Cam Newton will have some ’splainin’ to do if his team doesn’t make it to the Super Bowl this season.
The 2011 Rookie of the Year quarterback has declared the Panthers will be in New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.
Ryan Kalil, the man who snaps the ball to Newton, decided that sentiment had a nice ring to it when he took out a full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer and said the Panthers would win the title.
Now the preseason is halfway finished and New Orleans looks a long way off, save for the Dec. 30 regular season finale with the Saints.
Can Newton repeat his rookie year heroics? The odds are against him.
A season of 310 completions for 4,051 yards and 17 touchdowns, plus 14 rushing touchdowns will be quite difficult to duplicate.
Despite several other decent tight ends, Newton will go heavily to Greg Olsen following the departure of Jeremy Shockey.
Excepting the superlative Steve Smith, the Panthers have one of the league’s more mediocre corps of wide receivers.
I’d be surprised if fourth-year man Brandon LaFell is the man who can take pressure off Smith, who is entering his 13th season.
A feared running attack only got better with the addition of Coastal Carolina’s Mike Tolbert. He and DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Newton represent Carolina’s Four Horsemen, although I’m sure head coach Ron Rivera hopes Newton only runs on rare occasions.
The offensive line, anchored by Kalil and Jordan Gross, is vastly underrated.
Now we arrive at the Panthers’ so-called defense. For Newton’s dreams to evolve, the defense must make a huge transformation.
While defensive end Charles Johnson is a keeper, the Panthers’ defense was second worst in the NFC, attributable to the putrid play of the front four and secondary.
Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly, who turns 21 today, has fans giddy. If Jon Beason and Thomas Davis, who together played a total of three games last year, can return from injury, the Panthers will boast the league’s best unit at the position.
Now, to the ever-important schedule: If 6-10 is to be improved upon, it will be a result of winning two versus Tampa Bay.
The Panthers’ out-of-division schedules are with the NFC East and AFC West, with the former far more formidable than the latter.
8- 8 might be satisfactory in the end. But strange things do occur in that division.