The Panthers continue to disappoint us all with their performances over the past few seasons. In 2006 with the addition of Keyshawn, we all thought they were headed right for the Superbowl. In 2007, with the subtraction of Keyshawn, most everybody still had them down as wild card team.
None of that happened, as the Panthers continued to play at standards well below what their talents and not so distant past would suggest.
So what do the Panthers need to fix? Wow. Where do I begin?
First of all, the Panthers have no reason to be finishing 16th in overall defense when they have what was thought to be the best defensive line in all of football entering 2006. The only reason they weren’t given that same credit entering 2007 was because of how badly they disappointed everyone the year before. How can a team with Julius Peppers, Kris Jenkins, and Mike Rucker on the defensive line finish 16th in defense?
I’ll tell you how! All three of those guys just looked horrible this season. Especially Julius Peppers who recorded a record low number of solo tackles and only three sacks. Has he fallen off? Possibly. But he just had a 49-solo tackle and 13-sack season in 2006, so I’m not sure why he had the dramatic fall from grace in 2007.
Whatever the reason is, the Panthers need to go ahead and invest a draft pick in a defensive lineman. It seems like a waste considering how much money they currently spend on their D-line, but it seems as if all of them have just gone bad without any semblance of visual evidence to predict such poor play. It’s like chicken left out over night; sure you know it could go bad, but so quickly?
Then there is the quarterback position. The Panthers were in clear trouble once they were forced to sign a 44-year old man to be their starting quarterback. Vinny Testaverde actually wasn’t all that bad. He actually performed better than the other two Panthers’ starters who threw over 100 passes on the season. The only other QB for Carolina that looked better than Testaverde was Jake Delhomme who only threw 86 passes before going down for the season. If he is healthy, I guess he could try to reclaim his spot as the starter. But quite frankly, Delhomme seemed to be on the decline in 2006, and bringing him back this season and passing on the opportunity to move forward with a free agent (or maybe in David Carr) might be a setback that the Panthers cannot afford. I would suggest they go ahead and make a play for the Browns’ quarterback Derek Anderson. The Panthers have a lot of sexy pieces that could shipped, including one of their running backs (DeShaun Foster or DeAngelo Williams), and one of their “big name” defensive linemen that a defensive guy like Romeo Crennell might covet.
Either way, the Panthers need a solid QB to get Steve Smith the ball if they want to be successful in 2008.