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Friday September 5, 2008 10:50 pm

NFL Preview: Carolina Panthers

Posted by Kevin Moore Categories: NFL,

Jake Delhomme controls the Carolina Panthers' fate

2007 RECORD: 7-9

Overview: The Carolina Panthers had a very disappointing season in ‘07. After being picked by many to compete for the crown of best in the NFC, they finished with a dismal 7-9 record.  The level of frustration has been building for quite some time and finally exploded this summer.  All-Pro wide receiver Steve Smith broke Ken Lucas’ nose during an altercation at practice. Smith’s inspired play has always been appreciated; unfortunately, at times it appears that he is the only one with that motivation.  The Panthers’ season seems to ride with the play of quarterback Jake Delhomme as while he was injured last season, the team collapsed.  After he was deemed unable to perform, the getting sacked king, David Carr, took over. This only exacerbated their awful offensive play.

Offense: The offense ranked fourth overall and surprisingly third in passing.  However, there was a considerable difference with Carr and Vinny Testerverde at the helm versus Delhomme. Going into the ‘08 season, Delhomme is completely heeled from Tommy John Surgery.  The passing game should continue to shine with the addition of Dwayne Jarrett, the reunion with Mushin Mohammad, and D.J. Hackett.

Defense: On the defensive side, they must find a way to replace Kris Jenkins who went to the New York Jets, Mike Rucker (retirement), and Dan Morgan who will now play with the New Orlenas Saints, but at least they get to see him twice a year.  The good news is that Julius Peppers seems to be having a renaissance in his career.  The linebacker corp is pretty solid with Jon Beason as the anchor. The defense played consistently last season and ranked 16th overall.

Rookies: The running attack should be sparked by rookie Jonathan Stewart, the stand out from Oregon.  With the departure of Deshaun Foster, DeAngelo Williams should be able to rest assure that he is “the guy.” The holes will open up with the addition of Jeff Otah from the University of Pittsburgh and Kendrick Vincent.

Prediction: With the changing faces on defense it may be hard to imagine them playing at that level again. On the offensive side, the team will move as Jack Delhomme moves. Therefore, if he can stay healthy they should be in for a decent season, but if he does fall victim to the injury bug what will this team do?  You can always measure a team’s heart by the passion its best player plays with.  Unfortunately, that role falls to Steve Smith and a receiver cannot throw or tackle.  I believe the Panthers will play at .500 going 8-8.



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