We are basically two months into the 2017 fiscal year for the National Football League. It’s safe to say we have seen plenty of player movement via free agency and trades. And in late April, a total of 253 players were selected in the NFL draft. So as teams get ready for mini-camps and OTAs, we figured it was a good time to have some fun looking (and learning) at the significant numbers – both in regards to the past and the present – for each of the 32 franchises. We’ve already checked out the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills. And now we take a look at the Carolina Panthers.
From a 7-8-1 season in 2014 to a 15-1 showing and a Super Bowl appearance one year later. To a dismal 6-10 mark and last place in the NFC South. The Carolina Panthers continues to baffle those looking for a little consistency from this franchise. The team began play in 1995 and still hasn’t posted consecutive winning campaigns. This past year, Ron Rivera’s team totaled nine fewer victories than it did the previous season. Including the 2015 postseason, the Panthers are 9-12 in their last 21 contests after opening ’15 with a 14-0 record. And three of those dozen setbacks are via the Atlanta Falcons.
In 2015, the Panthers led the NFL in takeaway/giveaway differential. League MVP Cam Newton enjoyed a brilliant season and his efficient play was one reason the club turned over the football just 19 times. Combine that with a league-best 39 takeaways and you have your plus-20 turnover margin. But while Carolina totaled 10 more miscues than the previous season (29), the team also managed a mere 27 takeaways – 12 fewer than during their 2015 Super Bowl campaign.
Yes, Cam Newton had a bad year. And perennial Pro Bowl middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was limited to only 10 games. But was the decision to not find a way to keep 2015 All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman (who signed with the Washington Redskins) the biggest issue of all? A new-look secondary took its lumps and only three teams in the NFL allowed more passing yards than the Carolina Panthers. A team that allowed only 25 TD passes in 19 overall contests in ’15 (including playoffs) allowed 27 aerial scores in 16 contests this past season.