2010 Carolina Panthers Season Preview

Over the course of the last five seasons, the Carolina Panthers have never won fewer than seven games, and have won as many as 12. Still, under head coach John Fox, the Panthers have never made back-to-back trips to the post-season. Continuing the theme of unpredictability, The 2010 Carolina Panthers Team Preview is just that. The Panthers will present a very different look in 2010, following several notable losses who had been staples in the organization for several years.

The Panthers followed up a 12-4 2008 season by finishing at .500, 8-8 in 2009 and missing out on a post-season berth. Carolina ranked in the bottom half of the league in scoring on offense, with 19.7 points per game. It was the passing game that was the weak-spot for the Panthers, who struggled at the quarterback position. The strength of the team was in the running back, as the team ranked third in the NFL in terms of rushing output. Following the loss of quarterback Jake Delhomme to Cleveland, Carolina will have to rely on inexperience at the position in 2010. This will continue to put a premium on the running game for the Panthers.

Defensively, the Panthers were tops in the NFC against the pass, allowing just 191 yards per contest. They were in the top-10 in total defense and scoring as well in the league, so it is clear that an improvement on the offensive side of the ball is necessary if Carolina hopes to contend in the NFC South Division. They tabbed a third-place finish behind New Orleans and Atlanta. Looking ahead at the 2010 Carolina Panthers Preview, there will be hurdles that need to be cleared for the Panthers to contend.
2010 Carolina Panthers Coaching Staff & ChangeFox is entering his ninth year as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, and despite no Super Bowl Championships to his credit, he has built a relatively consistent winner, making one Super Bowl Appearance and one NFC Championship during his tenure. Fox's contract was not renewed heading into 2010 which leads to believe that the productivity exhibited by the Panthers this year will go a long way in determining the future of Fox with the Carolina Organization.

With the exception of a new receivers coach in Tyke Tolbert, the Panthers coaching staff has remained in tact for now. Offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson will likely implement an offensive scheme that will lean heavily on running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, as both rushed for over 1,100 yards splitting time in the offensive backfield in 2009. The running game was the strength of the offense in 2009, and the 2010 Carolina Panthers Season Preview outlook in 2010 will be the same, run-first.
2010 Carolina Panthers Key Free Agency Acquisitions & LossesAcquistions
S - Aaron Francisco from Indianapolis Colts
CB - Marcus Hudson from San Francisco 49ers
DT - Ed Johnson from Indianapolis Colts
LB - Jamaar Williams traded from Chicago Bears

QB - Jake Delhomme to Cleveland Browns
DE - Julius Peppers to Chicago Bears
QB - A.J. Feely to St. Louis Rams
WR - Mushin Muhammad to Free Agency
CB - Dante Wesley to Detroit Lions
LB - Na'il Diggs to St. Louis Rams
S - Chris Harris traded to Chicago Bears 2010 Carolina Panthers NFL DraftRound 2: Pick 48 - QB, Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame)
Round 3: Pick 78 - WR, Brandon LaFell (LSU)
Round 3: Pick 89 - QB, Armanti Edwards (Appalachian State)
Round 4: Pick 124 - LB, Eric Norwood (South Carolina)
Round 6: Pick 175 - DE, Greg Hardy (Mississippi)
Round 6: Pick 198 - WR, David Gettis (Baylor)
Round 6: Pick 202 - DB, Jordan Pugh (Texas A&M)
Round 6: Pick 204 - QB, Tony Pike (Cincinnati)
Round 7: Pick 223 - DB, RJ Stanford (Utah)
Round 7: Pick 249 - DB, Robert McClain (Connecticut)
2010 Carolina Panthers QuarterbacksThere is one word that comes to mind when thinking of the crop of quarterbacks that the Panthers will play this season; inexperienced. In fact, of all 32 teams in the league, Carolina has the least experience at the quarterback position than all other teams. Matt Moore has nine starts in his career and ended 2009 as the starter. Still, Moore has started only nine games in his career. Carolina took three quarterbacks in the 2010 NFL Draft which if anything, shows that it will be a virtual open competition for the starting job, though Moore likely has the edge over second-round selection Jimmy Clausen out of Notre Dame and Tony Pike of Cincinnati. Additionally, the Panthers picked up Armanti Edwards out of Appalachian State to implement Wildcat Packages.

Moore tabbed a 6-2 record last season as the starter, including reeling off three-straight wins to end the regular season. He had a completion percentage of 61, and threw for 1,053 yards on the year with eight touchdowns to just two interceptions.

