As much of a revelation as the Panthers' offense was last year, it actually has a chance to be better this year.
It didn't take much to improve on 2010, as the Panthers had a horrible offense with a lame-duck coaching staff and unprepared passers. That led to predictable results, last in the league in points, yards, just about any way you could measure it.
But Cam Newton proved a quick study, and they added as the season went, so the decision was made to keep expanding.
The way it worked, there's no reason to not be optimistic. The Panthers were fifth in the league in points scored in 2011, and there are no ostensible reasons they shouldn't be able to do that again.
Asked about the increased playbook, Newton said: "You want to come look at my playbook?" I'm telling you, man, it ain't on the Atkins diet, I can tell you that."
The Panthers are willing to add to Newton's responsibility, because unlike last season, they actually have an offseason.
Even in a time of reduced OTAs and minicamps, any amount of offseason work with coaches will be more than Newton received last year because of the lockout.
"I think this part helps a lot -- minicamps, OTAs," the Panthers' quarterback said. "That's something that I didn't have last year. I feel like if I would've had it, I would have been far advanced than I was.
"But having this time with the coaches and players is something that you can't get with just working out every single day. And hopefully it shows come game time."
With a little luck, Newton won't have to carry, or do as much this year. They brought in fullback Mike Tolbert to add to an already good run game, and they hope the return of speed threat David Gettis at wide receiver to go with Steve Smith and the emerging Brandon LaFell adds some wrinkles to save Newton from having to do too much himself.
But at the center of all that is offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who interviewed for the Jacksonville head coaching job that went to Mike Mularkey.
Tight end Greg Olsen summed it up for the Panthers, saying he had mixed feelings about the career path of the man he called "one of the top offensive minds in the league."
"Believe me, we feel fortunate he didn't get any of those jobs," Olsen said of Chudzinski.
Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.