They’re trying, Charlotte.
The Carolina Panthers once again, fought and competed but the only thing that they have to show for their well-meaning efforts is a 5-11 record and a third place NFC South finish.
Despite the Panthers’ mediocre record, their 2020 NFL season was a season about the process of progression. There was a blowout win. They also endured their fair share of blowout losses. The Panthers also had games that they were in and should have won. It was more ebb than flow this season, but this was to be expected for a team trying to form a new identity.
Part of that new identity will be formed by the Panthers’ new GM, whoever that will be. While the team is currently interviewing for the position, it’s not too early to discuss some areas of concern . Here are three areas the Panthers must address for next season.
Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t meant to be Carolina’s long term solution under center. For most of the season, Bridgewater was more of a game manager than the type of quarterback that will take over a game to win it. That’s okay…in a backup role. The Panthers need a quarterback that is willing to trust his arm and his receivers to win. While two yard check downs protect that completion percentage, it doesn’t necessarily put points on the board when they are needed the most. The Panthers have the eighth pick in the draft. They can use that pick to address this need. Granted, the Panthers might not get Trevor Lawrence or Zach Wilson, but they will have options with Justin Fields and Mac Jones.
All season, Carolina struggled on third down defense. One reason for their struggles is at linebacker. More often than not, opposing offenses got the better of the Panthers front seven. Shaq Thompson and Brian Burns were solid this season. However, they and the unit need more. Jeremy Chinn, as versatile that he is, isn’t a long term solution in this area. Carolina can acquire a dependable option at linebacker in free agency.
In addition to run defense issues, the secondary needs strengthening as well. Chinn might be better utilized as a safety. If so, the Panthers may acquire either a safety or another corner to pair with Chinn and Donte Jackson. An extra corner or safety would strengthen a secondary that ranked 20th in the league in pass defense. The Panthers can get another late round gem in the draft like they did with Chinn, develop the talent and solidify the unit.