After the starting the season at 6-2, with Cam Newton playing the best football of his career and Super Bowl aspirations, the Carolina Panthers are now in the middle of a 5 game skid that has confused both the team and fans. Questions loom about Ron Rivera’s future as head coach, Eric Washington’s future as defensive coordinator and several players’ futures as Carolina Panthers. However, with all the turmoil that has enveloped the team this season, Carolina’s playoff hopes are still alive. But with so much uncertainty, dwindling playoff chances and a franchise quarterback who’s dealing with shoulder health, should the Panthers just dial it back and focus on preparing for next season? Here are the pros and cons:
- Cam Newton, who had surgery on this throwing shoulder in March of 2017, clearly isn’t 100%. And while he’s been playing good football overall, his inability to throw the long-ball is concerning. The Carolina Panthers will go as far as Cam takes them. His health is paramount to the team’s success going forward. His shoulder strength is paramount to the team’s success going forward. Allowing him to rest the remainder of the season and focus on improving his health may prove beneficial in the long run.
- The Panthers have needs and historically this franchise has not been the type to sign big-name free agents; they build in draft. This year’s class is stock full of talented defensive linemen and pass rushers – an area that needs improvement. Dialing it back the remainder of the season means the Carolina Panthers would have a better draft pick.
- Dropping five games in row can be demoralizing, but dropping eight games in a row can be devastating. The Panthers end the season with one of the toughest schedule’s in the league – facing division foes Saints twice and Falcons once. Is it possible for the Panthers to run the table the rest of the season? Yes. Is it probable? No. Carolina can take this time to get younger talent more time on the field for experience and evaluating, without the bitter taste that’s come with losing close games with your first unit.
- I could run down a list of cons, but it’s not necessary. There have been occasions when tanking has worked (ie the Philadelphia 76ers), but most of the time it doesn’t and in a room full of competitors giving up is never an option. Minnesota’s Monday night loss to the Seahawks means the Panthers are just .5 game behind them for the final NFC Wild Card Playoff spot. Simply put…there’s still hope and as long as that exists you have to keep going. Who knows…maybe the Panthers will shock the world.