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PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 4:40 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2018 4:06 am
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Much has changed since Week 9 Youth Kawann Short Jersey , back when the Panthers had just blown out the Buccaneers to take a 6-2 record into the second half of the season. It seemed this team was virtually a lock for the NFC Playoffs with a shot to overtake New Orleans for the division crown and the coveted first round bye. At that time, I handed out midseason awards with a smile on my face and visions of another playoff run dancing in my mind. Since you’re here I’m assuming you know what followed, and, like you, I’d prefer not to go back down that road. Regardless of the overwhelming disappointment this season provided, there were some bright spots that are well worth celebrating. Here are my end of season awards for 2018. Offensive MVP: RB Christian McCaffreyMidseason Offensive MVP: QB Cam NewtonI think it’s safe to say that Christian McCaffrey surprised even his most stout supporters this year with his phenomenal play. The unique combination of efficiency and durability for someone his size in the NFL is impressive on its own, but to carry the entire workload of an offense week in and week out is the stuff of legends. McCaffrey nearly doubled his touchdown total from his rookie season, hitting the end zone on thirteen occasions (which led the team). The dual threat out of Stanford also broke the NFL season record for receptions by by a running back with 107. This also broke Steve Smith’s franchise season record for receptions. Future hall of famer, Steve Smith. GOAT Carolina Panther, Steve Smith.Many were skeptical when the Panthers decided to take McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 draft. He can’t run between the tackles. He can’t sustain NFL hits. He can’t handle workhorse volume. Run CMC has done all this and more, and we haven’t even seen his prime yet.Defensive MVP: LB Luke KuechlyMidseason Defensive MVP: CB Donte JacksonIt took Luke a minute to get going this season, something we as a spoiled fanbase aren’t accustomed to. The defensive deficiencies that we saw under Eric Washington didn’t help his cause but http://www.panthersfootballauthentic.com/mario-addison-jersey-authentic , ho hum, just another season with 130 tackles for one of the best to ever play the game. Kuechly finished with a franchise record-breaking 20 tackles for loss, a statistic that is generally unprecedented for an inside linebacker. During the losing streak, Luke was a spark plug for an otherwise sputtering defense. Hell, he almost won the Cleveland game on his own forcing two critical fumbles. This guy doesn’t have an off switch. Something that has flown under the radar as a substantial positive in 2018 was Kuechly’s health. This was his first season in quite a while in which he stayed off the injury report, avoiding that dreaded umpteenth concussion that could be career ending. Luke garnered his sixth straight Pro Bowl and fifth First Team AP All-Pro honors in his seventh season. Team records and scoreboards have never had an affect on his motor, which will eventually propel him into Canton. You gotta love watching Luke Kuechly play on our side every Sunday.Most disappointing player: WR Devin FunchessMidseason most disappointing player: DT Dontari PoeThis was supposed to be the year Devin Funchess proved he was deserving and capable of being a number one receiver on an NFL team. In his contract season, there were high expectations for the former Michigan tight end. Unfortunately, Funchess failed to deliver in 2018 and has most likely played his last game in a Panthers uniform. Let’s take a look at Funchess’ split statistics as the season went on:First eight games36 receptions on 55 targets for 445 receiving yards and three touchdownsLast eight gamesEight receptions on 24 targets for 104 receiving yards and one touchdownFunchess was basically non-existent in the second half of 2018. D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel gradually stole his snaps as the season went on, as he continued to let the offense down among mental mistakes and crucial drops. I really think the game in Detroit destroyed Devin’s confidence for the remainder of the season. Numerous drops in his home town that arguably lost the game and catalyzed the downward spiral that would ensue seemed to take a major toll. Maybe his focus shifted with the recent birth of his first child? It’s hard to pinpoint an exact reason, but there is no doubting the significant drop off in his play and demeanor in the final eight weeks.Funchess will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and I would be absolutely shocked to see Carolina bring him back. Not to knock the former second round pick, as I think he has the ability to be a strong number two option for another team. I wish him the best moving forward. Most surprising player: OT Taylor MotonMidseason most surprising player: DT Kyle LoveI know the tweet above is a little out-dated Womens Donte Jackson Jersey , but Taylor Moton had an incredible year for the Panthers on very short notice. Following multiple injuries to starter Daryl Williams, Moton was