MVP and first overall pick, is gone, as are Luke Kuechly, Greg Olsen and Thomas Davis.
A once promising nucleus of players that rattled off three straight division championships and a Super Bowl appearance from 2013-2015 has dispersed, leaving the Panthers in transition with a new quarterback, new head coach and a host of new faces looking to get Carolina back on the map.
Former LSU offensive coordinator Joe Brady arrives in Charlotte as the Panthers’ new head coach with the opportunity to build around running back Chrsitian McCaffrey, the one reliable commodity in Carolina.
Outside of the former Stanford star, the roster is thin for the Panthers, leaving the run game as the team’s identity. The Carolina offense operates through McCaffrey, who in 2019 rushed for nearly 1,400 yards while tallying over 1,000 yards receiving. He was the third player in NFL history to do so.
Where the Panthers struggled a season ago was moving the ball through the air. After Newton was injured and replaced by Kyle Allen, the Carolina aerial attack took a turn for the worst as the wheels fell in Charlotte.
This season, the Panthers hope the new combination of Brady and Teddy Bridgewater will allow them to present a balanced attack on offense. Bridgewater, the former Saints and Vikings signal-caller, was one of the most highly-touted free agents this offseason after going 5-0 as a starter in 2019 due to a Drew Brees injury.