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Carolina Panthers: 5 Burning Questions For 2016

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With the NFL fast approaching, we will take a look at questions surrounding all teams. This week we head over to Charlotte to see what’s going on with Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Last we saw them they lost a defensive battle to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. With the rest of the NFL having their sights set on the Panthers, the question remains, “can they handle success”?

Here are the 5 Burning Question For The Carolina Panthers in 2016.

Can Cam Newton Surpass His MVP Season?

It’s going to be hard to do, but it’s possible. For one, for the success that Newton had in 2015, there were areas he could improve. For instance, his completion percentage was average at 60%, his yardage was still below 4,000, and he has a tendency to overthrow his receivers. The Panthers offense is not Newton throwing the ball 500-600 times a season; they rely heavy on the run, but Newton for all his success on the ground has become a much-improved pocket passer. I would love to see what Newton could do with better receivers, and we will get our chance in 2016 with the return of Kelvin Benjamin. Yes, Newton can surpass last season’s totals.

Without Josh Norman Can The Defense Still Be Top 5?

Yes, Norman was a major cog in the Panthers defense, but they drafted well to replace him. The defense is still dependent on the front 7, and those guys are still intact. With Norman in the secondary, the Panthers ranked 11th, so there is room for improvement. The guys are young, but minus any rookie, they shift in his place there are still veterans that played last year there to help out. The Panthers play a team-based defense meaning not one person plays above their position; this is what makes the great defenses, great. Plus they still have Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly patrolling the middle.

Can Ron Rivera Keep His Team Focused On Their Goal?

Sometimes success comes fast or either too easy and in the Panthers case, both happened in 2015. The Carolina Panthers went from 7-8-1 in 2014 to 15-1 in 2015, talk about a hell of a turnaround. The lone loss came towards the end of the season against the Atlanta Falcons, but that didn’t deter them from their goal of reaching and winning the Super Bowl. The got there but ran into a stingy Broncos defense.

Rivera has to keep his guys’ heads on straight and let them know it’s still one game at a time. They have pretty much the same crew together which makes cohesiveness a non-issue. If the Panthers come out as focused as they were last season, they will finish 2016 like they were supposed to in 2015.

Did Panthers Make Mistake Not Drafting Derrick Henry?

Yes. Jonathan Stewart is a good back, but it’s time to think about the future now. The  Carolina Panthers finished in the top 3 in both rushing attempts and yards, but a large chunk of that was due to Newton. Stewart came close to breaking 1,000 yards, but injuries got in his way. The young pups still have a chance to make a name for themselves but drafting a back with Henry’s speed and power would have saved Stewart wear and tear. The Panthers went defense when they would’ve had the second coming of Double Trouble.

How Realistic Is An Undefeated Season For 2016?

As I stated in an earlier article, the Carolina Panthers have a legit shot to end the regular season undefeated. The play four playoff teams from last season, plus they have the luxury of owning the NFC South for the past three. Benjamin is back, and the defense will be out to prove a point without Norman. With their success last year the Panther had a bulls-eye on the jersey’s, but if they can remain focused, they can get the job done. It’s odd that a Super Bowl team will end up with such a weak schedule the following year, but the Panthers were given a gift, and they better take advantage of it.


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com