One of the biggest needs going into this offseason for the Carolina Panthers was the offensive tackle position. So what did the Carolina Panthers do to try to improve Cam Newton's blindside? They chose not to resign OT Byron Bell and instead signed OT Michel Oher. Bell was not resigned because he was one of the worst tackles in the league last season, but he still found a new home with the Tennessee Titans. Oher was released from the Titans because he was one of the worst tackles in the league, where the poor play was due to a nagging toe injury surgically repaired this offseason. It was a very interesting swap, a terrible tackle for a bad tackle.
Did the Carolina Panthers actually improve at the left tackle position?
Byron Bell (Age 26) spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Carolina Panthers. He started 56 of the 62 games since being signed by the club in 2011. Throughout his short career has not been very successful at the offensive tackle. He started out at right tackle but that didn't work, so the Panthers decided him to move to left tackle. That move didn't workout either. Bell was one of the worst tackles in the league last year, allowing nine sacks. Since 2011, Cam Newton has been sacked or hit 531 times. Who hasn't been doing their job? Non other than Byron “Got His Bell Rung.”
Michael Oher's (Age 29) NFL career started out strong. He made the NFL all-rookie team in 2009, helped the Baltimore Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII, and that same team set a franchise record for points scored in a regular season. Even though he made 91 consecutive starts at the tackle position, he has struggled recently. He injured his toe last season, finding himself benched for poor play. According to TeamRankings.com, the Titans' offensive line was 27th in the league by allowing their quarterbacks to be sacked 3.1 times per game. Surprisingly Oher's old team the Baltimore, Ravens, had the best offensive line by only allowing Joe Flacco to be sacked 1.1 times per game.
Can Michael Oher help keep Cam Newton healthy and help the Panthers offense succeed?
Before this season Bell and Oher's careers were both trending downward. But I really think that Carolina Panthers GM Dave Gettleman, made the right move by signing Michael Oher. He is a veteran who provides depth, strong competition, and he knows how to win.
It is also is a plus that the Carolina Panthers offensive line coach John Matsko has a past with Michael Oher. Matsko was with Oher during his first two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. Ron Rivera had this to say about Oher, "He's a pro who understands what it takes to win. A big part of why we pursued Michael was his relationship with offensive line coach John Matsko and the opportunity to have him work with (assistant offensive line coach) Ray Brown. We are excited to have him."
Does Cam Newton need to worry about his blindside this coming season?
By, Justin Raymond
Follow me on Twitter @JayRay19