2012 Season Review: Carolina Panthers - No Playoffs, But A Bright Future For Young Panthers

Discussion in 'Game Summaries & Team News' started by LtJustice, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. LtJustice

    LtJustice QSF Commissioner

    Jul 22, 2010
    The Carolina Panthers saw a regime change coming into the 2012 Season. Out after one season was head coach Ron Rivera and also longtime GM Marty Hurney. Brought in to replace them was new GM LtJustice and his hand picked head coach Jim Luby. The new GM was very active in the trade market and brought in some key pieces that helped Coach Luby turn the team around and post a winning record of 9-7 in their first season in Carolina. With some budding young stars, this team appears to be on the right track to compete in the tough NFC South for years to come.

    Season Breakdown:

    The season didn't start out great for the Panthers as they dropped their opener on the road to the rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a shootout 52-42. The Panthers hoped to rebound at home in week 2 against another NFC South rival, the New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they never got that opportunity, as the week was mysteriously lost and the Panthers dropped to 0-2 on the young season.

    The Panthers would finally get in the W column in week 3, as they defeated the defending champion New York Giants at home 31-10. Carolina would even their record at 2-2 as they would travel to Atlanta in week 4 and defeat the rival Falcons 34-21. The Panthers would drop a close one at home to the surprising Seattle Seahawks to fall to 2-3 heading into their week 6 bye.

    Following another home loss in week 7, to the Cowboys, the Panthers would rack up consecutive road wins in weeks 8 & 9, against the Bears and Redskins respectively, to once again get their record to .500 at 4-4. The Panthers would lose 2 of their next 3 games; losing at home to the Broncos 31-21, beating the Buccaneers at home 52-21, and losing to the Eagles on the road 31-17.

    Now sitting at 5-6 and with a road matchup against the 8-3 Chiefs looming, time was running out on the Panthers season. The Panthers knew that it was now or never to turn things around and coach Luby turned to his friendly rival in Indianapolis for some assistance. Knowing that Coach Music runs a solid program in Indy, Coach Luby set up a scrimmage for his players against the 9-2 Colts. After a solid scrimmage and some friendly advice from the Colts coach, the Panthers were definitely focused for their week 13 game in Kansas City.

    The Panthers delivered a great performance all around as they shut out the Chiefs 23-0 to get back to .500 once again at 6-6 on the season. The Panthers would then go on a 4 game winning streak, with impressive victories against the Falcons, Chargers, and Raiders, to move to 9-6 on the season with a week 17 matchup against the Saints still ahead.

    The Saints had been on a tear of their own, riding a 7 game winning streak and having secured the NFC South Championship the week before. Prior to the game, it appeared as though the Panthers would have the 2nd NFC Wild Card spot sewn up on the tiebreaker over the San Francisco 49ers, and these two teams may be headed for a wild card round rematch. The Saints would start career backup Brian Hoyer at QB and he would play a mistake free game en-route to a 24-17 Saints victory. The Panthers defense appeared to play a little conservative in the loss, in anticipation of a playoff rematch, but the decision proved costly as the 49ers were in fact awarded the Wild Card spot and the 9-7 Panthers were left on the outside looking in.


    The Panthers offense finished the season ranked 11th overall in total yards (5,005 yds), 16th in passing (3,196 yds), 5th in rushing (1,809 yds), and the team finished 2nd in scoring at 29.9 PPG.


    The offense was lead by 2011 #1 overall pick and NFL rookie of the year, quarterback Cam Newton. Newton had an up and down sophomore campaign where he was equal parts ineffective and amazing. Playing every offensive down, Cam posted an 80.6 passer rating, throwing for 3,353 yards and 26 touchdowns, but also threw 34 interceptions, including 4 games with 3 or more picks. But part of what makes Newton special, is his unique athleticism. Cam led all quarterbacks with 338 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns. Cam only fumbled once all season and had 4 runs of more than 20 yards. Cam finished 6th in League MVP voting, 3rd in NFC Offensive Player of the Year voting, 6th in NFC Best QB voting, and was the NFC Offensive Player of the Week in week 1. Newton has improved to be a 90+ overall player and at just 23 years old, should be leading the charge for the Panthers for many years to come.


    At running back, the Panthers came into the season with the duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. LtJustice decided to unload Stewart and his sizable contract, sending him to the Miami Dolphins, and added a 1st round pick in the 2013 draft (from the Raiders via the Dolphins) that will be a top 15 pick. Also received in the deal with the Dolphins was bruising young halfback Daniel Thomas.

    Williams had a solid year as the #1 halfback, rushing for over 850 yards and 7 touchdowns. Williams had just 1 fumble on the year, had 14 broken tackles, and 7 runs over 20 yards.

    The best move made at halfback was the aquisition of young speedster Taiwan Jones from the Oakland Raiders. Jones proved to be a valuable weapon in the Panther's option heavy offense, both on the ground and in the air, as well as in the return game. Jones had over a thousand yards form scrimmage and his 3,395 all purpose yards shattered the NFL record (not recognized by the game) set last year by Darren Sproles (2,696). Jones ran for just over 500 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and 7 touchdowns. He was tied for 6th in the league with 18 broken tackles and had 6 runs over 20 yards. Jones also caught 24 passes for 664 yards and 6 touchdowns. Where Jones really shocked the league, was his return game. He returned 61 kicks for 1,963 yards and an amazing 5 touchdowns (another NFL record not recognized by the game). He also added 24 punt returns for 254 yards. Despite not being a starter, Jones finished 9th in the voting for the Best NFC RB.

    Following the lead blocking of fullback Mike Tolbert, Carolina running backs combined for just shy of 1,500 yards on the season.


