Carolina Panthers 2013 Breakout Player Projections

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May 30, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton throws a pass during the practice held at the Carolina Panthers practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers were projected by some as one of the potential breakout teams in the NFL last season after Cam Newton’s stellar rookie campaign, but that didn’t prove to be the case as Ron Rivera’s squad found itself picking in the top 15 again.

With the roster the Panthers have, it is a bit surprising they weren’t able to be stronger contenders for the playoffs last season, but I think a lot of it had to do with the attitude and mindset of their leader, former Heisman-Trophy winner Cam Newton.

With a solid 2013 draft class, the Panthers appear once again ready to possibly make that playoff run. They play in one of the more up-and-coming divisions in football with the established Falcons and one of my sleeper teams in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not to mention, with Sean Payton back on the sidelines, I think the Saints will be much better as well.

This is a big year for the Panthers, and they are going to need some breakout seasons from a few players. Here are three of the candidates to have a huge year for the Panthers, one from each of the last three draft classes.

Third Year — Cam Newton, QB

In basically every way, Newton was worse in his second NFL season than he was as a rookie. Passing yardage, touchdowns, completion percentage, and rushing touchdowns were all areas Newton blew people away in as a rookie, and then got a little worse in 2012.

I think a lot of it had to do with Newton’s attitude. From the time he left Auburn, he was a Heisman Trophy winner, National Championship winner, first overall pick, rookie of the year who had everything going for him. When the going got tough, he became a bit of a baby, and that attitude rubbed the rest of the team wrong and it ended up costing the Panthers victories.

Newton had to re-focus this offseason and dropped some weight, and has taken charge as the leader of the team, and I think he is poised for a breakout season. The Panthers plan to run a more up-tempo offense, and there is no doubt that the former number one overall pick will be the focus. He should be in line for a big 2013 season.

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Tags: Breakout Players Carolina Panthers NFL Draft

  • ahrcshaw

    Newton has and had his problems no question about it, but not because of being a big head. The Problem with the Panthers last year was coaching, play calling, call it what you want but Chud did not build on his success in 2011. Not only did Chud and Rivera have the wrong offensive game plan they failed to make modifications based on the lack of success. To top things off, Chud totally ignored the strengths of the players, with one exception Cam, and one player does not win football games on his own.

    Without a lot of player additions, watch what the Panthers offense does this year and watch the difference in Shula’s game calling from that of Chud’s. With the play action as opposed to the run option watch Cam’s passing stats grow. If I were to coach Cam Newton I would say to him look at Brady, which is almost the opposite of what Chud wanted, play action run pass short, play action run pass short. play action run pass short, then boom gotcha.

    There is no question a QB has a lot to do with the offense clicking, no question Cam hurt the team sometimes, but there is no question Chud hurt both Cam and the Team until someone either told him to get back to basics or get out. There is no question in my mind something took place after the 1st 6 games last year and it was not Cam’s attitude or that of any player.

  • ahrcshaw

    No question Josh Norman should improve over last year as well as some of the other young guys that were thrown into to mix after the season was lost in the first 8 games. That was a smart coaching move on Rivera’s part and the DC because it gave them all game time experiences. What will really help the whole DB’s group as a whole is going to be the improvement of the D line and the experience of the LB’s. The DB’s as a young group did well last year, but this year they will be a whole lot better because (1) they will not have to tackle so many running backs, and (2) the QB will not be able to stand back there and pick them apart. The front 7, with their upgrade should almost be a shutdown defense, they have talent in the starters and depth. I would say Josh Thomas will also have a breakout season, and Godfrey might have a super season.

    The fact is that is a lot of Ifs, if the D line plays, if the offense plays, if Cam plays, but one thing is for sure this team has a different tone about themselves and IF each group sets the tone they will win a lot of games. A good play on defense creates a good play on offense and a good play on special teams creates good plays on both Defense and Offense. It all starts with setting the tone of the game.

  • ahrcshaw

    I surly hope Lotulelei plays well and I think he will, I also think Short and the other backups will shine as well on the D line, it looks like they are going to have a lot of excellent depth, so they will not miss a beat. With the experience and new players this front 7 is going to be devastating on defense which will challenge the offense for supremacy, an internal rivalry, which is great for the team. Go Panthers.