At the beginning of last season very few suspected that Cam Newton and the Panther's offense would have the kind of production that they did. After enduring the excruciating 2011 offense masterminded by Jeff Davidson, and led by Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen, us Panther fans could have only dreamed about the offensive output that Chud and Cam delivered. Conversely, the 2011 defense was expected to be able to hold it's own and keep us in games while Cam developed and the offense gelled.
Wow, was this wrong! Due to injuries on defense, Chudzinski's handling of the offensive scheme, and Newton's accelerated development, the offense shined while the defense sputtered.
In the 2012 season we all have expectations of what we think will happen based on what we saw last year, as well as what moves were made in the off-season. But what if we really have no idea? What if what we think is going to happen is turned upside down? What if the defense dominates while the offense struggles? Crazy you say? Le'ts look at the how it may happen in the Panther's bizzaro 2012 season.
For those that may not know, the Bizarro world was introduced in DC comic in the 1960's. It is essentially a world where everyone acts the exact opposite of how the do on earth. This concept was also used brilliantly in a Seinfeld episode in season 8. Here's a clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcjSDZNbOs0
So how do the Panther's end up in the Bizarro world in 2012? This world where the offense struggles and the defense dominates
Cam Newton regresses and has the dreaded sophomore slump in his second year. Defensive co-ordinators around the league learn to force Cam to play toward his weaknesses and the offense can't adjust..
The O-line is a mess. Jeff Otah never gets to full strength, Gross's play drops off substantially. Silatolu, and the other young linemen don't progress or step up.
The receiver core consists of Steve Smith and then everyone else. Opposing defenses double Smitty and no other WR steps up their game to give Cam a reliable second target to throw to.
The run game is average behind the sub-par offensive line. With few holes, and no reliable receivers to throw to, the run game doesn't produce enough to set up the passing game.
Charles Johnson dominates with the improved play from our defensive tackles and better play from Greg Hardy and Frank Alexander. Hardy and Alexander provide the perfect balance for one another leaving both refreshed throughout the game to seal the edge and get after the QB.
Our young and improving defensive tackles prove Rivera and Hurney correct by playing above anyone else's expectations. Fua and McClain both take gigantic leaps in stopping the running game as well as providing a push up the middle during passing downs. With Neblett and Kearse providing excellent depth, our vet Ron Edwards comes back from injury and has a career year playing beside the young bucks.
The secondary, with their new position coach, an improved pass rush and a year wiser in McDermott's system, become a ball hawking and big hitting group. Captain moves back to the nickle, Darius Butler locks up the #2 CB job in training camp. Brandon Hogan and Josh Norman show great promise and push Butler and Captain for the #2 and #3 positions.
Special teams make the difference between a win and a loss in several games in 2012. The key off-season signings of the special teams aces vault our special teams unit to the top of the league.
Mare rebounds from his horrible 2011 season to kick 3 game winning field goals in the last minute.
The Panther's finish with a 10-6 record and get into the playoffs as a wild card team. They beat Arizona at Arizona. They then destroy Washington and Minnesota to get to the Super bowl to face the Indianapolis Colts. Cam is the MVP of the Superbowl that the Panther's win 24-0.