Carolina Panthers off-season needs.
Based on how the 2008 season occurred, how we finished, and the changes that have been made, I have written this article about what the Panthers need to do in the off-season to be most successful in 2009.
1. Firstly the Panthers do not need to draft a receiver in the early rounds.
Here's what people are forgetting Muhsin Muhammad had a fantastic season for a No. 2 wideout. He was a great complement to Steve Smith, and provided veteran leadership to a team that was much younger than the last Panther team Moose played for. Here's a few stats for you Muhammad had over 900 yards this season. That's more than DeSean Jackson, and T.J. Housmandzadeh. He also ranked sixth in the league in yardage for all NUMBER TWO receivers, behind Wes Welker, Donald Driver, Steve Breaston, Eddie Royal, and Lance Moore.
2. What the Panthers do need is a good pass catching tight end. The last time the Panthers had a premier pass catching tight end was Wesley Walls, who played for us from 1995-2002.
Some people don't realize just how valuable a tight end can be, but I believe many reasons why were exposed in the playoff game versus the Cardinals. Many of Delhomme's interceptions were from him trying to force passes into a blanketed Steve Smith.
A security blanket type tight end would have aleviated some of that pressure, and made for more managable third down situations, for our prolific rushing attack. It would have also forced the Cardinals to think about rolling a guy off of Smith. Without that many picks the game could have been ours. Remember the Cardinals scored 23 points off turnover, nearly all their total production.
3. Franchise Peppers and trade him for a first round pick. It is clear now that Peppers does not want to stay in Carolina any longer. Sad as it is to say we must let go of him. It is true that he has given us 70.5 sacks in his star studded career, but if he's unhappy then he should be allowed to leave, but they can't make the mistake of just letting him walk. They need to get some draft picks in exchange for him, and possibly think about drafting another defensive end, or continuing to build the defense around Jon Beason.
4. Draft a cornerback!!! It became clear down the stretch that our defense got tired, but the true cause was not rush defense, but our secondary. We were consistently burned, or allowed opposing receivers to post big numbers. Chris Harris was great, but the cornerback spot, and possibly free safety spot is a big concern and one that should be addressed.
Finally a note to all Panthers fans don't panic if we get off to a slow start, after having so many changes in the assistant coaching ranks, their may be continuity issues, but I have confidence that it will be resolved after a few weeks.