The Carolina Panthers are a team without an obvious weakness or strength. They’re simply a good football team.
Thomas Davis thinks they’re even better than the last iteration of the Panthers to reach the Super Bowl.
"He’s been on a more talented team than this one?" Davis asked, via ESPN. "I’ve been around a lot of Cam teams, other than at Auburn, and they weren’t that talented down there either. But this might be his most talented team. I don’t know what he’s talking about.
"From my observations, being a part of the 2015 team, athletically, speed-wise, from that standpoint in particularly on the offensive side, this is definitely the most talented set of guys I’ve been around."
As we said above, the 2015 team went 15-1, finished first in the league in scoring and sixth in points allowed, rolled the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game and reached Super Bowl 50 before falling to a Denver Broncos team that included a legendary defense. That’s a pretty high bar to reach and/or exceed.
For the sake of why we exist as a website (at least partially), allow us to compare the teams on paper.
Quarterback: 2015 Cam Newton vs. 2018 Cam Newton (plus Norv Turner)
Winner: 2018 Norvton
Running back: Jonathan Stewart vs. Christian McCaffrey
Winner: The traditionalist in me leans toward Stewart — especially with how he paired with Newton in a devastating read option attack — though McCaffrey is more versatile.
Receiving corps: Ted Ginn, a young Devin Funchess, Philly Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, and NFL.com digital content manager David Ely’s favorite, Brenton Bersin vs. a wiser Funchess, Torrey Smith, DJ Moore, Jairus Wright, Curtis Samuel and Damiere Byrd. Greg Olsen is part of both, though Ed Dickson is not.
Winner: This one isn’t close. 2018 wins easily.
Offensive line: On paper, I’d take the 2015 Panthers offensive line, but this current group deserves a ton of credit for weathering injuries and playing well above expectation.
Defensive line: The 2015 group of Jared Allen, Kawann Short, Kyle Love, Star Lotulelei, Kony Ealy and a young Mario Addison looks pretty damn imposing. But so does Addison, Short, Dontari Poe, Wes Horton, Efe Obada and the ageless Julius Peppers.
Winner: 2018, in a close call, thanks to the surprise play of Obada and reliability of Peppers.
Linebackers: It’s the same corps, just a little older. If we give one an edge, it’s 2015, just because Davis was younger (and played the Super Bowl with a broken arm!).
Secondary: The 2015 group of Peanut Tillman, Roman Harper, Kurt Coleman, Josh Norman, Tre Boston and Bene Benwikere beats out this current group, even with the addition of Eric Reid and excellent play of rookie Donte Jackson.
In all, this Panthers team, currently sitting a 6-2, has more talent on offense. Newton is playing his best football and is working in nearly perfect concert with Turner. And as we said above, this team just does things better, more consistently. Newton wasn’t spitballing when he talked about his team meshing.
Might they have a similar fate? The Saints and Rams are among the teams that would like to have a word with them about that. Let the season continue.
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