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Ron Rivera knows “interesting offseason” makes for tough season

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Franchise-tagged defensive end Greg Hardy’s arrest on domestic violence charges are the most salacious of the headlines in Charlotte.

But they’re far for the only issue the Panthers are dealing with this offseason.

From the retirement of decade-long left tackle Jordan Gross, the cutting the best player in franchise history Steve Smith, the Panthers are going to have a significantly different look, specifically on offense. And that doesn’t even count the offseason ankle surgery which will keep quarterback Cam Newton on the sidelines until training camp.

But there were plenty of other departures big and small (and that’s not just a short-joke at the expense of Captain Munnerlyn), so coach Ron Rivera knows repeating will be difficult.

“We had to make some very tough decisions going into free agency, very tough decisions going into the draft, and we’re going to have to cope with them,” Rivera said Friday, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review.

“It’s been an interesting offseason. When we first got into the season, a very wise sage [team director of dommunications] Charlie Dayton told me ‘It’s going to bring a whole new set of problems.’ So we just handle them and deal with them as they come forward.”

Rivera handled the Hardy questions in a predictable way, saying each time he was asked: “I can’t comment on that because it’s pending.”

Rivera would only say “Greg’s a heck of a young man,” but the specter of their franchise player’s arrest hangs over guys who haven’t met him.

“When we first got here, they told us ‘it’s a different level now, so anything you do, everybody’s watching.’ So you definitely have to take heed to it and just act appropriately,” rookie defensive end Kony Ealy said.

And the Panthers will have to adjust accordingly, to a number of issues.

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8 Responses to “Ron Rivera knows “interesting offseason” makes for tough season”
  1. klgeorge13 says: May 16, 2014 1:32 PM

    One. Greg Hardy situation will resolve itself, and will result in no NFL or criminal discipline.

    Two. Replacing the WRs that were on the team last year is not as big a challenge as the media makes it out to be. Without posting the raw numbers of the incoming free agents, and a reasonable projection for Kelvin Benjamin, they are comparable.

    Three. Gettleman, and Rivera are not done with the one glaring weakness still pending after the draft, OT. I feel more competition will be brought in after cuts are made.

    Four. The number 2 defense in the league will return mostly intact, and Ealy will be a huge plus in rotation.

    The Panthers may not win the south title again, (no one has since it’s creation), but should easily contend for a wild card barring major injuries.

  2. alcore1 says: May 16, 2014 1:54 PM

    Go Panthers!!

  3. malek773 says: May 16, 2014 1:55 PM

    As a Bears fan, the Panthers remind me of the Bears teams from the mid 2000s. They have a great defense. A defense where their offense only needs to put up about 24-28 points a week to consistently win. But there coach and GM continue to ignore their offense.

    The one thing the Panthers have going for them that those Bears teams didn’t, is a franchise QB. Cam is a top QB in this league. He needs help on offense. The Panthers skill positions are pathetic. When your in a division with the Saints and Falcons your eventually going to have put up points on offense. Cam isn’t going to be able to do it all. They need to get him a true number 1 receiver. Without that they’ll never win it all. I’m not saying this to be a hater I’m saying it because its the truth.

  4. ncarolinarn7 says: May 16, 2014 2:16 PM

    Defensive theoretically should keep it close most every game. No one gave Carolina a chance to win the South last year. They had one on the hardest schedules in all the NFL. Don’t count them out. Barring injuries that D is going to be stout.

  5. thevikingslol says: May 16, 2014 2:18 PM

    1 tough season is nothing compared to the 53 fruitless seasons the Vikings have gone through. Can you believe that? 53 years and they have never won a super bowl.

    #Ringless

  6. qdog112 says: May 16, 2014 3:27 PM

    Rivera has been sent out by Gettleman to prepare clueless fans for a backslide, of Gettleman’s making. Fooling yourself into thinking that replacing the entire WR corps (including the best player in franchise history, 1/2 the secondary, 3/5 of the offensive line and having a crippled QB, is NOT devastating, is NUTS.

    This team is basically in total makeup mode. The NFL is not plug and play, especially when we’re talking about a 12-4 team. Saying replacing the losses, means they will go at least 12-4 and win the division this year.

    If you believe this team is as good as last year’s team, I’ve got deed to BOA stadium ready to sell on Craig’s list. Call me.

  7. pwebster919 says: May 16, 2014 3:52 PM

    They might not win 12 games next year, but 10 certainly isn’t out of the question.

  8. tarcats1 says: May 17, 2014 12:52 AM

    I feel better about this years receivers than yhe group from last year. Smith and LaFell both had several drops last season! Everyone seems to forget about Olsen and also Dixon who was brought in to catch passes and Benjamin should have a huge rookie year with his size and hands. A tall receiver is a gift for someone who is notorious for letting too many passes “sail” just above his receivers reach . Additionally, If Stewart can get healthy that backfield will be a monster to deal with.

    I really feel like Smiths release is going to prove to be invaluable. This offense is finally going to be run by Newton and I believe he will rise to the challenge and lead this team, in a tough division, to at least a wild-card. At the very least they should be playing meaningful games in December.

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