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The Opportunity Analysis

The Opportunity Analysis – Carolina Panthers

The Opportunity Analysis | Carolina Panthers

If you haven’t read the article on the opportunity analysis, click here and do so before reading the team breakdowns.

Carolina Panthers

    • Available Targets: 155
    • Potential Drop-Backs: -136
    • Total New Opportunities: 19
    • Opportunities Analysis Rank: 31

 

The Panthers come in with the second fewest opportunities in the analysis with only 19 heading into 2020. This isn’t for a lack of available targets as the Panthers have a lot of them, 155 to be exact. That stems from key players like Greg Olsen (82) and Jarius Wright (58) leaving this offseason.

The main issue for the Panthers is the huge drop-off in potential pass volume heading into 2020.

Last season, the Panthers were second in the NFL in drop-backs and attempts as they finished 2019 with 714 and 633, respectively. A new coaching staff enters this season led by Matt Rhule and the wonder kid Joe Brady. Brady oversaw a prolific passing attack led by Joe Burrow in 2019.

However, before Brady dazzled the NCAA last season with LSU he spent two years under Sean Payton in New Orleans. Payton is well known for his genius as a play-caller, but in the two seasons (2017-18) that Brady coached under Payton the Saints only dropped back 548 and 562 times, resulting in 519 and 536 attempts.

Brady has confirmed he will be using a similar style offense to what the Saints run which explains why the Panthers were aggressive in acquiring Teddy Bridgewater this offseason. Bridgewater spent 2018 with Brady in New Orleans so his knowledge of the offense should help that transition.

Another key factor for the dip in drop-backs is Bridgewater, who has never been a volume passer. Over the course of his career he is yet to pass over 450 attempts in a season; last year his 16-pace in his 5 starts was 528 attempts on 588 drop-backs. This is right in line with the analysis as we are calling for 578 drop-backs in 2020.

The silver lining is Bridgewater will be much more of an efficient passer than Kyle Allen, so we can hope that his efficiency will help compensate for some of the loss in volume. However, even with a spike of 7-8% in completion percentage this offense will still be well below their receptions from last season before factoring in new arrivals like Robby Anderson.

The final step is to evaluate the incoming free agents and draft picks to see how many targets they will be taking on. First is free agent wide receiver Robby Anderson who over the past three seasons in New York averaged over 100 targets a season.

Anderson alone is going to soak up way more than the 19 available opportunities, so he will have a major impact on D.J. Moore, Christian McCaffrey, and Curtis Samuel.

The second player is not a free agent or a draft pick, it’s Ian Thomas. Thomas last season only saw 30 targets and with Olsen vacating 82 tight end targets it is logical to think Thomas should at least double his production from 2019.

 

Primary Impacted Player – D.J. Moore

 

D.J. Moore is coming off a stellar sophomore campaign as his 87/1,175/4 resulted in a WR16 finish. Moore’s numbers look even stronger if we remove the game he left early. In the 14 full games Moore played he saw 133 targets and averaged 13.4 points per game in those contests. These numbers would have put him in top 10.

This production did come on 9.5 targets per game, which under the new drop-back projection would mean Moore would have to see a 5% bump in target percentage just to get back to those levels. For reference Michael Thomas saw only a 3% target share increase from 2018