As a proud fan of the Carolina Panthers, Kevin Burge could not be more excited about the upcoming Carolina Panthers season. A lot of the optimism for Kevin Burge stems from second-year head coach Matt Rhule. Rhule successfully turned both Temple and Baylor programs around during his tenure as a head coach. After a promising start to last season, Rhule showed glimpses of being able to translate that success to the pro level.
An offensive guru, Rhule will have a quarterback he wanted this season. Sam Darnold, formerly of the New York Jets, will get his chance to play with the best crop of skill position players he has ever been surrounded with. Burge thinks that Darnold’s struggles in New York were caused more by a porous offensive line than a lack of talent. Darnold has one of the strongest arms in the league and will be able to get the ball to some dynamic weapons. Robby Anderson, DJ Moore and Christian McCaffery are all some of the most talented offensive weapons at their respective positions. If Darnold plays well, the Panthers could be in the mix for the NFC South crown come December.
The state of the division is in a slight transition. The perennial powerhouse Saints are now looking forward to life without Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. Entering camp, the Saints will have a quarterback competition and either choice should be a step back from Brees. The Falcons took an incredible tight end in the draft in Kyle Pitts, but signal caller Matt Ryan is yet another year older and towards the end of his career. The defending Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, show no true signs of slowing down. However, Tom Brady had to be human. One of these years his play should have to deteriorate. Kevin Burge is hopeful that the Bucs can suffer from a classic Super Bowl hangover – as unlikely as that may be!
Overall, the Panthers have the feel of a young team on the rise. This year will show whether or not Sam Darnold is the long-term answer at quarterback. If he isn’t, the team will be in a good position to acquire the quarterback of the future in next year’s draft. Kevin Burge hopes this isn’t the case as there’s nothing quite as electric as a Panthers playoff push come December. The squad will look to start the season on the right foot when they take on the New York Jets on Sunday September 12th in a revenge game for Darnold.