Interestingly, the last time the Jacksonville Jaguars faced off against the Carolina Panthers was on December 9, 2007 in Jacksonville. The Jaguars won that game by a score of 37-6. It was the 3rd victory against the Panthers in four attempts since they both joined the National Football League in 1995.
It was the last year the Jaguars would make it to the playoffs. That was also the year that the Jaguars cut their starting QB, Byron Leftwich, 9 days before the start of the regular season, due to a poor preseason, and allowed David Garrard to start. He, and the Jaguars strong defense and running game, would lead the Jaguars to a 2nd place finish in the AFC South with a 11-5 record and make it in to the playoffs as a wild-card.
The Panthers did not fair too well that season. They stumbled to a 9-7 record and finished second in the NFC South, although to be fair they did win 3 of their last 5 games.
The two teams seemed to be going in different directions. The Panthers did not look good, while the Jaguars looked like they were poised to become regular visitors in the playoffs. How false that proved to be – for both teams. In 2008 the Panthers would finish the season at 12-4 and win the NFC South while Jacksonville would begin a slide that has yet to end, missing the playoffs each season since.
The Panthers were ultimately a one-year wonder in 2008 as they would begin their slide again in 2009. It really got bad for them last season, 2010, when they finished a miserable 2-14. That led them to have the #1 overall draft choice in the 2011 NFL draft where they selected Cam Newton. Of course, we have all heard about him by now. It appears they got their franchise guy to lead them for the next decade, but time will tell.
Jacksonville would finish 2010 with an 8-8 record and end up trading up to the #10 spot in the 2011 draft and select what they hope will be the franchise guy to lead them for the next decade in Blaine Gabbert. This also has been well publicized for the past few months.
Tomorrow we will get a look at both of these 1st round draft choices when the Panthers and Jaguars square off in Carolina.
Will it be a repeat of 2007?
Much like that season the Jaguars cut their starting QB 5 days before the regular season started. Will it have the same effect? Will that decision, along with the seemingly strong defense and run game, propel this team to the playoffs in 2011? Will the Panthers fail to miss the playoffs this season and look to be heading down the wrong path, only to make a leap the next season to grab the division crown like they did in 2008?
Time will tell.
So while it may be interesting that these two teams have similar circumstances to the 2007 season, they are vastly different teams. They both appear to be in ascension and it is believed that both have found their QB of the future. For both of these teams the future is now.