I was interested in digging through the position groups with ideas on
whether the team has improved or not. With the team somewhat set, the
challenge becomes 2014 on paper versus 2013 in practice.
Another year together. Ron Rivera improved greatly into 2013 based on
in-game decision making. Net loss - Lance Taylor, assistant WRs coach.
Net gain - senior assistant John Ramsdell. So, win. As well, a few
question marks (LBs coach Al Holcomb, QBs coach Ken Dorsey, WRs coach
Ricky Proehl) have another year under their belts, and proved more asset
than liability. The offense picks up some needed experience and the
defense didn't change.
The key pieces return, I don't expect anything other than Cam Newton and
Derek Anderson to be on the team. Joe Webb is interesting but
insignificant. I'll throw a little love this way because of increased
experience, but Newton has a lot on his plate and has to start making
more deep plays happen again.
This one's shaky. More age than you might want, more money than you
might want. Deangelo Williams re-established last year as a good base
back, but Jonathan Stewart had a very shaky year only a season out from
getting a new contract and being named the top guy. Mike Tolbert does
always add a great wildcard to it, and Tyler Gaffney might be a lot
better for this team than Kenjon Barner. IMPROVED for that fact alone
and just on the 50/50 chance Stewart does play. But this could still go
This is hard to say. Greg Olsen had a good year last year, and no one's
going to take many of his targets. I don't know if Ed Dickson is a good
replacement for Ben Hartsock, one of the league's better blockers at TE,
but Hartsock was starting to become less reliable and was never a
receiving threat. The team could always just throw a lineman out there
for that. Dickson's potential comes in receiving, and the team does
finally have a competent player that could spell Olsen there. But
until I see how it comes together,
Carolina thoroughly overhauled everything, so there's no constant at
all. I believe there's less talent, but more ability. I believe
there's a better fit there - the players that worked better in the
vertical stuff Rob Chudzinski did, didn't work as well here. Ted Ginn
cleaned up the deep stuff, but it wasn't there much and the success rate
went down. This year's group is all potential, of course, but they run
strong routes, they execute well. They're more efficient. I assume
Jason Avant in the slot, where he's best, and Jerricho Cotchery having
to take on more work on the outside. Tiquan Underwood, at the least, is
a deep man that has potential to do more. I caution the reader to not
expect too much of Kelvin Benjamin, but he could at the least be a
redzone and third down jump ball guy. Honestly I love the idea of just
giving Newton a packaged play where he can hand off, run himself, or
chuck it at Benjamin on a slant, for every third down ever. A guess,
A potential disaster. You really only know who two starters truly are,
Ryan Kalil and Byron Bell. Maybe you pencil in Amini Silatolu, assume
Bell is a LT and you have the left three.
But, the right side isn't all bad. Trai Turner might have some growing
pains, but I'd almost want to pencil him in as an immediate upgrade, not
only because he's powerful, but also because he's not seven different
guys. Having Nate Chandler and Garry Williams at OT is what's holding
down the rest, and who knows how that, or Bell at LT, will go. Depth at
C, depending on Turner playing inside as needed, could lack, too. Best
case? Bell is an adequate LT, and competition makes the rest happen.
Williams is a good pass blocker at RT, and looked OK as a run blocker
before getting hurt at G. But until then, there are a lot of questions
They return everyone and added Kony Ealy, who allows the team to keep
both starting ends and have a good end rushing inside. No purpose in
belaboring this, IMPROVED.
I don't know what to say. Hard to get better, they don't need to get
I'm hesitant. Antoine Cason is really talented. They might not have
lost much on Captain Munnerlyn there - that might be an unpopular
opinion, but Cason might be the steal of Carolina's free agency so far
and I wish he'd signed for two years instead. They don't really have a
nickel, and I'll see Charles Godfrey do well there before I'll call that
a good thing. Bene Benwikere is the other option, so there's not much.
Melvin White probably got stronger and learned how to be a pro, so
hopefully that helps.
I like what's here. Mike Mitchell was a unique guy there, a SS playing
a good FS. Now they have two guys fitting better the intended roles.
Thomas Decoud will improve under this front seven, and Roman Harper can
make plays in the box. My downgrade worry would be Harper being awful
in coverage, but Quintin Mikell wasn't great, he just knew the system.
No clue who the returners will be. Everything else is the same.
A lot can and will change. Again I'm comparing paper versus production.
But, I think the downgrades aren't all catastrophic, just the loss of
Jordan Gross makes that OL a hard sell. Otherwise, I think this team is
doing a good job of finding players that fit their scheme and at low