Arguably the most loved player for the Carolina Panthers is quarterback Cam Newton. I say arguably simply because there is the grizzled veteran wide receiver Steve Smith or running back(s) DeAngelo Williams and/or Jonathan Stewart.
Heck, I would even say that the brazen predictions of center Ryan Kalil at least earn him honorable mention status amongst the Panther faithful. I mean how can you not like an outspoken center that predicts they will win the Super Bowl? Any one of these players could easily be the patriarch of this team and the Panther faithful would eagerly follow.
Sadly for the Panther fans, the tool shed is short a few pieces to fully propagate a bountiful garden along with a few more seeds that are needed in order for them to reach the "promised land". However, the foundation is there, the soil is rich and the coaching staff is just beginning to understand what they have at the helm of this team.
Once offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski develops a system that will allow QB Cam Newton to fully utilize his unbelievable skills, the Panthers will be producing "bountiful harvests" for the next decade. Maturation doesn't only happen to rookie players, it also involves coaches and especially those coaches who landed their job because they were friends with the recently hired head coach.
Look.....I'm not bashing "Chudz" but the man never truly played in the NFL and his track record of previous coaching experience does not "blow one away". That being said; head coach Ron Rivera is a smart man with a track record of success as a player and assistant coaching; thus, Panther fans should feel good about his abilities to build a fiercely competitive team and staff.
Once they figure out how to maximize the "Caminators" skills and implement that into a system playbook, this team will be dangerous. Until then, send wide receiver Steve Smith deep and chunk the rock as hard as you can in his direction. If he is double-teamed, then hand off to any one of the running backs or tuck and run yourself Sir Cam Newton.
That style of play will get you to an 8-8 season and possibly with some breaks and some quality defensive coaching by defensive coordinator Sean McDermott; he will help lead the team to a very respectable 9-7. For now, let's keep our feet solid on the soil and expect a 6-10 or 7-9 season until the maturation process ages a bit more.
Therefore, it is easy to find the player(s) to love on this team but not so easy to find the "fall guy". If I could name a coach as the "most hated player" it would be "Chudz" but since we must stick with a player on the field...............I'm going with.......... defensive tackle Ron Edwards. He is old, slow and earns 1.5 million dollars, which is 1 million dollars too much. He is there because they don't have anyone better and he does at least clog the middle fairly well until the 4th quarter, when his tired, old bones wear out and he gets moved aside like the peas and carrots that mother put on your plate.
One more draft and hopefully another Julius Peppers is found along with a solid No. 2 receiver and a really good pass catching tight end, then this team can start filling for depth and realistically look at 10-6 as doable. With Cam's arm and legs along with a wild card spot in the playoff, almost anything can happen.
Don't take my word for it, go ask Eli.........