Skip to main content

Can Panthers offense follow Eagles' blueprint?


SPARTANBURG, S.C. – It was hardly a Super Bowl prediction.

"(We) have a shot, that's all you can ask for. At this point, everyone believes they have a shot," wide receiver Torrey Smith said Monday after the Panthers wrapped up training camp.

"Probably only 20 teams really have a legit chance and I would say [we're one]."

But Smith then made an analogy that could make folks in Carolina feel they have even better odds.

"I think when you look at the running back room and the receiving room, we don't have guys that stand out," he continued. "Like people [aren't] going to be like, 'Hey, these guys are going to have a bazillion yards.'"

That's not the typical rah-rah stuff you hear this time of year. Smith's point, though? The Eagles totaled just three 100-yard receiving games last year.

"And we won the Super Bowl," he said. "That tells you that there's different guys contributing, everyone's playing their part and no one cared. You saw how much fun we had up there celebrating. We were all on the same page, genuinely cared about each other and wanted success for each other."

Despite their lack of video game-like numbers, Philadelphia won 13 games and ranked third in scoring. Sure, opponents didn't have to worry about defending marquee stars, but it was unpredictability that made the Eagles dangerous.

That brings us to the Panthers, whose roster includes just one wideout who's hit 1,000 yards in a season. That was Smith five years ago. The group's top wideout, Devin Funchess, averaged 561.3 yards his first three years. Then there's the wily veteran, Jarius Wright, and the kids, like first-round pick DJ Moore and 2017 second-rounder Curtis Samuel.

If any of quarterback Cam Newton's targets stand to put up numbers that can help win fantasy football leagues, it's running back Christian McCaffrey – helped by the sheer number of touches he may get – and Greg Olsen, the only tight end in NFL history with three straight 1,000-yard seasons.

Put it all together, and Smith believes the Panthers can confuse defenses just like the Eagles did.

"You just have to be able to support each other and have no egos. You can't because it's all about the team. I've learned that when you truly believe it's all about the team, it all ends up showing in the end," Smith said.

"It's probably a learned behavior, but for me, I want to win."

Of course, Smith is more than a football player. He uses his platform more than others, which draws others to him.

Case in point - what happened after Monday's practice.

As Smith was signing autographs, he met some youths from AMIKids White Pines. Based about a half hour away from Spartanburg, the group helps kids who have made committed a variety of non-violent offenses or who have behavioral issues. Smith took an immediate interest.

"I'd be doing a disservice to everyone if I didn't go out and explain to them that the situation that they're in they can't control. Whether it's their household, the way they're living, how they're growing up - they can't control that. They can't (let that) define their future," Smith said. "That's what I did – I learned at an early age that it didn't matter what was going on around me. I stuck with the books, stayed out of trouble and I stood a chance of making it out and I did."

So Smith invited the kids onto the field to deliver a message, showing once again that he has no plans to stick to football.

"My message to them was just about not letting the past define them," he said. "'We've all made mistakes. None of us are perfect. Y'all are lucky that you have the opportunity to go out there and change it. Especially while you're young.'"