Panthers News NFL: Carolina Panthers right outside linebacker Thomas Davis will be suspended for the first four games.



Carolina Panthers 2018 Season Preview




Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Posted on 8/17/2018.


Carolina Panthers Free Agency Recap


The Panthers picked up Torrey Smith as a Free Agent. They also got Dontari Poe from the Atlanta Falcons to replace Star Lotulelei.



Carolina Panthers Draft Recap


D.J. Moore was expected to be the number two target next to Devin Funchess heading into training camp. Torrey Smith is outperforming Moore and that's forced Moore into a slot receiver role. Donte Jackson is a nickel cornerback that Carolina spent a second round pick on in the 2018 NFL Draft.




Carolina Panthers Quarterback Summary: Cam Newton was the best quarterback in the NFL two years ago up until Super Bowl 50. He can still be one of the leagues best quarterbacks. It also feels like his supporting cast is getting weaker and with more coaches leaving, Carolna's window of opportunity to contend for a Super Bowl drops by the year.


The father son tandem of Norv Turner and Scott Turner are replacing offensive coordinator Mike Shula and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey.


Carolina Panthers Running Back Summary: Carolina has incredible depth in their backfield. CHristian McCaffrey anchors this backfield. You also got C.J. Anderson as the backup, Cameron Artis-Payne is the third string running back. Kenyon Barner is the fourth string running back. Running backs coach Jim Skipper enters his fifteenth season. He's one of the best and former offensive line coach John Matsko is the running game coordinator so this team knows how to churn out running backs while coaching them effectively. Matsko's run blocking scheme was a huge reason why Cam Newton dominated in 2015 and he's still with Carolina in 2018.


Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver Summary: Devin Funchess was a tight end at Michigan before he converted to wide receiver now he's Carolina's top target. Carolina also brought in Torrey Smith through Free Agency and drafted D.J. Moore in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft hoping this would solve their wide receiver woes. Carolina could not replace Kelvin Benjamin's impact as the number one guy in this offense after trading him.


Lance Taylor is back as a wide receivers coach for Carolina. Taylor was the wide receivers coach on the 12-4 Carolina team in 2013-2014. Then he left the team to be a running backs coach at Stanford where he developed Christian McCaffrey. He enters his second season as the wide receivers coach since McCaffrey got drafted by the Panthers a year ago.


Carolina Panthers Tight End Summary: Carolina may not have a very good tight ends coach. Greg Olsen probably has the best work ethic and composure of any tight end in the NFL. He was the first Panthers tight end to have three consecutive seasons with 1,000 receiving yards. Olsen is probably the safest target that Cam Newton has at the moment. Pete Hoener returns as the tight ends coach.


Carolina Panthers Offensive Line Summary: Matt Kalil is now Carolina's blindside. Having an itnerior offensive line with Amini Silatolu at left guard, Ryan Kalil at center and Trai Turner at right guard always helps. Carolina has Taylor Moton at right tackle.


Ray Brown enters his second year as the offensive line coach. Brown had to deal with a ton of injuries in his first season so he needs to do a better job this year after being John Matsko's assistant at one point.


The Panthers have Cam Newton and a very strong running game. I expect a top 10 rushing offense. I also see a middle of the pack offense in terms of point scored, total yards, and passing yards. Carolina has a lot of depth at wide receiver, but they lack that number one target that Cam Newton can rely on. That's difficult for me to look past.



Carolina Panthers Defensive Line Summary: Carolina has Mario Addison at 4-3 right end and Julius Peppers at 4-3 left end. Kawaan Short and Dontari Poe are the starting defensive tackles. Vernon Butler is a nice depth player, but he looks like he will remain a backup unless Short or Poe goes down.


Eric Washington is one of the NFL's best defensive line coaches. Even after Julius Peppers and Greg Hardy left the Panthers, he still adapted. Washington has a lot more depth this year so expect Carolina to get after the quarterback a lot this season. Washington finally got promoted to defensive coordinator with Steve Wilks taking a head coaching gig in Arizona. If Carolina returns to the NFL Playoffs again, expect Washington to be the third consecutive defensive coordinator turned head coach straight out of Carolina following in the footsteps of Sean McDermott and Steve Wilks.


