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Panthers G.M. thought they were 11-win team, before a key injury

Kelvin Benjamin AP

The Panthers have been exceeding expectations all season.

But the extent to which they exceeded their own underscores how far they’ve come with an odd lot of wide rececivers.

Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman admitted he was optimistic going into the season, up to the point in training camp when second-year wideout Kelvin Benjamin went down with a torn ACL.

“I really felt like we were an 11-5, 12-4 team,” Gettleman said. “And then Kelvin goes down, and let’s be honest, you’d have to be an idiot to think that then.”

Gettleman said the only silver lining was that Benjamin was injured so early in August that it gave the rest of the roster time to grow into new roles. And while not many people had much faith in that group, Gettleman did, such that he had a choice.

He said getting Ted Ginn back after a one-year cash-grab in Arizona was a key, and that while Ginn has obvious faults (he drops about half of what is thrown his way), he fits in there because they’re willing to buy in bulk, accept the drops for the deep balls he hauls in. Veteran Jerricho Cotchery and Philly Brown have played their parts as well, but Gettleman admitted that Benjamin was the one player he was most worried about losing to injury as he built this team.

“That’s why we drafted Devin Funchess when we did,” he said of his second-rounder. “Because all offseason, I kept worrying about what would happen if Kelvin went down. He was primed to have a monster year, he was going to go off. And we didn’t have anybody else who was 6-5, so I felt like we had to add there.”

Not only did they reach his goal, but they’ve exceeded it. And while his group of wide receivers aren’t going to be confused with the best units in the league, they’ve gotten the Panthers this far, making you wonder what it will look like next year when Benjamin returns and they could get better.

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16 Responses to “Panthers G.M. thought they were 11-win team, before a key injury”
  1. 6ball says: Feb 3, 2016 1:02 PM

    Gettleman has done an excellent job. He walked into a situation that was long on cap issues and short on . He hit on some key draft choices and was able to fill gaps with low priced free agents.

  2. PFT-made-me-change-my-handle says: Feb 3, 2016 1:20 PM

    Well, playing in the NFC South and Against the AFC South helps.

  3. eazeback says: Feb 3, 2016 1:31 PM

    if they get Braxton miller from OSU, they have a very dangerous WR corp….the rich get richer! they really don’t have any other glaring needs to fill outside of maybe get a LB

  4. cb28031 says: Feb 3, 2016 1:50 PM

    Or a DB……they might lose Norman

  5. bucks4ever13 says: Feb 3, 2016 1:51 PM

    This year, CB is a concern. Norman is a free agent and after that we have guys coming off injury and cast offs. Benjamin coming back and Funchess developing will do just fine for next year with Corey Brown being the number 3 guy. One more LB can’t hurt because you don’t know when Davis will call it quits. Other than that, everything is about depth assuming the o-line can do as they did this year. I hated what Gettleman was doing. But you can’t argue with results. I was clearly wrong. Keep pounding!

  6. FinFan68 says: Feb 3, 2016 2:21 PM

    Without a diva or superstar WR on the field demanding the ball the team doesn’t force the ball or call a bunch of plays for that one guy. The result is balance assuming the guys that are left are at least somewhat capable. That balance is tough on defenses because they can’t really shift help over to one guy regularly. All their DBs have to play well 1-on-1. That makes things easier on the QB because he can throw to the guy he can see is open instead of hoping his star wins the battle on a 50/50 ball.

  7. junkmtb says: Feb 3, 2016 2:24 PM

    GMAN is a smart dude! And though folks hated him after he traded Smitty, its showing that was another key to the panthers success or the maturation of Cam if you will. Still a fan of Smith though regardless!

  8. patsfan4lifesbchamps says: Feb 3, 2016 2:27 PM

    The Panthers are guaranteed at least 6 wins playing in the NFC Slouch. Then they just have to find 5 more wins which is not hard to get in the NFL. That’s why I doubt they will win this Sunday.

  9. genericcommenter says: Feb 3, 2016 2:36 PM

    Alright, let’s stop making up statistics here.

    Ted Ginn drops a LOT of passes, right? We can all agree on that, I think.

    But every post here that mentions him says “he drops about half of what is thrown his way”

    Yet the statistics say he caught 44 passes and dropped 10 this year. He was targeted 96 times. So, yeah he caught less than 50% of targets, but that accounts for errant throws, good defense, etc. Also, I don’t know (but I’m sure someone has the stats) the length of his average route, how many times the miss was on and underthrown deep ball, etc. Yeah, good modern QBs complete 60-70%. So, it looks bad on the surface if WR catches under 50%, but completion % is inflated by screen passes, short under routes, etc. For a WR actually going out more than 10 yards, you probably can’t expect more than 50% of those balls to get caught.

    Drops count getting your hands on the ball and not hauling it in. That happened on a little over 10% of his targets.

    Ted Ginn objectively has some of the worst hands in the NFL, but he drop nowhere close to 1/2 his passes. If he dropped even 2o% over the course of the season, he would not see on the field at all at WR.

  10. genericcommenter says: Feb 3, 2016 2:45 PM

    I just read an ESPN article from yesterday that cited Ginn’s drop rate as 7.4%, one of the worst in the league but even better than the 10% stat I saw earlier.

  11. doctorpancake says: Feb 3, 2016 2:48 PM

    No way in hell Norman isn’t a Panther next season. Worst case they’ll tag him.

  12. holla2626 says: Feb 3, 2016 3:37 PM

    “The Panthers are guaranteed at least 6 wins playing in the NFC Slouch. Then they just have to find 5 more wins which is not hard to get in the NFL. That’s why I doubt they will win this Sunday.”

    Seriously…. A Pats fan talking about easy divisions?

  13. jgedgar70 says: Feb 3, 2016 3:42 PM

    Cotchery is a free agent, and with KB coming back, I imagine we’ll let him go. But that gives us KB, Funchess, Ginn and Philly Brown. That’s a group I’m happy with.

    We need to start looking for our next Jordan Gross; I can’t see Oher lasting more than 2-3 more years. We do need more secondary depth, although Tre Boston will do fine if Harper retires, and Bene Benwikere will be back, and I’m fine with keeping McClain and Finnegan as backups. And yes, TD will retire sooner or later, but Shaq Thompson is being groomed to replace him. Another LB for depth would be nice.

    I expect we’ll try to fill all those needs in the draft. The only big free agent I think we’ll go after is Norman. I hope we pay whatever he wants. We need to keep the biggest house on Thieves Ave.!

  14. fanofpft says: Feb 3, 2016 5:37 PM

    20 teams being below 500 late in the season helped also.

  15. doctorpancake says: Feb 3, 2016 6:49 PM

    “20 teams being below 500 late in the season helped also.”

    I guess the Panthers, Cardinals, Broncos and Patriots are all terrible teams that just lucked out by playing 20 even worse teams?

  16. fanofpft says: Feb 4, 2016 6:06 PM

    Were the Cardinals, Broncos and Patriots below 500 last season?

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