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It is year two for Coach Matt Ruhle and the rebuilding process in under way. The Panthers gambled in the offseason and have hitched their wagon to quarterback Sam Darnold. The goal now is to build an offense that will suit his talents. They maneuvered around and ended up with 11 draft picks in the 2021 draft to try and upgrade at critical spots.
Darnold comes to Carolina after an unsuccessful run with the New York Jets. The Panthers are hoping a change of scenery and an upgrade of talent around him will cause a rebirth. Christian McCaffrey is back at running back after missing 13 games in 2020. They also drafted Chuba Hubbard in the 4th round. The receiving room is excellent led by Robby Anderson (95 catches for 1096 yards) and D.J. Moore (66 catches for 1193 yards). There is depth at this position also. The offensive line is under construction but it looks to be improved from a year ago.
The defensive line will be better with the free agent signing of DeQuan Jones and draft pick Daviyon Nixon. They also acquired pass-rusher Haason Reddick who had 12.5 sacks last year with Arizona. The linebacker position is thin but there is a bright spot in Shaq Thompson who had 116 tackles in 2020. They used their first round pick on Jaycee Horn and he should start immediately at cornerback.
Must Wins: NY Jets, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, at Houston
Toss-Up Games: New Orleans, Minnesota, New England, NY Giants, at Atlanta, at Arizona
Probable Losses: Tampa Bay, at Dallas, at Miami, at Buffalo, at New Orleans, at Tampa Bay
Summary in Two Sentences: The experiment with Darnold is going to be interesting as he has more weapons than he had in New York. Carolina appears to have a plan and they are building the right way under Ruhle.
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