Don’t fire any of the coaching staff
There are probably some Panthers’ fans out there that wish this would happen. After winning the division last year, this team has underachieved in 2014. The coaching staff will be under some heavy evaluations at the end of the season.
However, to make a change mid-season would not be a smart move considering the fact that the Carolina Panthers still have a chance to make the playoffs. The fact that they have three wins and only one in the last nine weeks and are still in contention is a miracle.
NFL coaches’ game plans and schemes are very in-depth and it will take some teams a whole season before they fully grasp a coach’s scheme. If the Panthers were to make a switch, they would be basically throwing in the towel on this season and turn their focus to 2015.
As long as the team has a chance at the division and making the playoffs, the Panthers need to continue to work towards that goal.
Develop a game plan that involves Philly Brown
One move that the Panther did make this week was releasing veteran Jason Avant. This should mean increased playing time for Philly Brown; however that doesn’t necessarily mean a bigger role if the Panthers keep the same offense.
To this point in the season, Avant was on the field for 55% of the Panthers offensive plays but only saw an average of 3.6 targets per game. Brown brings a level of speed to this offense that has been lacking but it won’t mean anything if he is not involved in the offense.
If the Panthers are able to call five to eight plays a game for Brown, either on deep go-routes or crossing routes underneath, it will put stress on the defense. They are going to have to account for his speed, which should push the secondary back from the line of scrimmage, and hopefully create more running room for the running backs.
Establish the Offensive Line
There has been no consistency along the offensive line, due in some to injury and some to poor performance, which has made this group struggle. The Panthers have a play-maker at quarterback in Cam Newton but he has constantly been under pressure and unable to make the necessary plays.
The coaching staff is going to need to take a look at the pieces they have and find the best starting five offensive linemen. The team has already lost their starting right tackle Nate Chandler for the year so it is sure to make things a little tougher.
The left side of the offensive line should be pretty well set with Byron Bell at left tackle, Andrew Norwell at left guard and Ryan Kalil at center. Norwell, the undrafted rookie, has played well the past few weeks and has earned that spot.
The right side is where there is trouble for the Panthers. At the right guard position, rookie Trai Turner started the game against the Falcons however was pulled after the first series and replaced with Chris Scott. Going forward, Turner is probably the best option physically for the right guard position however it remains to be seen if he has enough experience.
If Turner gets the start, that would leave David Foucault, Chris Scott and Mike Remmers as the main options to replace Chandler. Foucault, is another undrafted rookie, who got the start at left tackle against the Saints but gave up two sacks, one QB hit and six QB hurries according to Pro Football Focus. There is potential there with Foucault however he is not ready to be a starter in the NFL.
The Panthers brought Remmers over from the Rams practice squad at the end of October to provide depth at the tackle position. He would be in a similar position of Foucault where the lack of NFL experience could be hinder this group. This would leave Chris Scott as potentially the best player to replace Chandler at right tackle.
Whatever starting five the Panthers decide to go with they need to give them as much practice time as possible to gain some familiarity with their teammates. If they can do that, they should be much stronger the last five weeks of the season.
Figure out who should start opposite Josh Norman
The Panthers have had trouble figuring out who they want to start opposite Josh Norman at the cornerback position. Since Norman came back in Week 8, Antoine Cason has started three of the four games however there was a stretch from halftime during the New Orleans game to halftime in the Philadelphia game where he didn’t see much of the field.
Melvin White replaced Cason during this stretch and got the start against the Eagles. However, White did not perform much better than Cason which is probably why the coaching staff decided to go back to Cason against the Falcons.
The secondary has been the biggest weak point for the Panthers defense this year as quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and even Mark Sanchez have put up huge numbers. The defensive coaching staff needs to decide who they have more faith in and stick with that player over the final five games.