Panthers' Final Report Card: Offensive Line

The Carolina Panthers offensive line was one of turmoil for most of the season before the bye week. After the team made some changes, some due to injury, the group improved by leaps and bounds the final seven weeks of the season. Here are the grades for the Panthers' offensive line for 2014.

Byron Bell

2014 Stats: 15 regular season starts, 9 QB sacks allowed, 5 QB hits allowed, 38 QB hurries allowed

Best Game: Week 1 at Tampa Bay

Worst Game: Week 10 at Philadelphia

Notes: After spending the first three years of his career at right tackle with the Panthers, he made the switch to left tackle in 2014. The results were certainly mixed and the Panthers front office will have a tough decision to make about whether or not to bring Bell back, who is a free agent this offseason. He finished the year allowing 11 quarterback sacks but played much better during the Panthers six game win streak, allowing only one sack in that stretch. He certainly improved over the last part of the year and the decision to bring him back may come down to whether the two sides can agree on a salary for him. The improved play at the end of the year certainly helped his final grade.

Final Grade: C

 

Andrew Norwell

2014 Stats: 9 regular season starts, 1 QB sack allowed, 1 QB hit allowed, 13 QB hurries allowed

Best Game: Week 14 versus Cleveland

Worst Game: Week 11 versus Atlanta

Notes: The undrafted rookie took over for the injured Silatolu and kept the starting guard position for the remainder of the season after Week 7. He was certainly a big part in the improved play of the Panthers’ offensive line. He allowed one sack in his first playing time of the year against Green Bay but didn’t allow another sack the rest of the year. He not only excelled in pass protection but also did an excellent job blocking on running plays. Norwell has the quickness to pull on counter run plays as well as get outside on screen plays. He should certainly be the starting left guard for the Panthers next season.

Final Grade: A

 

Ryan Kalil

2014 Stats: 16 regular season starts, 3 QB sacks allowed, 1 QB hits allowed, 20 QB hurries

Best Game: Week 11 versus Atlanta

Worst Game: Week 10 at Philadelphia

Notes: The veteran center was the only linemen on the Panthers to start every game in 2014. He is the leader and the anchor of this group and once again played at a very high level. Over the final 13 games, including the playoffs, he only allowed one sack but run blocking is the area that Kalil really got the job done. According to Pro Football Focus, Kalil was the fifth best rated center in run blocking with a positive rating of 13.8. The combination of Norwell and Kalil makes it difficult for opposing defensive linemen trying to get to the Panthers running backs behind the line of scrimmage.

Final Grade: A

 

Trai Turner

2014 Stats: 9 regular season starts, 0 QB sacks allowed, 5 QB hits allowed, 9 QB hurries allowed

Best Game: Week 15 versus Tampa Bay

Worst Game: Week 6 at Cincinnati

Notes: Unlike Norwell, Turner was a key contributor on the Panthers offensive line right from the start of the season. The third-round rookie would rotate with veteran Fernando Velasco earlier in the season before being named the starter in Week 5. Aside from an injury suffered against the Packers, Turner was the Panthers’ starting right guard. Unlike Norwell and Kalil, Turner’s strength was certainly in pass protection. In 825 snaps in 2014 he did not allow a single sack and was only one of seven guards in the NFL who played at least 50% of their team’s snaps to accomplish that feat. The Panthers’ front office should feel very confident about the interior of their offensive line in 2015 and beyond.

Final Grade: A

 

Mike Remmers

2014 Stats: 5 regular season starts, 0 QB sacks allowed, 1 QB hit allowed, 4 QB hurries allowed

Best Game: Week 15 versus Tampa Bay

Worst Game: Week 17 at Atlanta

Notes: The story of Mike Remmers has to be one of the best from 2014. After spending time with five different organizations in his two year professional career, the Panthers signed Remmers off the Rams’ practice squad halfway through the year. The Panthers’ plan was to have Silatolu replace the injured Chandler at right tackle during the bye week however Silatolu was not healthy enough in Week 13. This opened the door for Remmers to start and he never looked back. He provided a stability to the right tackle position that had been missing most of the year. Similar to Turner, the right tackle did not allow a single QB sack all year and only one QB hit in five starts.

Final Grade: A

 

Amini Silatolu

2014 Stats: 7 regular season starts, 6 QB sacks allowed, 1 QB hit allowed, 7 QB hurries allowed

Best Game: Week 5 versus Chicago

Worst Game: Week 10 at Philadelphia

Notes: Silatolu started out the year as the Panthers left guard but had a number of injuries that kept him off the field and eventually opened the door for Norwell and Remmers. The injuries weren’t the only thing that Silatolu struggled with as he wasn’t very good when he was on the field in 2014. He finished the year allowing six sacks in only seven starts this year and Pro Football Focus gave him an overall rating of -7.1. The fact that Norwell and Turner played so well for the Panthers this past season, it is hard to imagine a way, barring an injury, of Silatolu starting for this offense next season.

Final Grade: D-

 

Nate Chandler

2014 Stats: 11 regular season starts, 7 QB sacks allowed, 2 QB hits allowed, 22 QB hurries allowed

Best Game: Week 3 versus Pittsburgh

Worst Game: Week 4 at Baltimore

Notes: Similar to Silatolu, Nate Chandler dealt with injuries but also struggled on the field when he was healthy. Chandler’s season was cut short after the Panthers placed him on injured reserve due to a right knee injury heading into their bye week in Week 12.

Final Grade: D

 

*All stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted.


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