The start of the 2012 NFL season is ready to begin. The unbridled excitement before the march towards the Superbowl is here. There will be breakout players, comeback stories, broken records and players that reach the pinnacle of their careers in performance. The hopes and dreams of every NFL fan, player and coach are at their highest point. Even the Browns fans still believe.
For Panthers fans and players, this 2012 season is going to feel a little different... it's redemption time. Redemption for what?
For every clown sports writer, analyst, alleged draft pundit and ignorant fan that have made degrading remarks about our beloved and dedicated Panthers, prepare yourselves for the ultimate beat-down. Here are just a few reasons.
Before going any further, the following link should provide the appropriate background music for this.
For the 2011 Panthers, a lot of points were scored, but there really wasn't a rhythm in the form of cohesiveness among the players. A rookie QB without a full off-season was pushed into the limelight as the leader of a team with the most intelligent and loyal fans. The pressure was enormous, but Cam Newton made it look easy.
Newton is joined by some of the most talented runners in the game today.
While some are concerned with the aerial attack and "who" the "Man of Steel will be targeting. But despite Smitty's Herculean abilities, he will not have to go at it alone any longer. He is joined by an up-and-coming TE, Greg Olsen, WR's Brandon Lafell and the recently acquired speedster Louis Murphy. Each of these men will provide unique opportunities for Newton to crush his opponents. Newton will almost undoubtedly be challenging the record books for the most passing yards in a QB's first two seasons. This is not even taking into account two other "potentially" dangerous weapons in Kealoha Pilares and Joe Adams.
The offensive line will now be given the opportunity to block for the most talented backfield ever assembled. Led by the Nostradamus of Olineman, Ryan Khalil, does Ryan foresee NFL greatness in their future? Fellow Pro Bowler Jordan Gross will anchor the weakside, where he is joined by newcomer Amini Silatolu.
In the NFL passing era, the defensive line is of ever-more importance to apply relentless pressure to opposing QB's. In a division that yields elite aerial talent, who among the defensive line will apply that relentless pressure? We look no further than Big Money, Charles Johnson. What can be said other than, relentless. But which of the Panthers squad will step up?
Nevertheless, while many wonder about the makings of the interior line, allow these words to comfort you. The Rivera era will produce solid stout defenders, capable of clogging and penetrating up the middle. In the second season of any Rivera era, an immense improvement is guaranteed. By year three, absolute dominance.
With the return of "The Beast" to roam the middle, running through the center of Bank of America Stadium won't feel so friendly on Sundays any longer. Joining Beason, is the return of Thomas Davis, a man so superior in athleticism that even after three ACL tears, he makes elite athletes look average. The ever consistent James Anderson, the most reliable of defenders, who will continue to shut down the strong side of the field. They are joined by the newest member of the squad, Luke Kuechly.
Going head-to-head with the oppositions top wideouts will be our flying-under-the-radar cornerback, Chris Gamble. With his stealth-style coverage throughout a game, many fans barely notice he is there. Never forget, opposing QB's are aware, and dare not challenge Gamble. But who play opposite Gamble to shutdown opposing teams receivers? Will the young brash rookie from Coastal Carolina, Josh "Stormin" Norman, be the #2 this team has so desperately needed? Will Hogan recover in time to step up and play the part of the hero? Will the Captain man this ship? Or will it be someone who has yet to be named? Will our safeties, Lord Godfry and Haruki of the Nakamura clan, roam and defend the middle of the field?
In a world of copycats and phonies, this Panther squad will be leading the way towards another shift in NFL strategy. A shift back to running the football against defenses being built to stop aerial attacks. But this won't be your normal running the football, it will be a running style that provides an endless barrage of highlights. Expect our Panthers to accumulate record amounts of GIFable runs in 2012.
For Panthers fans, redemption will be sweet in 2012. Damn, it feels good to be a Panther.