Carolina Panthers Linebacker Summary: Carolina has Thomas Davis at 4-3 right outside linebacker, Luke Kuechly at 4-3 middle linebacker, and Shaq Lawson their 2015 first round pick at 4-3 left outside linebacker. Carolina does not have the linebacker depth it had the last two years so that could be an issue if any of their three linebackers get injured. Davis is gonna be suspended for the first four games so Kuechly is gonna have to come out guns blazing this year with 50 total tackles in the first four games if Carolina wants to get off to a strong start.


Carolina has two coaches that can develop linebackers. Head coach Ron Rivera and linebackers coach Steve Russ who is taking over for Al Holcolmb. Russ was the defensive coordinator at Air Force and was the assistant head coach there before being promoted to the NFL.


Carolina Panthers Defensive Backs Summary: James Bradberry is the field cornerback. Kevon Seymour is the boundary cornerback. Donte Jackson is the nickel cornerback and he's capable of surpassing Seymour as the boundary cornerback.


James Bradberry is being moved from field cornerback to boundary cornerback. This shows me Carolina may not have faith in Bradberry as a #1 corner, but still believes he could be a good #2 corner at the boundary. Daryl Worley who played boundary cornerback as a rookie got bumped down to nickel cornerback. Worley got burned on tape quite frequently at West Virginia and struggled as a rookie so that doesn't surprise me as much. Cornerback is another position that the Panthers may upgrade in the 2018 NFL Draft if Munnerlyn struggles.


Mike Adams and Da'Norris Searcy are the starting safeties. Adams is a serviceable free safety, but I feel like Searcy is expendable to a point at the strong safety position.


Richard Rodgers is the new secondary coach on Carolina. Rodgers will coach the defensive backs. I feel like Carolina's secondary will be suspect until Donte Jackson manages to beat out Kevon Seymour for that boundary cornerback job. The safety play will be the weakness of this defense.


The Panthers are thinner then ever at defensive end in terms of depth despite having Addison and Peppers as starters off the edge. Thomas Davis will be out for the first four games, and the safety play is suspect. I feel like Carolina will regress immensely in every defensive category this season unless Luke Kuechly manages to lead the NFL in tackles. He's the backbone of this Carolina Panthers defense. This defense starts and ends with 59 on Carolina.



Carolina Panthers Special Teams Summary: Graham Gano is a reliable kicker. Michael Palardi is taking over as the Panthers starting punter. Carolina lacks is going to use Fozzy Whittaker on special teams now with Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey getting a majority of the carries at running back now. Thomas McGaughey is the special teams coordinator.




Carolina Panthers Worst Case Scenario: The Panthers go 7-9 or 8-8 and finish third in the NFC South Division.


Carolina Panthers Best Case Scenario: Carolina somehow repeats last years success and barely manages to get a wild card spot once again.


Carolina Panthers 2018 NFL Schedule


Week
Date
Opponent
Time
Cable Network
Result
Week 1
September 9
VS
4:25 PM EST
FOX
W
Week 2
September 16
AT
1 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 3
September 23
VS
1 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 4
Bye Week
Week 5
October 7
VS
1 PM EST
FOX
W
Week 6
October 14
AT
1 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 7
October 21
AT
1 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 8
October 28
VS
1 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 9
November 4
VS
1 PM EST
FOX
W
Week 10
November 8
AT
8:30 PM EST
ESPN
W
Week 11
November 18
AT
1 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 12
November 25
VS
1 PM EST
FOX
W
Week 13
December 2
AT
1 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 14
December 9
AT
1 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 15
December 17
VS
8:15 PM EST
ESPN
W
Week 16
December 23
VS
1 PM EST
FOX
W
Week 17
December 30
AT
1 PM EST
FOX
L


Carolina Panthers 2018 Projected Record (7-9): Carolina had a better team and a much easier strength of schedule last season. I'm not sure how successful the new weapons will be. I also feel like they ignored left guard plus strong safety. Thomas Davis is suspended for the first four games too. I see a team with a losing record that goes 7-9 in 2018.








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