thrust into one of the most important roles on the offense with little to no in-game experience. The second-year tackle thrived and will allow the Panthers much needed flexibility in structuring their offensive line moving forward. By the end of the season, Moton established himself as a rival to Trai Turner for best offensive hog molly on the roster, and we should be excited to see his progression into year three.Comeback player of the year: WR Curtis SamuelMidseason comeback player of the year: TE Greg Olsen and WR Curtis SamuelComeback player of the year is all about a guy who bounces back and proves he can play after previous injury and/or underwhelming performance. Samuel did just that in his second season. After posting a 7.7 yards per reception clip in 2017, the former Buckeye finished this season at 12.7 yards per reception. This is tremendous improvement for a player with a ton of questions marks coming into training camp this year. Samuel also provided some of the most electrifying plays in Panthers recent history, taking three scores in from over 20 yards this season. Here’s an absolute beauty if you’d like to see what Samuel can do when his quarterback is physically able to drive the ball down the field:My one criticism of Curtis is that he tends to depend too much on his body when catching the football. If he can become a more natural hands-catcher, Samuel will turn into a legit weapon for Cam Newton in this offense. Unsung hero: LB Shaq ThompsonMidseason unsung hero: OT Taylor MotonThe former first round pick didn’t have the flashiest year, but it was the most productive he’s been in Carolina. Shaq posted career highs in tackles (79) and sacks (3.5). Thompson will be playing for the bank in 2019 as free agency looms. The Panthers would be wise to work on an extension sooner than later, as Shaq’s value will only increase with Thomas Davis’ inevitable retirement. Agree? Disagree? I want to hear it in the comments below! The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a quarterback problem. Former first overall pick Jameis Winston lost his starting gig to Ryan Fitzpatrick while serving a three game suspension for off field transgressions. That benching didn’t last long however, as Winston came in for relief duty in his first game back during complete and utter beat down the Buccaneers took at the hands of the Chicago Bears.After the game, he was named the starter going forward. Winston made it less than three full games before head coach Dirk Koetter decided that soon-to-be 36 year old Ryan Fitzpatrick, on his seventh NFL team http://www.panthersfootballauthentic.com/jarius-wright-jersey-authentic , was the better option at quarterback. Winston threw ten interceptions in his four games of work, enough to tie him for most in the league with Sam Darnold and Case Keenum, both of whom have played twice as many games as the embattled Bucs quarterback. His last performance featured four interceptions in less than three quarters of work, opening the door for Fitzpatrick to step in and work his magic. Last week, Fitzpatrick threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns in roughly 17 minutes of game time. The showing was reminiscent of the first three weeks of the season, during which the Harvard grad threw for over 1,230 yards and 12 touchdowns (fun fact: that extrapolates to a 6,560 yard, 64 touchdown season). He is not without faults though, and that brings us to this week’s keys:Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Turnovers are fickle and somewhat random http://www.panthersfootballauthentic.com/da_norris-searcy-jersey-authentic , so asking a team to force them is rather pointless. But they get special mention this week. Even during his magical early season run, Fitzpatrick turned the ball over four times in three games. This is also the same guy that has two five-plus interception games on his resume, one of just four players since 2000 to hold such a distinction. He will undoubtedly give the Panthers opportunities to take the ball away, and the Panthers need to capitalize. Play disciplined on the back end. The Buccaneers have completed ten passes of at least 40 yards, tied for the most in the NFL this season. Fitzpatrick is responsible for eight of those, and half of those are to wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Donte Jackson should be tasked with the speedster while James Bradberry should draw the more physical Mike Evans. Eric Reid and Mike Adams need to be ready to help on both. Get off the field on third and fourth downs. The Buccaneers have converted 47% of their 3rd downs this season, fourth best in the league. They’ve also converted on all six of their 4th down tries. The defense needs to keep the Bucs behind the sticks on early downs to make those 3rd and 4th down stops easier. The Buccaneers offense has been one of the most explosive units in the league this season. They lead the NFL in yards per game and are seventh in scoring. The Bucs defense is terrible, so the Panthers defense doesn’t have to play a perfect game to keep the offense in the game. A few big plays on the defensive end should be enough to earn a win for the Panthers, even if the Bucs pick up yards and points along the way.


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