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Newz Forum: FOOTBALL: Carolina Panthers Preview 2004

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TRD

posted on Sep, 13 2004 @ 04:49 PM
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Carolina won't have the element of surprise on their side this season, not after a year where they went 11-5, won the NFC South division title, and advanced all the way to the Super Bowl. And, with five starters departing in the offseason, and no major free agent signings, head coach John Fox's team will have to adjust in order to repeat their success. The Panthers' offense, 16th-ranked last season, is sparked by running back Stephen Davis, who ran for a team record 1,444 yards on 318 carries in 2003. The play of Davis takes some of the pressure off quarterback Jake Delhomme, who in 2004 enters his second season as a starting quarterback. Last year, Delhomme impressed the coaching staff by engineering eight come-from-behind victories, including one in the postseason.
 

Delhomme's top target is receiver Steve Smith, who will continue to be the focus of the passing game. The Panthers' defense, 8th-ranked last season, boasts an excellent defensive line (featuring Pro Bowlers Kris Jenkins and Mike Rucker) and solid performers throughout the rest of the unit. Four of the past five Super Bowl runners-up have posted a losing mark the following season. In 2003, the Oakland Raiders went from the biggest game in sports to a 4-12 mark, one that prompted their coach to be fired and much of their personnel excised. Not since the early 1970s has a team that lost the Super Bowl come back to win it the next year. The 1972 Miami Dolphins performed the feat, back before the words "salary cap" entered the game's lexicon.

The Insiders.com

Football About.com

Last Play Off Appearance: February 1, 2004 - a 32-29 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Key matchup(s): October 3 - Atlanta, October 17 - at Philadelphia, October 31 - at Seattle, November 28 - Tampa Bay, December 5 - at New Orleans, December 18 - at Atlanta, December 26 - at Tampa Bay, January 2 - at New Orleans.

Star Power: Jake Delhomme (QB, 4th year, 6'2", 205 lbs.), Stephen Davis (RB, 9th year, 6'1", 230 lbs.), Steve Smith (WR, 4th year, 5'9", 179 lbs.), Kris Jenkins (DT, 4th year, 6'4", 315 lbs.), Mike Rucker (DE, 6th year, 6'5", 275 lbs.), Julius Peppers (DE, 3rd year, 6'6", 283 lbs.), Ricky Manning (CB, 2nd year, 5'9", 185 lbs.).

Notable Additions: Brandon Short (LB, 5th year, 6'3", 253 lbs.), Adam Meadows (T, 8th year, 6'5", 290 lbs.), Travis Claridge (G, 5th year, 6'5", 300 lbs.), Artrell Hawkins (CB, 7th year, 5'10", 190 lbs.).

Notable Subtractions: Todd Steussie (T, 11th year, 6'6", 308 lbs.), Jeno James (G, 5th year, 6'3", 315 lbs.), Kevin Dyson (WR, 7th year, 6'2", 212 lbs.), Deon Grant (S, 5th year, 6'2", 210 lbs.),

Notable Returnees: DeShaun Foster (RB, 2nd year, 6'1", 222 lbs.), Mushin Muhammad (WR, 9th year, 6'2", 217 lbs.), Dan Morgan (LB, 4th year, 6'2", 233 lbs.), Ricky Proehl (WR, 15th year, 6'1", 190 lbs.),

Delhomme emerged as one of the league's better young talents at quarterback as the Panthers opened up the playbook in the second half of the 2003 season. He is a smart QB and he made a lot of good decisions down the stretch. He has good field vision and awareness, and he manages the game very well. However, if he were to be lost for any significant length of time, the Panthers would be forced to rely on either 38-year-old Rodney Peete or former fourth-round pick Chris Weinke to lead the offense, and it's doubtful either would be successful over the long haul.

Delhomme may be the guy driving this offense, but Stephen Davis is the spark plug. He's the one that makes it all work with his pounding style of ground attack that keeps the chains moving and opens up the play-action passing game. DeShaun Foster is a very talented back as well, and he will likely see more playing time this season as the Panthers try to better capitalize on his skills while limiting the wear and tear on Davis throughout the season. Foster possesses more big-play potential with his explosiveness and ability to get outside, but Carolina must be sure to get Davis enough carries to make sure his punishing style is effective. Steve Smith, who emerged as one of the top young receivers in the league, is the go-to guy in this offense, but chances are he will face a lot more double teams this season. Muhsin Muhammad is a capable No. 2 and a legitimate deep threat who should benefit from the added attention Smith receives this year. At No. 3 will be Ricky Proehl until second-round draft pick Keary Colbert proves he is ready to handle the slot. Tight ends Kris Mangum and Mike Seidman will see a lot of blocking duty, but neither is used much in the passing attack.

There are many forces conspiring against another big year in Carolina. Three are named Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans, none of which figure to go meekly in a division that could be the NFL's toughest. Another is a punishing schedule that will make it difficult for the Panthers to sustain momentum. Questions on the offensive line and secondary continue to linger. Then there is the notion of good luck, which Fox's team had in great supply last season, when it won nine regular season games by six points or fewer. Carolina was a good, not great, team a year ago, and the same looks to be true this year. If the new personnel meshes quickly and the club gets more of those patented breaks, look for the Panthers in the playoffs. If bad luck, injuries, or player incompatibility reigns in any great measure, don't be surprised if Carolina is the fifth Super Bowl runner-up in six years to miss the postseason.




posted on Sep, 13 2004 @ 08:51 PM
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They will prove that last year wasn't a fluke. Davis will put the team on his shoulders again this year, and DeShaun will be pushing them from behind. They have a legitimate shot at making it to the Super Bowl once again.



posted on Sep, 13 2004 @ 11:49 PM
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Bad news just in for the Panthers.

Apparently Steve Smith broke his left fibula and will miss significant time.




posted on Oct, 14 2004 @ 09:42 PM
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The injury bug has taken it's toll on them already this year, don't expect them to make a recovery and head to the playoffs.


TRD

posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 03:54 PM
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Panthers receiver Muhsin Muhammad is brought down by the Chargers' Jerry Wilson during the first quarter in Charlotte.



posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 07:11 PM
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A fall from grace, maybe even quicker than Atlanta after thier Super Bowl appearance.


TRD

posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 07:14 PM
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Originally posted by TRD
Carolina won't have the element of surprise on their side this season, not after a year where they went 11-5, won the NFC South division title, and advanced all the way to the Super Bowl. And, with five starters departing in the offseason, and no major free agent signings, head coach John Fox's team will have to adjust in order to repeat their success.

If bad luck, injuries, or player incompatibility reigns in any great measure, don't be surprised if Carolina is the fifth Super Bowl runner-up in six years to miss the postseason.


See i already called it.....


TRD

posted on Dec, 30 2004 @ 08:16 AM
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A year after winning the NFC championship, the Carolina Panthers are trying to become the first team to make the play-offs after a 1-7 start. On Sunday, the Panthers host the New Orleans Saints in a showdown of NFC South rivals that may decide a wild card berth.

Despite a plethora of injuries, the Panthers have won six of their last seven to surge back into play-off contention. But Carolina are going to need some help. The Panthers need a win and a loss by Minnesota at Washington or a loss by St Louis against the New York Jets to clinch a play-off spot. They can also get in with a win coupled with a win by Seattle over Atlanta.



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