Carolina Panthers: 2003 vs 2015, Who’s better?

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Sep 28, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. (89) shakes hands with Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman (24) after their game at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

When asked which team was better, Gross and Delhomme both stated that the 2015 team was the better team. They didn’t have to go far either with that comparison either. Both turned to one player, Cam Newton, as the difference. Delhomme was a caretaker quarterback who just happened to get hot at the right time. Newton is a playmaker with a skill set that makes him a bigger version of the president of his Super Bowl opponent Denver Broncos. Newton might be Elway 2.0, hopefully with better Super Bowl luck.

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Is there any other way to find out which team is better? Just sizing things up, you would get a Josh Norman – Steve Smith matchup. That would probably make Muhammad the key target for the 2003 team. Stephen Davis would find some tough sledding as well despite a veteran offensive line.

On the other side, the 2003 defensive line was a monster and would test the o-line tremendously. Running, even in a read option scheme, would be difficult with Dan Morgan and Will Witherspoon to pursue the runner. This would be true whether Jonathan Stewart or Newton ran the ball. The key weapon would probably be Greg Olsen. While the 2003 Panthers could assign Mike Minter or Deon Grant to him, Olsen tends to find openings.

There would also be the speed issue with the wide receivers. The 2003 secondary was pretty good because the defensive line made their job easier. If Newton keeps plays alive, Ted Ginn and others would eventually find openings.

In all I think it would be a close game, with the 2015 Panthers winning by no more than ten points. I’m just not sure if Smith or Norman would survive the game without being thrown out.

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