The Panthers' season was over before it began.
We all knew it right then and there, under overcast skies on a Wednesday morning in Spartanburg, South Carolina, as we watched the team's top wide receiver crumple to the ground. While Kelvin Benjamin clutched his left knee in a joint practice with the Dolphins, the crowd that had gathered there watched in stunned silence.
Before Benjamin fell, most people in the organization believed this was a season Carolina could compete with the elite teams in the NFC. No chance that was happening now. Sure, they could win the weak NFC South, but anything better than that would have to wait until 2016.
The hopes of 2015 were being loaded onto a cart. Benjamin had been the best player in training camp—yup, even more impressive than stars Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly. As Benjamin was whisked away and driven past Dave Gettleman, you couldn't help but wonder what was going through the mind of the Panthers’ general manager. Even he had to know, right?
But this is where we’re different.