Carolina Panthers 2009 NFL Projection:
As we noted at the beginning of last year, when Jake Delhomme is healthy, the Panthers are competitive.
And so in spite of a disastrous playoff loss at home to the Cardinals, Delhomme was signed to an extension.
The move makes perfect sense with the Panthers returning nearly all of their starters from a (12-4)
team a season ago.
The biggest change is new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks
coming in for Mike Trgovac.
The Panthers would like to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. So they gambled in the draft by trading
their 1st round pick in next year's draft to San Francisco in exchange for the Niners' second round pick which they
used to select Florida State's Everette Brown who had slipped out of the first round.
And while Brown figured to be "the key move" on Carolina's defensive line, DT Maake Kemoeatu unfortunately
ruptured his Achilles' and will miss the season.
Afterwards, the Panthers quickly traded for Cleveland's Louis Leonard to help plug the middle.
To make matters worse, 3rd round draft pick Corvey Irvin from Georgia, hurt his knee in the final preseason game and has been placed on IR.
Do you think the Panthers could use Kris Jenkins right about now?
With the interior of the Panthers' defensive line in a weakened state, life will be tougher for middle
linebacker John Beason, already hampered by a sprained MCL...
Carolina's secondary hasn't been able to escape the injury bug either.
FS Charles Godfrey broke his left hand against the Dolphins in preseason.
Although he hopes to play with a cast on his hand week 1 versus the Eagles.
Let's just say it's a good thing Julius Peppers is still in a Panther uniform (franchise tag).
The Panthers are going to need Peppers and rookie Everette Brown to be pass rushing dynamos, in order to compensate for
Carolina's defensive injury woes.
Getting back to the offense,
Delhomme's Tommy John surgery last season was a success.
And he still has great chemistry with WR's Steve Smith and
Also last season's selection of Jeff Otah proved to be a great draft pick.
Between him and LT Jordan Gross,
the Panthers line up a pair of top notch tackles.
They paved the way for
DeAngelo Williams to have a monster season rushing the ball in '08.
The Panthers will need more of the same in '09.
The Panthers are solid on the interior of their O-line as well with Kalil, Wharton, and Vincent.
However, their offensive line lost good depth when Frank Omiyale
departed for Chicago.
As long as Carolina's starting offensive line stays healthy, the Panthers should once again put up
solid rushing numbers with Williams, Stewart, and newcomer
Mike Goodson (4th round draft pick) who looked great in preseason.
Given all of the Panthers' injury woes on defense, the Panthers would likely
benefit from a ball control approach, attempting to milk the clock
to keep their defense off the field.
In 2009 Carolina will play
an exceptionally difficult schedule due to playing in the competitive NFC South, and drawing the NFC East
amongst other reasons.
Making matters worse is the high volume of teams on the above list with strong rushing offenses.
This doesn't bode well for a team thin at defensive tackle.
Carolina has a great offense. But their defense is in turmoil due to injuries.
Overall we now project a record of (9-7) in 2009-- a two game downgrade
from our opening projection seen
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