Perception Is Not Always Reality When It Comes To Our Panthers

Most of us have been Panther Fans for a long time.  We love our team, we love our city, and we love our Preseason predictions.  This got me thinking; so I asked a few die-hards on Twitter what they thought our strongest positional group (other than DE) would be this year.  Some interesting responses were given such as fullback, defensive tackle, and the obvious linebacker.  One die-hard even joked offensive tackle:

Almost every year a perceived weakness is stronger than though, and a
perceived strength doesn't live up to the billing.  Think about this, a little over a year ago our O-line was thought to be in shambles and Frank Garcia was calling for Jordan Gross to hang up his cleats.  Gross ended up returning to Pro Bowl form by the end of the year.  Also do you recall everyone fearing how we would be terrible defending the pass with Chris Gamble retiring? Carolina then went went from averaging 223 yards passing allowed in 2012 to 214.3 in 2013.  I also remember folks saying “Thank God we finally have a Franchise QB!,” but then the Golden-arm of Jimmy Clausen didn’t quite live up to the billing.  One last example before looking at this year, remember how a year ago we were concerned about our ability to stop the run?  Yea, Star would help, but he’s a rookie and it takes more than one guy.  We were going to get crushed.  Well we went from giving up 110 yards per game to only 87 per game a year ago.  People will say “I called that,” but the reality is everyone hind-sight is 20/20.

So what will 2014 bring?  I’m not going to say that I know for sure, because no one does (that is the real fun of football isn’t it?)  But I’m going to propose that our WRs could be a candidate to surprise and be what our DLine was a year ago.  National pundits are going so far as to say they feel sorry for Cam (Shaun King, I’m looking right at you buddy).  Well I’m thinking, come February, that may not be the case.  As a matter of fact, I predict Cam has his best year yet and our WRs become a strength.  Not only can Benjamin be our #1 WR, but one from the group of Tiquan Underwood, Tavarres King, Philly Brown and Marvin McNutt will rise to prominence. They just need the opportunity and competition will push the cream to rise to the top. 

Another candidate for the surprising unit on the positive side is the O-line.  We are all a little apprehensive (to say the least) about Byron Bell protecting Cam’s blindside, but Jordan Gross was not a very good RT when he played on that side of the line earlier in his career either.  But he was a great LT.  Gettleman seems to think Bell can be better on the left.  And let’s face it, he knows more than we do and it is his job on the line.  Hopefully a year from now we’ll be laughing at our doubts about Bell.  And hopefully we’ll be in awe of the development someone like David Foucault (AKA the Big Frenchie).   Oh and don’t forget about my man Trai Turner being added to this lineup.  I’m excited to watch this group develop. 

Now the spot that worries me most is LB.  Yes, LB.  Don’t get me wrong, Thomas Davis and Luuuuuke are the men.  Chase Blackburn is above average and Klein is on the rise.  Here’s the problem: If either Davis or Luuuke miss any time, we could be in trouble.  Who is our back up MLB?  Who could replicate what Thomas Davis brings?  That’s a problem.  I was hoping we were going to draft a LB in one of the first five rounds to help keep our strength strong.  But hopefully we stay healthy and you guys can laugh at this concern this time next year.  We did bring in Denicos Allen as a URFA and he has promise.  But this group is a concern to me.

So what are your thoughts PantherNation?  Which positional groups are you high on and concerned about and why?  And follow me, Erin Ford, AKA Mel Mayock, on Twitter at @PanthersDrafter and keep the conversation going.  In the meantime, check out what Panthers fans are saying!