2010 Carolina Panthers Quarterback Depth Chart
QB - Matt Moore
QB - Jimmy Clausen
QB - Tony Pike 2010 Carolina Panthers Running BacksHands down, when looking at the 2010 Carolina Panthers Season Preview, the running back tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are the strength of the team. They duo was tops in the NFC and third in the league in rushing, at 156.1 yards per game. Williams was elected to the Pro Bowl last season, despite trailing Stewart in rush yards on the year. If anything, that should say something about the skill-set the Panthers have at running back. Defenses will no doubt game-plan to stop these two players and make Moore or whoever the starter is beat them. They set an NFL mark as the first pair of running back to accumulate at least 1,100 yards rushing in the same season on the same team. What makes these two players special is the fact that their running styles are vastly different. Williams is a north-south runner who looks for contact and to run over defenders, while Stewart is the opposite, trying to beat players to the corner and cutting through holes. It makes for a well-rounded, balanced running attack that will likely shine in 2010.

Projected 2010 Carolina Panthers Running Back Depth Chart
RB - DeAngelo Williams
RB - Jonathan Stewart2010 Carolina Panthers Wide ReceiversWhile he may not want to be the No.1 receiver in the offense, Steve Smith must accept his responsibility in the role and be the go-to guy for the Carolina quarterbacks. Smith is a big-play guy in spite of his size. He has great hands and can burn a secondary deep. The Panthers added to the receiver depth in the draft by selecting receiver Brandon LeFell out of LSU who could potentially be the No.2 receiver for the team. Additionally, the Panthers took Appalachian State QB Armanti Edwards. While Edwards will have Wild Cat packages for him, he will also be switched to the receiver position due to his athleticism. Dwyane Jarret is another receiver who would make a push for the No.2 receiver, though he has failed to live up to expectations in the first three season of his NFL career.

Projected 2010 Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver Depth Chart
WR - Steve Smith
WR - Dwyane Jarret
- Kenneth Moore
WR - Brandon LaFell

Projected 2010 Carolina Panthers Tight End Depth Chart
TE - Jeff King
TE - Gary Barnidge2010 Carolina Panthers Offensive LineThe offensive line of the Panthers are responsible for the highest output and production in team history in 2009, when Carolina rushed for 2,500 yards. Ryan Kalil and Jeff Gross lead the way for the Panthers heading into 2010 as a unit that will need to provide Moore and the rest of the young quarterbacks with time in the pocket and a chance to make plays through the air, in addition to the running game. Jeff Otah comes back from an injury that ended his season in November, and at 6'6, is a huge body to push forward in run production. The offensive line for the Panthers should be a strength for the team looking ahead to 2010, but will need to be even better than they were in 2009.

Projected 2010 Carolina Panthers Starting Offensive Line
LT - Jordan Gross
LG - Travelle Wharton
C - Ryan Kalil
RG - Mackenzy Bernadeau
RT - Jeff Otah2010 Carolina Panthers Defensive LineThe Panthers lost some serious production on the defensive front when Julius Peppers went to Chicago as a free agent. Peppers is arguably the most athletic defensive end in the entire league, and to replace him is a tall-task to say the least. Of the four starters on the front line in 2009, only one will return, in defensive end Tyler Brayton. Second-year end Everette Brown out of Florida State will be asked to fill in for Peppers. There will be several questions that the defensive front four will need to answer heading into the 2010 NFL season, looking ahead at the Carolina Panthers 2010 NFL Season Preview.

Projected 2010 Carolina Panthers Starting Defensive Line
DE - Tyler Brayton
- Tank Tyler
DT - Louis Leonard
DE - Everette Brown2010 Carolina Panthers LinebackersThe Panthers are very talented in the linebacker department, headlined by Jon Beason. Beason led the team in tackles a year ago, and is an aggressive, yet smart player who can play the ball and stop the run. Thomas Davis is the best pass rusher of the group, and probably the fastest, however he will not take the field in 2010 after suffering a devastating setback during recovery of his torn ACL. At this point, it looks as if James Anderson will step in to fill the void left at the weak side linebacker position. Carolina drafted Eric Norwood out of South Carolina as a potential starter to add to the depth at the position. The linebacking corps is likely the strength of the defense on the whole, responsible for making it difficult on opposing quarterbacks to complete passes.

Projected 2010 Carolina Panthers Starting Linebackers
SLB - Dan Connor
- Jon Beason
WLB - James Anderson
2010 Carolina Panthers SecondaryThe duo of Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall headline the secondary that helped lead Carolina to the top of the NFC in terms of passing yards allowed. Each had four interceptions a season ago and can make the big play. Free Safety Charles Godfrey is a big hitter and aggressive player and can play a role in the stopping the run as well. All in all, the secondary of the Panthers looks similar to last year, and they meshed well together as a defensive unit.

Projected 2010 Carolina Panthers Starting Seconday
CB - Chris Gamble
CB - Richard Marshall
SS - Sherrod Martin
FS - Charles Godfrey

2010 Carolina Panthers Preview