The 2109 season is over and nobody really wants to spend more time on the Carolina Panthers than they have to right now. Nothing proves that more than the widely empty stands during yesterday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints. Ultimately, the game’s only outcome that was relevant to the Panthers was in determining whether they picked seventh or tenth in the 2020 NFL draft. The good news for the Panthers is that they won’t have to worry about driving fan engagement following this disappointing season.
Between that seventh pick and a head coaching search, Panthers fans will have plenty to get excited about in the coming offseason. That’s not to mention the pure speculation that makes up any conversation about Cam Newton’s health. Fans love little more than pure speculation.
But posturing and bull shit aren’t the only things to get excited about for the Panthers. 2018 and 2019 marked two highly similar seasons. Quarterback injuries, (probably) retiring legends, and under-performing teams are sure to tank any roster, but just because the dumpster is on fire doesn’t mean it only holds trash.
The defense was largely a mess due to injuries up front. They surrendered a franchise record number of first downs and tied the NFL record for number of rushing touchdowns allowed (31). They still had 5 or 6 of their 11 losses as one possession games. The offense gave us a 1000 yard rusher and two 1000 yard receivers with inconsistent line play and erratic quarterback play. Christian McCaffrey becoming the third player in NFL history to record a 1000/1000 season is at least partly a team accomplishment. A consistent quarterback, let alone a star, and a more consistent run defense is all that stood between this team and being competitive or even good.
We don’t need to pick nits today on what was good, bad, or an outlier. All we have to take into the coming offseason is that the Panthers have talent and the tools in the draft and free agency to acquire more. Come what may, we can at least be optimistic about not having to watch that iteration of this team ever again.