Dave Gettleman: "I feel like this is 2015 all over again"
June 21, 2017 01:30 PM | Max Henson
CHARLOTTE - As much as the Panthers didn't want to admit it, a Super Bowl hangover affected them en route to a 6-10 record in 2016. General manager Dave Gettleman conceded as much late last week.

"Last year we were tired, and I think guys got carried away," he said. "It's hard - I've seen a Super Bowl hangover after you win it and after you lose it, and it ain't pretty.

"There's a different attitude this year. I feel like this is 2015 all over again with this group."

If the hangover has come and gone, will things go back to the way they were in 2015? Well, the core from that NFC championship team remains intact, and obviously quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly are enviable starting points for any franchise.

"I feel good about the roster, I feel good about the team," Gettleman continued. "I really like where we're at."

Much of the talk this offseason centered on enhancing the offense, and several moves were made to that end.

The first two rounds of the draft resulted in the arrival of two game-breaking talents. Running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Curtis Samuel are versatile speedsters that have every armchair offensive coordinator salivating over the possible ways to create big plays and torture defenses.

As Gettleman said, "They're elusive. They have the ability to make people miss. And they can break some ankles." That's something the Panthers didn't have before.

Up front, former top-five pick Matt Kalil was signed to a big-money deal to step in at left tackle - a necessary move considering the still uncertain future of Michael Oher. And on the right side, Gettleman is encouraged by what he's seen from Daryl Williams and rookie Taylor Moton.

On defense, veteran free agent acquisitions have helped recreate a vibe that existed during the magical 2015 campaign. This year, it's defensive end Julius Peppers, safety Mike Adams and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (36 combined seasons of experience). Two years ago it was defensive end Jared Allen, safety Roman Harper and cornerback Charles Tillman (then 32 combined seasons of experience).

The similarities aren't accidental.

"Are we trying to copy what we did? You're darn right," head coach Ron Rivera said earlier this offseason. "We really are."

The front-line players look terrific on paper, but as we know, every team's depth will be tested at one point or another, for one reason or another.

Last year, the Carolina cornerbacks had a target on their backs from Week 1. That target grew bigger after James Bradberry was hurt and the team parted ways with veteran Bene Benwikere.

"In 2015, when we went out there for offense or defense, you didn't have your eyes closed on any guy that walked out there," Gettleman said. "It wasn't like, 'If they find him, we're in trouble.' I believe we're back to that, especially with the way Daryl (Worley) and James finished - plus the springs they had."

As for the depth in the secondary? That's a question mark that will follow the Panthers into training camp and the regular season.

"We have some really good depth in a lot of places. But the salary cap doesn't allow you to have quality depth everywhere," Gettleman said. "Sometimes your depth has got to be the young guys. You've evaluated them, they've shown they have the ability to play, and now it's a matter of figuring it out because this is a whole different level."

Before departing for summer break, Gettleman and Rivera took a long look at the roster from top to bottom.

They left the office feeling optimistic that things will continue to come together when everyone gathers in Spartanburg.

"We went through the roster and Ron's excited," Gettleman said, "which is all I care about."

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