NFL 2016: The Complete Collapse of the Carolina Panthers
A year ago, the Carolina Panthers won 15 regular season games and reached the Super Bowl. Now the team is one setback away from a 10-loss season.
The Carolina Panthers have now spent 22 years on the field. And they have still failed to have back-to-back winning seasons. Many felt it would be much different this year. Alas, after posting a 15-1 record in 2015 and coming up one game short of winning an NFL championship, Ron Rivera’s club owns a 6-9 record heading into their season finale at Tampa.
How did it all come apart for a team that was virtually unstoppable at times one season ago?
Right off the bat, we’re not here to blame the 2015 league MVP for the team’s poor showing. Quarterback Cam Newton’s play, along with the erratic performance of the team’s defensive unit, has combined to undo what was accomplished last season.
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First there’s Newton. He’s taken a bit of a beating this year and it looks like it has taken its toll. He missed the Week 5 Monday night meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 14 games this season, he has connected on only 52.7 percent of his throws. The six-year pro has thrown 18 touchdown passes compared to 11 interceptions while rushing for five scores.
It was just a year ago that Newton overcame a slow start but finished with 35 aerial scores as well as 10 touchdown runs. He was picked off only 10 times and had a very-respectable 59.8 completion percentage. And this as a club that turned over the football only 19 times last season. Ron Rivera’s squad has already coughed up the football 26 times in 15 contests.
It has also been a disappointing year for the defense. A team that allowed only 308 points last season has already upped that total by 77 this year (385). With Luke Kuechly out the last few weeks, Thomas Davis has done his best to hold down the fort. Carolina has allowed 37 offensive touchdowns in 15 games, five more than all of last season.
And minus 2015 All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman, the Panthers have given up 26 scores through the air after allowing just 21 touchdown passes last season.
A lot has gone wrong for the defending NFC champions in 2016. It will be interesting to see if they can regroup this offseason.