What Can Panthers Expect from Oher in 2015?

Michael Oher is expected to be the starting left tackle for the Carolina Panthers. What can Panthers' expect from Oher at left tackle in 2015? Publisher Brandon Croce goes all the way back to 2012 to find out the answer.

For the third straight season, the Carolina Panthers will open the season with a new starting left tackle. The team hoped Byron Bell would be the answer to replace Jordan Gross, who retired after the 2013 season. Unfortunately he wasn’t and the team decided to move on with Bell leaving in free agency.

The organization hopes they found the answer to their problem with the signing of Michael Oher. The former first round pick was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2009 and spent the first five years of his career with the team before playing last season with the Tennessee Titans.

Oher’s 2014 season was cut short due to a toe injury. The Titans decided to release him after playing only one season of a four-year deal.

The former Ole Miss Rebel started his career bouncing between left and right tackle but has played right tackle exclusively the past two years. This doesn’t concern the Panthers as The Charlotte Observer’s Jonathan Jones wrote there will be no open competition for left tackle and it is Oher’s job.

If he makes it through the 2015 season as the team’s starting left tackle it will only be the second time this has happened in Oher’s career. He started 15 games in 2012 for the Ravens at left tackle but switched to right tackle for the final five games, including the Super Bowl.


Left Tackle Starts

Right Tackle Starts






















Left Tackle

Right Tackle

Pro Football Focus Career Ratings





*Stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus

To see what kind of player Oher was at left tackle, you would have to go back all the way to the Ravens’ Super Bowl run. One of his highest rated games on Pro Football Focus came in the first week of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals.

After watching the film, it is apparent why.

The one thing that stood out watching this game against the Cincinnati Bengals was his agility and his ability to move on the field. On this run play, Oher is able to get to the second level and put a block on a linebacker to help spring Ray Rice for a 13-yard run.

The athleticism is on display on this screen pass as well, as he able to get to the outside and throw a block.

These characteristics also helped Oher in pass protection, sliding to the outside and not allowing pass rushers to get by. After watching this game and some of his games with the Titans, there is a clear difference between his movement from 2012 and 2014.

Against the Cowboys, in the second picture, he is still able to get outside but is off balance. It will be curious to see how much is because of his ability and how much of it is due to the injury.

The hope is the toe injury is a thing of the past with the surgery this offseason and he can get back to playing like he did in 2012. Oher has already said, as Jones noted in his article, this is the best he has felt since joining the NFL. He also is back to being coached by John Matsko, who was the Ravens’ offensive line coach for Oher’s first two seasons, some of his best years as a professional.

Michael Oher is probably the most important free agent addition the Panthers made this offseason. He isn’t necessarily the key to the team’s success, considering the offense was able to perform well enough to make the playoffs in spite of the left tackle position in 2014.

However, if Oher is able to provide stability at the position, play like he did in 2012 against the Bengals, this offense could become very explosive. If Newton has just a little more time in the pocket, it will give players like Ted Ginn Jr. and the other wide receivers a chance to get down the field for a big play.

All .gifs courtesy of NFL Game Rewind

Brandon Croce is the Lead Publisher for PantherInsider.com. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonCroce.

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