2021 Record: 5-12 4th NFC South
2022 Win Total: 6.5 Wins
Over 6.5 -115
Under 6.5 -115
Yards Per play: 32nd 4.6
Yards per pass attempt: 31st 6.0
Offensive QB Sack percentage: 26th 7.99%
Yards per run: 23rd 4.0
3rd down conversion rate: 29th 35.74%
Turnover Margin: 29th -0.8
Yards Per Play allowed: 3rd 5.1
Yards per pass attempt allowed: 8th 6.3
Yards allowed per rush: 8th 4.1
Defensive QB sack rate: 10th 7.04%
Notable losses: Haason Reddick LB, Cam Newton QB, Joe Brady OC
Notable additions: Baker Mayfield QB, Bradley Bozeman C, Austin Corbett G, Matt Ioannidis DT , Ben McAdoo
1st Round Draft Pick(s): Ikem Ekwonu OT NC State
Strength of schedule: 14th (1 Easiest, 32 Hardest)
The Panthers had one of the worst offensive seasons in the entire league in 2021. Carolina was dead last in yards per play, 31st in yards per pass attempt, 29th in turnover margin, 26th in offensive QB sack percentage, and 23rd in yards per run. It’s nearly inconceivable that they started 3-0 last season with Darnold averaging nearly 300 yards per game. What followed is what you would expect given those season long stats given early. The Panthers lost 10 of their next 12 games and finished the season with a 7 game losing streak. The Panthers did have to handle the loss of Christian McCaffrey who is easily their best player, but the situation at quarterback was far worse. The Panthers ended up starting 3 different QBs throughout the season and got desperate enough to sign Cam Newton. Just looking at the Panthers schedule makes your head scratch as to how this team even got 5 wins. Carolina had games in which Ameer Abdullah and Shi Smith were their leading receivers. Not a great sign for the offense and that pretty much sums up their season.
From a talent standpoint, the Panthers should get better in 2022. Of course the Panthers get back CMC, but they also get another offseason to train Terrace Marshall Jr who could be a gadget 3rd receiver alongside DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson. They added some veterans in Austin Corbett and Bradley Bozeman to improve their offensive line which was abysmal last season. The biggest elephant in the room is who ends up starting at QB. With Baker Mayfield now on the team, I think he likely wins the job given how horrible things got for Sam Darnold last season. What concerns me the most outside of the QB position is who the Panthers hired for their open offensive coordinator position. I’m skeptical of Ben Macadoo, who is famous for calling two QB sneaks back to back. I could see a scenario in which the QB situation kills the team early on, and McAdoo is unable to prepare them properly. This will be the most talent that Baker has played with in his entire career and that should at least give him every chance to succeed.
If there’s one thing that head coach Matt Rhule is capable of, it’s defense. Rhule brought over defensive coordinator Phil Snow from Baylor 3 years ago and the unit has been excellent as a result. The only concerning loss over the season was Haason Reddick who led the team in sacks last season. I’m still confident that Snow will be able to have this side of the ball dialed in come the start of the season and if the offense can turn the ball over less, the defense may even improve in 2022.
The Panthers will have every opportunity to exceed their win total in 2022. They have winnable games against the Giants, Browns, Falcons (x2), Lions, Steelers, and Seahawks. Even if they just win those games they will hit the over. While I hate the hire of McAdoo, I still think this offense should be notably better this season and that should lead to a few more wins. It feels gross given the QB situation, but I would bet over 6.5 wins at -115.