Carolina Panthers 2019 season
In the 2019 NFL Season the Carolina Panthers finished a disappointing 5-11. Looking just at the record, most will say the Panthers were a bad team, with poor defensive depth who under-performed throughout the year in big spots.
Many of the losses for the Panthers were very close games that had the fans biting their nails down to the last second. There were seemingly multiple games that ended within one score, leaving the Panthers on the losing side due to key mistakes throughout the game.
Better coaching with fewer mistakes from the players, the Panthers record flips with every game that is one possession loss. Totaling the final record ends with 10-6 with a playoff spot for the Panthers. Starting from week two, if not for injuries of Cam Newton and other key players, the Panthers fight through the playoffs and Ron Rivera does not get fired. This might have kept the Panthers core from the last decade intact for a few more years.
Let’s take a look back at the 2019 Carolina Panthers season with a healthy team and turn some of those key moments on their head. Here are two games that would have impacted the success of the Panther’s season. What could have been?
Week 2 versus the Buccaneers
Week two for the Panthers was a heartbreaking loss to the divisional rival. Playing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, former Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton re-aggravated his foot injury in the middle of the game. The injury would cause Newton to sit out the rest of the NFL season starting week three and affect the final minutes of this game.
In this game against the Buccaneers, there were not too many mistakes. However, it was just painfully obvious that the offensive line did not play well; leading to the injury to Newton. On top of this, the defense gave up plays that could have been made with discipline and effort.
No more Superman?
Losing by just six points in a 20-14 game, in which the Panthers had the ball on the one-yard line in the final minute of the fourth quarter was heartbreaking. Everybody watching was expecting Newton to jump over the offensive line for a touchdown as he has been doing for years. The Panthers instead decided to run to the sideline with Christian McCaffrey, who would be stopped behind the line of scrimmage, allowing the Buccaneers to run out the clock to win the game.
If Cam Newton is healthy at the end of that game, he is able to hit the invisible launch pad on the field and spring into the end zone to give his team a 21-20 lead.
With a win here, the Panthers would have started out the season 2-0. They would win the next four games of the season behind Newton instead of quarterback Kyle Allen and could have started out 6-0. The momentum heading into Santa Clara in Week 8 to play against the San Francisco 49ers might have made the 51-13 demolishing more competitive.
Week 10 versus the Packers
Heading into week nine, Carolina traveled to Lambeau Field to play against the Green Bay Packers. In another game where the Panthers are fighting to keep it close, the final score was 24-16.
With many mistakes from the defense giving up big plays and key penalties, the game was always going to be an uphill struggle. This was compounded by Kyle Allen throwing an interception in the end zone and losing a fumble at midfield.
Despite a dreadful performance, the Panthers were able to drive down the field for a possible game tying touchdown in the dying moments. However, the offense was once again stymied by a tough Packers defensive line with no time left. In a similar situation as the Buccaneers game, having a healthy Newton at quarterback changes the game in the end. The Panthers would have the option to run Newton into the end zone or hand off to McCaffrey. Having this option available would have kept the Packers’ defense guessing between Newton and McCaffrey, making it easier for the Panthers to pick up the necessary yard to keep themselves in the game.
With different coaching calls, having a starting caliber quarterback and not being careless with the football, the Panthers could be looking at escaping the tundra of Lambeau with a W. This is the third close game the Panthers could have won in the 2019 season, bringing their record to a possible 8-1.
Final stretch of the season
After the week 10 loss the Panthers record stood at 5-4. They then lost their last 7 games to finish out the season. With a healthy team and caring coach, the Panthers could change the narrative of a few of those final games. After big wins against the Buccaneers and the Packers, the final stretch changes drastically. Now the Panthers head into week 11 with a 7-2 record. Momentum is changed and morale is high. With this momentum, they later win what were close games against the Washington Football Team, the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints. In this alternate universe, the Panthers season with a 10-6 record and a chance at the wild card round.
Concluding the Carolina Panthers 2019 season
The destruction of the team last season seemingly starts with former Head Coach Ron Rivera. Seeming to not care about the team throughout the season, the team was destined to fail. This lack of effort led to Rivera’s removal as coach before the end of the season, leading to some big changes.
Looking forward to the 2020 Carolina Panthers
Now with a new quarterback, an infusion of defense talent, and a brand new coaching staff, the future is bright. Panthers Head Coach Matt Rhule signed Teddy Bridgewater as the Panthers’ future quarterback for the next two years. Being a more steady quarterback and better decision maker, Bridgewater would win a few of those close games last season. The defense is younger and faster as well, after losing players that contributed to the horrendous defense last season.
Kawann Short coming back from Injured Reserve gives another big body defensive lineman up front and a veteran presence. Although most predict that the Panthers will be the bottom of the league this season, do not be surprised if the Panthers are around a .500 win percentage by the end of the year.
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