What can we expect from head coach Ron Rivera in the 2019 season?
With the emergence of teams around the league putting all they have into their offenses and seeing great results, defensive-minded head coaches like Ron Rivera are few and far between. Just looking at coaches that got jobs this offseason sheds light onto the new trend -- a young, offensive-minded coach that is going to bring a team to greatness, much like Sean McVay did with the Los Angeles Rams. Rivera will be beginning his 9th season as the Panthers head coach in 2019, and after dabbling with it a little last year, will fully assume the role of defensive play-caller this season. In an attempt to counter some of these explosive new offenses, Rivera is moving away from just running a 4-3 defense. Instead, he will be implementing a new hybrid defense where he switches from 4-3 and 3-4. If Rivera shows again in 2019 that he is able to counteract these new offenses, his job will likely be secure as defense is a way to win games, too.
What can we expect from the Panthers' defense in 2019?
With the above being said about Rivera and his schemes, a defense is only as good as its players. Despite having an overall good D last year, \the Panthers had tough time of rushing the passer and dropping into effective coverage. Adding defensive end/linebacker Brian Burns in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft is one way the Panthers are looking to remedy that. In the second round, they took another DE/LB Christina Miller, who is slated to backup Shaq Thompson. Injuries certainly didn't help last year, but with some fresh personnel and a re-commitment by Ron Rivera to shake things up on defense, the Panthers have a good shot of being very effective on the defensive side of things.
Will Christian McCaffrey be as effective this season as he was last year?
I have a theory about young NFL Players, even if no one asked. It's this: the third year is the make or break point for any player. After having two years of experience under their belt, the player should be able hold his own on the field. On top of this, they're usually 23-25 years old at that point, in what many would say is the prime of their physical capabilities. I happen to think McCaffrey will have a tremendous third year with the Panthers in 2019. Unlike some other positions, RB isn't necessarily something other teams can "figure out" and put a stop to. The way McCaffrey runs the ball is electric, and not to mention how effective he was in the air last season. McCaffrey will be a huge factor for the Panthers' offense this year, as well as a top fantasy producer.