In an attempt to figure out their offensive woes, the Carolina Panthers have stated that they plan to give offensive lineman Byron Bell a shot at playing left guard for the 2014 season. This move is not only foolhardy, but it also reveals that the Panthers, despite bringing in some new talent, still have a lot of fixing to do on the offensive side of the ball.
To put it bluntly, Bell is not an able or skilled offensive lineman. He took a lot of heat last season due to his softness, and while Bell is able to block the run, he often falters against fast or powerful rushes. Protecting Cam Newton is something that Carolina really needs to be focused on, and that is not something Bell can reliably provide. He was responsible for a good number of the sacks allowed last year, and appears to be too soft to work as a strong right tackle.
Now, despite his faults, the Panthers are moving him to left tackle, which could prove to be even more problematic.
A left tackle, besides a quarterback, is perhaps the most valuable position on a football team. Left tackles anchor the line, and allow the offense to run through them. If Bell struggled as a right tackle, there is almost no doubt that he’s going to struggle as a LT. Amping up the pressure on Bell is not a good mix, as he will most likely have even more problems in his new role.
Losing Jordan Gross was a huge blow to the Panthers’ offense (which already had problems protecting Newton last year), and now they are in need of an adequate replacement. This replacement should realistically come in the NFL Draft, which has a good number of tackles available, and not from their already shoddy line.
Merely moving Bell over to left tackle is not going to help the line, and will not even come close to replacing Gross. With so many absences, the Panthers’ future relies on the draft, not a struggling right tackle who leaves much to be desired.