Since 2003, the Carolina Panthers have participated in two Super Bowls. The franchise, however, has regressed to the mean over the past decade, as it has only appeared in the playoffs once since Cam Newton led the team to the NFC championship in 2015.
What is good news? After multiple disastrous quarterback experiments and one of the worst coaching runs ever under Matt Rhule, the team seemed to have found its footing this offseason. Frank Reich, who previously held the same role in Indianapolis for over five seasons, agreed to stay on as head coach to guide the team into the future.
Reich’s stint with the Colts was ruined by ongoing quarterback turnover. Throughout his time in Naptown, he never had a quarterback start consecutive Week 1 games. Fortunately, the Panthers put an end to the musical chairs situation behind center at the 2023 NFL Draft when general manager Scott Fitterer moved up to the first pick.
Bryce Young, a former Heisman Trophy winner, was taken by Carolina as the first overall choice in this year’s draft. To put it mildly, the Alabama signal-caller is tiny, yet he excels both as a leader and in terms of talent. The professionalism of Young and Reich together immediately respects the Panthers.
Although the team still needs to improve to be considered a legitimate contender, there are a few reasons why Carolina should be watched closely for the playoffs in the NFC South. Here are three reasons why the Panthers should win the division in 2023 and three reasons why they shouldn’t.
A look at why the Carolina Panthers will make playoffs
No. 1: Bryce Young Is Known To Be A Winner
Bryce Young is the most polished prospect we have ever seen coming out of college, as we briefly mentioned in the introduction. His small stature is a turnoff, but in his Alabama footage, this problem only sometimes surfaced.
Young is able to minimize the harm caused by his lack of size because of his brilliant football sense. No one in his peer group can match his abundance of arm talent and calmness under pressure, which more than makes up for it.
Young has consistently won football games everywhere he has been. Given that Frank Reich will be adjusting the offense to his new star quarterback in Year 1, expect more of the same. Young is bet on NFL games online’s favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if he continues to play into the last week of January.
No. 2: For The Young Players, It’s another year of development for them
A team usually has a roster full of gaps in addition to the top choice in the NFL Draft. The fact that Carolina moved up from No. 9 overall shows that there is talent on the squad.
Given how youthful the offensive line is as a whole, it is reasonable to predict that the line will advance further in 2023. The offensive line is surprisingly strong. Ikem Ekwonu, a first-round selection from last year, is particularly intriguing since as a rookie, he had signs of being an All-Pro blocker on the blindside.
There are several strong points on the defense, including Brian Burns, the best pass rusher in the league. Derrick Brown mans the middle of the defensive line and attracts interior attention elsewhere. Another player with a ton of promise is Jaycee Horn, a first-round pick by the Panthers in 2021. However, for the talented cornerback to ever realize his potential, he must maintain good health.
The majority of significant contributors are under 27 years old, which allows for year-round ongoing improvement. The Panthers might find themselves in postseason contention right up until the final week of the season if some of these young players grow quickly.
No. 3: Frank Reich Knowing How to Win Football
Frank Reich is an expert at winning football games during the regular season, to put it simply. Now, purely analyzing his win-loss record in Indianapolis may provide a different picture, but I can promise you that Reich did his best with the tools at his disposal.
For the first time in his coaching tenure, the second-time head coach enters 2023 with a blank slate and a long-term quarterback solution. It’s up to Reich and Young to elevate the unit to a competitive level; stability behind the center should go a long way toward that. And to wager against these two is a fool’s errand.
Reasons The Carolina Panthers Will NOT Make Playoffs
No. 1: Too Many Young Talents
Time to be unfavorable Nancy for the remainder of the essay. Despite how promising the roster appears on paper, youthful talent growth is not always linear. Sometimes it takes a player years to develop into a needle-mover.
When transitioning to the NFL, Bryce Young will have some growing pains, just like all collegiate quarterbacks do. His offensive arsenal and the line tasked with keeping him safe are the main cause for concern.
It might be challenging to forecast youth. The concept of “potential” eventually becomes nothing more than a word. These young players need to develop swiftly if they want to genuinely add victories to the record. Although it’s possible, inexperience will probably lead to erratic play throughout the season.
No. 2: Limited Options on Offence
Bryce Young has Adam Thielen as his top target in the passing game, but the rest of the offensive lineup is woefully underwhelming. Even Thielen himself started to deteriorate in 2022 while playing with the Vikings.
The offense may struggle to produce because of the quickly ageing veterans and the inexperience of players like Jonathan Mingo and Terrace Marshall. Young can carry a lot of the load, but if Carolina can’t push defenses, opponents will start to figure out its game plan.
No. 3: A Leaking Defense
As previously said, Derrick Brown, Jaycee Horn, Brian Burns, and Jeremy Chinn will be the roster’s cornerstone players moving forward. The rest of the team, though, has guys on defense that are much below average.
The secondary is not deep enough to cover for Horn (or Chinn) if they sustain another season-ending injury. Although Burns and Brown have been remarkably healthy in their brief careers, the same can be said about the front line.
Although Ejiro Evero, the defensive coordinator, is the real deal, it frequently takes a year or two before the strategy is properly executed. The good news on this front is that these important players are adaptable, which makes it easier for them to get used to the new system by picking things up as they go.