The Carolina Panthers are going to need a few things to fall into place if they are to win the Super Bowl in 2010. While they have plenty of talent on the roster, and some real things going for them in the running game, they still need a number of other players to step up and be counted. Here are some things that must happen for the Panthers to hoist the Super Bowl trophy come Playoff time.
At Least One Rookie Receiver Will Need to Bloom Early
The Panthers drafted Armanti Edwards and Brandon LaFell as wide receivers, and they are going to be tested early. The fact that Steve Smith broke his arm playing flag football only underscores this situation. One of these two guys are going to have to contribute in a big way for the Panthers to win the Super Bowl. Both would be better.
Steve Smith Will Need to Recover and Be at His Best
It goes without saying that Smith is the key for the Panthers in the passing game. If he is either unable to play or limited in his production, then the Panthers become very predictable. With Smith lined up, the entire offense becomes much better. Without him, the Panthers are likely in big trouble.
Dante Rosario Will Need to Continue to Grow
Gary Barnidge is a good tight end as well, but Rosario is the key to the Panthers tight end position in the passing game. He must continue to show that connection with Matt Moore if the Panthers are to truly prosper in a tough NFC. No team can go very far without a dependable underneath game, and Rosario can give that to the Panthers and Moore.
Matt Moore Must be as Good as He Seems
Jimmy Clausen may very well be the future of the Panthers but Moore is their present. Moore is capable of being as good as anyone really, but he must continue to make the great decisions he made during his stint last season. If he starts trying to rack up big numbers rather than trying to win football games, it could be a disaster.
The Defensive Line Must Gel Quickly
The defensive line is going to be the classic NFL example of a patchwork band of players that depend upon one another to make the plays. They are not outstanding individually, but they can be as a group if they play their spots. Teamwork will be the key to this defensive line in Carolina. Otherwise, the linebackers will be spending all their time filling holes rather than chasing the football sideline to sideline.
John Fox Must Toughen Up in the Locker Room
Fox has always seemed to carry a soft stick. He is more like the quiet father that can set you straight with just a stern look or word. This season he might need to swing a larger stick to keep the youth on the team in line and producing. The team concept is the only concept that can make the Panthers great, and he is the example to each of them. Fox will have to be at his very best for this season to be Super Bowl worthy in any way.
The Panthers are not the traditional pick to make the Super Bowl in 2010, but they have such a good running game and offensive line that ruling them out would be foolhardy. The Panthers surely could win the Super Bowl if they can get into the Playoffs. Once there, they would be a dangerous team for anybody to face with that powerful running game and potentially dangerous passing game.