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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

OPINION: Men’s Basketball just won’t back down
Abigail Taylor, Contributing writer • February 27, 2024

What’s Next For The Carolina Panthers?

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Taken by Olson Grier

Panthers look at prospects

January was a big month for the Carolina Panthers. Headline news for the team included Luke Kuechly’s announcement that he is done with football, which was followed by Greg Olsen’s announcement only 16 days later that his nine-year stint with the team was over. After Ron Rivera was fired in late Dec., Matt Rhule’s hire in early January was a move from a defense-minded coach to a coach that helped turn Baylor’s program around in three years. 

With a 5-11 season–despite an MVP-like performance from Christian McCaffrey–the team is expected to welcome Rhule’s new coaching focus. 

Rhule has NFL experience, but is regarded most recently for having turned Baylor’s program from a 1-12 team into a College Football Playoff contender, just missing the fourth spot. Given his offensively-oriented approach, he’ll likely work to get receivers and running backs more involved.

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The team’s other new hire, Joe Brady, will hopefully complement Rhule’s approach. Brady, the youngest offensive coordinator in the NFL, helped coach LSU to the National Championship in Jan. as their passing game coordinator. The offensive experience between Brady and Rhule serves as a sign of revitalization of the Panthers’ offense after a season that averaged only 21.3 points per game in 2019.

Despite a feeling of defeat within the Carolina Panthers community, brought on by both the expected and unexpected changes within both staff and players and a losing season, the NFL team of the Carolinas has a number of things to look forward to.

For one, Carolina has the 7 pick in a strong draft class. It’s hard to know who the Panthers will pick when they’re on the clock three months from now, but versatile and defensive first round picks such as Derrick Brown (Auburn, DT) and Isaiah Simmons (Clemson, LB) may help mend the growing defensive holes.

As for Christian McCaffrey’s performance–he’s the third player in NFL history to accomplish 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season. How does he do it? He holds onto the football; he makes defenders miss; his size, speed, and underestimated strength make him the perfect competitor.

Additionally, Panthers fans have been anticipating the return of Cam Newton, who sat out nearly the entire season due to an extended period of rehabilitation and recovery from Lisfranc surgery. The silver lining in the 2015 MVP’s injury is that, during this time, he’s been able to condition his shoulder. With one year left in his contract, any number of folks are eager to see him play again.

Wofford will also see Newton back on campus. After Wofford’s contract to hold the team’s annual training camp expired in 2019, the Panthers’ new owner, Dave Tepper, expressed plans to keep the team closer to Charlotte for summer practice. However, incomplete construction for the state-of-the-art practice facility in Rock Hill rendered it possible for the Panthers to return to Spartanburg for Summer 2020. This will be the team’s 26 consecutive training camp at Wofford.

Written by Julia Funderburk, contributing writer

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