The 2012 Carolina Panthers is coming off of the “Year of Cam”. Cam Newton splashed onto the NFL shutting up all of the naysayers who said he wasn’t an NFL quarterback. He had one of the most successful rookie seasons of any incoming QB, and he single-handedly breathed new life into the Panthers and its anemic offense. He also helped with the re-emergence of one of the league’s most exciting WRs. But with the success of the offense, there was the downfall of the Panther defense, resulting in a 6-10 season. This year the Panthers will look to continue the offensive success with the continued development of Newton, a strong running game, and an improved defense. Time will tell.
Fantasy Football Studs: Several Panthers have the potential to be Studs, but there are only 2 players with guaranteed stud status. Cam Newton became a fantasy studs the moment he hit the field. He threw for over 4000 yards, showing that he had what it takes to be a QB in this league. He also added over 700 yards on the ground, which netted 14 rushing TDs. On the receiving end on over 1300 of those passing yards was Steve Smith, who just two seasons ago had to listen to rumblings of diminishing skills and the possibilities of taking a reserved role with a new team. But with the presence of a new QB and almost instant chemistry with the rookie phenom, Smith quieted his critics and enjoyed a comeback season. Also in the mix are RBs DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and newly acquired fullback Mike Tolbert. All three of these players have stud potential as long as they are used. Last season, Williams and Stewart were underused much to the chagrin of fantasy owners everywhere.
Area of Strength: The Panthers have many strengths on the offensive side of the ball, but the strength they need to utilize the most is the running game. Last year, Cam Newton was the offensive catalyst and the main man in the running game, mostly because the Panthers played from behind. But this year, they plan to use both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, who both have 1000 yard potential. This will keep the opposing offenses off the field and place the momentum fully in favor of the Panthers. This will also sustain and preserve their QB. We all know, Newton does have Vick-like rushing potential, but that also makes him susceptible to Vick-like injuries. And when you add in lead blocker, Mike Tolbert, who has had back to back double-digit TD seasons with the Chargers, the Panthers have the potential to be the #1 rushing team in the league this season.
Area of Weakness: The weakness is most assuredly the Panther defense. This defense put ZERO pressure on the opposing teams quarterbacks. The leading individual sack total was 4. Pathetic. They also failed to keep opponents out of the end zone as well. The defense held none of their opponents under 10 points, and only two of their opponents were held under 17 points. In fact, 8 teams scored 30 or more points on this defense. Yes, they had some injuries, but they could barely defend an SEC college squad, let alone and NFL offense. They hope to have more success with the drafting of LB Luke Luechley, and the return of LBs Thomas Davis and Jon Beason, and defensive tackle Ron Edwards, all coming of injuries.
2012 Marquee Matchups: In addition to the division games, the Panthers have a few great matchups. Week 3 in a Thursday Night showdown, the Panthers face Superbowl Champs NY Giants. Week is the Panther’s bye week and then their schedule gets interesting facing the following teams back to back: Dallas, Chicago, Washington, Denver, Tampa Bay, then Philly! PS: That Philly game is a Monday nighter in Philly. Hope the Panthers are ready. That’s a great stretch of games right there.
All Things Carolina Panthers: There are several ways to keep up with the 2012 Carolina Panthers. Here are a few we like…
Blogs: Cat Scratch Reader http://www.catscratchreader.com/ ; Cat Crave http://catcrave.com/ ; Carolina Huddle http://www.carolinahuddle.com/index.html
Apps: Carolina Panters Mobile (by YinzCam, Inc.)
Fan Clubs: The official Panthers fan club can be found on www.panthers.com under fan zone.