How a Canceled NFL Season Would Hurt the Panthers

Jason Hewitt

As the cases for COVID-19 continue to grow, there may be a greater concern for an NFL season cancellation. Many college football conferences have already canceled their seasons due to the rapid spread of the virus. It may be time to consider what would happen if the NFL had to cancel the season. This would be bad news for both teams and fans alike. With that being said, what would happen in the Panthers' case?

Inexperience would hurt the coaching staff in the long run.

The 2020 season would be a huge year of development for this inexperienced Panthers team. This is Matt Rhule's first season as an NFL head coach; many members of his staff came from the college level as well. Most of them have (some) NFL-level experience, but they don't have the same type of leverage as a coordinator like Eric Bieniemy would. Assuming that a season does not happen, it would be incredibly difficult for the new coaches to understand how to adjust playbooks and roster adjustments moving forward without anything to analyze from a canceled season. There won't be any film for them to evaluate, so they would have to make their moves based off of assumptions. 

The players would also be placed at a huge disadvantage.

There are not many seasoned veterans on the roster in comparison to the other teams in the division. Because of this, the players would also lack chemistry whenever it is time for them to hit the field again. They have also been unable to practice together because of social distancing protocols. Since they have to learn brand new schemes under Matt Rhule, practice reps are essential. Many teams are returning with the same coaches that they had last year, which means that their playbooks are already learned and established on the field. The Panthers simply do not have this luxury yet, which means that there is also a learning curve for them to deal with. 

What would the front office be able to do under these circumstances?

Because the coaches' playbooks wouldn't be established and the players wouldn't be able to gain chemistry from playing a season together, it would be especially hard for the front office to determine what the Panthers need moving forward.

As of right now, it seems like the linebacker and secondary position groups are liabilities. However, there are many unknown factors to consider from this upcoming season. What if certain players were going to break out in 2020? Maybe this is Shaq Thompson's year to replace Luke Kuechly as the centerpiece of this defense. Derrick Brown or Jeremy Chinn could potentially break out as some of the best players on the team as rookies. 

There are many possibilities that could come out of this season, but they will all be extinguished if there won't be a season in the first place. The front office may not know what direction to take based on information that was already known at the end of last season. If there isn't a season in 2020, how will the Panthers approach the draft and free agency? This could affect the Panthers franchise for years to come. We will see how the league responds to the pandemic moving forward.

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