Panthers year in review-- the ups and many downs

Saturday, January 28, 2017
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton wears a hat in honor of Craig Sager during the post game press conference after a NFL football game against the Washington Redskins.

After an unsuccessful trip to the Super Bowl in 2016, this past season for the Carolina Panthers has been filled with more downs than ups.

Here's some of the highs and lows of this past season from the ABC11 sports team.

Joe Mazur-- Not really a "lost" season

Calling it a "lost season" is a tad harsh. Remember, we're all supposed to enjoy the journey and not necessarily the outcome. Right?!? RIGHT!?! That's what the coaches all preach anyway. Much easier to swallow when things turn into disappointment. So here are a couple of the highlights from a 6-10 season in which the defending NFC Champions failed to reach the playoffs, let alone get back to the Super Bowl.

Carolina Panthers' Greg Olsen (88) controls the catch and turns away from Atlanta Falcons' Deion Jones (45) in the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C.
AP photo/Bob Leverone

Veteran Tight End Greg Olsen had another stellar campaign. Duh. He led the team in yards with 1,073 and became the first TE in NFL history to complete three consecutive seasons with over 1,000 yards. He's up for the leagues Man Of The Year award which is largely based on community service along with on-field performance. Imagine where this team is without "GEO" (as he's known in the locker room) Yikes!

Rejoice! QB Cam Newton was the beneficiary of his first "roughing the passer" call since 2014. It came in week 12 (eye-roll) after weeks of being battered and bruised (See week one vs. Denver). A lack of calls didn't demish his use of hats. I was going to type "fashion forward" before the word "hats", but the pink one missed the mark IMO. There was also that time when Cam got in trouble for not wearing a neck tie to the game in Seattle because he had sent all of his dress clothes home. Oops.

Cam would probably like to retract that move, and maybe a few of his errant passes (14 interceptions). But we all know, it's the journey that's important so we move forward to next season.

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Ngozi Ekeledo -- Kurt Coleman Emerges as Secondary's Leader

Before the season even started, the Panthers came in with a major dent from their Super Bowl 50 team, after losing electric cornerback Josh Norman in a franchise tag fiasco-turned-breakup.

While the team used three draft picks on rookie cornerbacks to help fill the void (and growing pains ensued), a familiar face among the secondary stepped up in a big way when it came to leadership during this season's campaign.

Carolina Panthers strong safety Kurt Coleman (20) celebrates his interception and touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons.
AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt

In his second season with the Panthers, safety Kurt Coleman helped take command of an incredibly young group of DBs. Coleman led the Panthers with 4 interceptions on the year and tallied 90 tackles on the season. Besides leading by example, Coleman played an even bigger role as the secondary's vocal leader.

The Panthers will look to Coleman to continue to provide this type of contribution, both on and off the field, next season.

Check out the Panthers Huddle season in review Saturday at 7 p.m. on ABC11.

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