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BlindSite
03-14-2007, 03:09 AM
The Carolina Panthers again appear to be flying under the radar heading into the 2007 season.

After going 8-8 in 2006 many prognosticators and casual observers fail to see any way the Panthers will rise to the heights they did in 2005, the last time they reached the NFC Championship.

What they fail to realize is that the Panthers last year were probably one of the NFL’s most unlucky teams in regards to injuries. In the very first game of the season against division rival, the Atlanta Falcons, the Panthers lost their left tackle, middle linebacker, and centre for the entire year.

The front seven saw massive turnover with two new starters at defensive tackle and three fresh faces at linebacker. The safety position saw a rather big change with Shaun Williams starting after Marlon McCree left in free agency.

Later in the year the Panthers lost Jake Delhomme for three games that could’ve been won had there been better quarterback play. Additionally Steve Smith missed two games through a hamstring injury. Further still DeAngelo Williams and DeShaun Foster both missed games with ankle and elbow problems.

At times the talented secondary felt some strain with the talented cornerback of tandem Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas hindered with a mess of injuries and Shaun Williams struggling to remain healthy.

Despite all of the aforementioned issues the Panthers still sent three players to the probowl, went 5-1 in the division, had a top ten defense and still almost made the playoffs.

The panthers figure to return 21 of 22 true starters to both sides of the ball, giving them a lot of luxury heading into the 2007 NFL Draft. Needing only a safety and depth at linebacker the Panthers will undoubtedly be able to improve the areas in which they struggled in 2006.

Should the front office net themselves a safety, linebacker and weapon for the special teams the Panthers, barring a poor turn of luck again, will be right in the mix come January.

The defense will again be dominant and Jeff Davidson will bring a much needed attacking mind set to an offense lacking in direction.

Jake Delhomme should improve from his 2006 statistics with better pass protection, a much needed running game and improvements to the passing game.

Davidson coming from the Bill Belicheck coaching tree should utilize the tight end position and change the offense to suit the Panthers loaded offensive skill positions.

John Fox, ever the masterful motivator and talented defensive mind should do well in the coming year facing a number of offensive minded teams and relatively weak defenses.

The panthers are not a team to be disrespected or ignored in the lead up to the 2007 season as their “don’t upset the applecart” offseason strategy has worked wonders in the past. Should the bounce of the ball go the Panthers’ way they should be well and truly in the playoff picture and will make a lot of noise thereafter.

d-dave
03-16-2007, 07:22 AM
Does make a lot of sense than trying to rebuild. This team suffered a lot from a lack of chemsitry the past couple of years.