Regardless of what happened against San Francisco, it was a successful
year for Carolina. And they had to dig to get to it.
Yesterday, with Panthers coaches in the Pro Bowl and seven players
participating, it was a far cry from the end of their first month.
They'd had a few good moments - a good draft, for instance - and some
good bargain shopping on one year deals to get around a $16 million
deficit. But to that point, success wasn't there. 1-3, and rumors
swirled that Dave Gettleman was already vetting future coaches.
11-2 including the playoff loss since (a statistic that remains high
following the release of Armanti Edwards as well), with a fairly
successful season since. The team has grown some high powered players,
though mostly on defense.
The team has tons of work to do, mostly in keeping a few of those
players and hanging onto a few that are still under contract; it has to
up its passing game on both sides of the ball with minimal resources.
But, going from potential full-on rebuild and new coaches to potential
extensions is, hopefully, a good trend.
It never gets easier in the NFL. Every world champion, including the
one to be crowned a week from now, gets only so much time to enjoy it,
having to patch coaching staff and try to hold onto their guys while
improving. It's a tough league for the best team in the game and it's
only tougher for everyone below them. But Carolina, hopefully, has
turned a corner at least.