Question: What are your realistic 2009 season expectations for the Carolina Panthers?
Answer: Let me gather my thoughts by diverting you into the definitions of the words expectations and realistic.
Expectations-A prospect of future good or profit. Well, I believe Mr. Richardson, the team owner will profit just fine. Sidenote, Mr. Richardson made an appearance at practice yesterday, seeming to be feeling quite well after his Heart Transplant Surgery, but I digress. Initially, you might think a team coming off of a 12-4 season, albeit with a shocking Divisional Round Play-off loss, should have plenty of reason to expect future good.But after the last two 11-5 Seasons, 03 and 05, the team responded with an 7-9 mark and 8-8 mark respectively. Now, 12 is 1 greater than 11, so may we expect better from the 09 team? Hind sight is 20/20, which is pretty good, so lets re-examine the end of the 08 season.
Before the Arizona Cardinal play-off meltdown, the Panthers lost a key match-up against the Giants which would have gained them Home-Field through out the NFC Play-offs. They also beat a depleted Saints squad, and a Train-Wreck Denver team to close it out. Now, this is the NFL, and you need not apologize for any W's, but maybe our 12-4 was a little deceiving.
Prospects of future good will be affected by opponets played, when and where, and the schedule maker did the Panthers no favors here. November 29 @ NY Jets, December 13 @ New England Patriots, and December 27 @ NY Giants, does not give me the warm and fuzzies, just sayin. Add in the ultra-competeitive division the Panthers are in, and my expectations are moderate. Moderate Defined? Mediocre or fair, in this case, 8-8.
Question: What will it take to exceed them(expectations), and what obstacles could cause the team to fall short?
Anaswer: To exceed an 8-8 season, to win the NFC South, and to play deep into January, and beyond, the Panthers will need better QB play, and a continuation of the dominant at time running game. If you saw the week 14 effort against Tampa Bay, you know what I am speaking of. Football as any of the Old School coaches, (see Hayes,W., Lombardi,V) would truly appreciate. Now, you can not run that effectively all the time, so you need a passing game. Delhomme's season was passable(sorry), at best, and the play-off game was reminiscent of Burt Reynolds 3rd Quarter in The Longest Yard. Maybe Jake needed more recovery time, or it was just a bad night, but the Panthers need better play.
Obstacles to meeting the expectations? Julius Peppers and his level of commitment ih he decides to join the team. Brutal Schedule is another. Integration of a New Coaching Staff, and a Target on their Back are others. Beyond that, they have few issues