    Receiver was another position that the GM worked the trade line to improve. The Panthers acquired 2nd year receivers A.J. Green from the Bengals, a Pro Bowler in his rookie season, and Greg Little from the Browns. Along with veteran standout Steve Smith, the Panthers believe they have a trio of receivers as good as any in the league.

    Tight end Greg Olsen proved to be worth the future 3rd rounder that the previous regime gave up to get him, as he finished the season with 38 catches for almost 800 yards and 4 touchdowns.


    The Panthers offensive line played like one of the best units in the league. The left 3/5s of the line (LT, LG, C) did not allow a sack all season, as Newton was sacked a mere 22 times all year.

    The line is anchored by veteran left tackle Jordan Gross, who finished 4th in the league with 13 pancake blocks and didn't allow a sack. Gross was voted in as a Pro Bowl starter at Left Tackle and finished 3rd in the voting for Best NFC Offensive Lineman.

    The other standout lineman was Center Ryan Kalil. Kalil finished 8th in the NFL with 10 pancake blocks and also allowed no sacks. Also voted into the Pro Bowl, Kalil will be the starter at Center for the NFC team and finished 8th in the voting for Best NFC Offensive Lineman.


    The Carolina Panthers defense was the strength of the team in 2012. The Panthers finished the season with the leagues best passing defense, with only 2,641 passing yards allowed. They also finished the season ranked 4th in total yards allowed (4,160 yds), and 20th in rushing yards allowed (1,519 yds). Their 376 points allowed ranked 13th in the league, they ranked 2nd in sacks (48 sacks), and were tied for 6th in Interceptions (37 INTs).


    Early on in training camp, it was clear that something had clicked for 3rd year defensive end Eric Norwood. With Norwood coming on strong, incumbent starter Greg Hardy had become expendable and was included in the trade that brought halfback Taiwan Jones from the Raiders. Norwood finished the season with 30 tackles, including 19 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks (tied for 6th in the NFL), 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 block, and 1 touchdown. Norwood finished 6th in the voting for the Best NFC Defensive Lineman. Norwood also earned the starting nod for the NFC Pro Bowl team at Left Defensive End.

    Not to be outdone, defensive end Charles Johnson also put together a Pro Bowl season from the right side of the line. Johnson finished the season with 43 tackles, 24 tackles for a loss (4th in the NFL), 17 sacks (3rd in the NFL), and 4 fumbles forced. Johnson was voted Best Defensive Lineman in the NFC and finished 10th in the NFC Defensive Player of the Year voting. Johnson will join Norwood in the Pro Bowl starting line-up, starting at right Defensive End in the NFL All Star game.


    The Panthers came into the season with one of the deepest linebacking groups in the league, but that depth was thinned out a little as veterans Thomas Davis and James Anderson were dealt early on, in the deals that brought receivers Little and Green to Carolina.

    The linebacker corps is lead by team captain Jon Beason at middle linebacker. Beason led the team with 73 tackles, including 10 tackles for a loss. Beason also had 3 sacks, 3 interceptions, 8 pass deflections, and 3 forced fumbles. Beason was a key to the teams success in passing defense, as he regularly locked onto opposing tight ends.

    Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly, the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft, started from day one of training camp and made the trading of the oft-injured Davis a possibility. Kuechly, who finished 2nd on the team with 61 tackles, had a strong rookie campaign. He has 16 tackles for a loss, 7 sacks, 1 interception, 1 fumble forced, 3 fumbles recovered, and 1 touchdown. Kuechly finished 3rd in the voting for NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year.

    When veteran starter James Anderson was traded near the trade deadline, many outside the organization were unsure if Panthers linebacker Jason Williams was capable of stepping into the starting role effectively. Williams showed that the organizations faith in him was warranted, as he turned out a strong season in the 2nd half of the year. He finished with 35 tackles, 8 for a loss, 4 sacks, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble forced, and 3 touchdowns. Williams also earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his week 14 performance in the Panther victory over the Falcons. Williams had 2 pick 6s and a sack in the victory.


    Even with some other great individual performances from the Panthers defense, the most impressive season may very well belong to veteran cornerback Chris Gamble. With 14 interceptions on the season, Gamble was one of 2 cornerbacks in the league that tied the 60 year old record set by Dick "Night Train" Lane in his 1952 rookie campaign. Gamble also finished the season with 28 tackles, 4 for a loss, 14 passes deflected, and 4 touchdowns. Gamble finished 4th in NFC Defensive Player of the Year voting, 4th in NFC Best Defensive Back voting, and earned a starting nod at cornerback for the NFC Pro Bowl team. He was also named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week in back to back week, for weeks 10 & 11.

    Rookie cornerback Josh Norman had a solid freshman campaign with 23 tackles, 5 interceptions, 5 pass deflections, 1 fumble recovered, and 2 touchdowns scored. Norman finished 7th in the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.

    Strong safety Charles Godfrey also deserves mention for a solid season, with 53 tackles, 3 for a loss, 1 sack and 5 interceptions.


    2013 Pro Bowl Nominations

    LT - Jordan Gross (S)
    C - Ryan Kalil (S)
    LE - Eric Norwood (S)
    RE - Charles Johnson (S)
    CB - Chris Gamble (S)

    2012 NFC NFC Best Defensive Lineman

    RE - Charles Johnson
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  2. thoov08

    thoov08 Walk On

    Oct 24, 2010
    Great read man. Looking at doing something like this or a big preview for next season after playoffs.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Warhawk AKA dreadman

    Warhawk AKA dreadman Walk On

    Jul 27, 2010
    very nice Jim!!!!!!!!!
    • Like Like x 1
  4. pittrocks43

    pittrocks43 TMFL Steelers

    Mar 28, 2010
    Great read Jim.
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