All eight episodes of "All or Nothing: The Carolina Panthers" will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video starting July 19.
In 2017, Carolina narrowly lost to the Saints in the playoffs two seasons after reaching the Super Bowl, and the Panthers surely hoped "All or Nothing" would study the team's rise back to the top of the NFC in 2018. Instead, cameras ended up capturing Carolina's slow disintegration as a Super Bowl contender, a 6-2 start wiped away by a seven-game losing streak and the loss of a star player to injury.
In an ideal world, Amazon will land on a Super Bowl winner one of these years. So far, they've hit on one playoff team (the 2015 Cardinals), one also-ran (the 2017 Cowboys) and one tire fire (the 2016 Rams). It's a testament to the production that each season has remained entertaining and informative, regardless of the featured team's level of on-field success. NFL Films always finds a way.
1) Cam's trying year
The downward trajectory of the Panthers' 2018 season can be traced directly back to shoulder problems that began affecting Cam Newton following a Week 7 win over the Eagles. Newton couldn't shake soreness in the joint, which weakened his throwing arm and badly hamstrung Carolina's offense down the stretch. The Panthers finally shut Newton down for the final two games of the season, and the passer proceeded to undergo offseason surgery. "All or Nothing" will give us a behind-the-scenes look at Newton's fruitless attempts to get right as the season began to slip away.
"You can't rub magic dust on it, go to this or that person, have the placebo things done where you think certain things are what they are -- and you come out and you're still the same," Newton said in December. "Over the past couple of weeks, nothing has really changed."
2) Rivera makes a difficult decision
Four games into the infernal losing streak that would ruin his team's campaign, Panthers coach Ron Rivera decided to throw up the strategic equivalent of a Hail Mary. A day after a Week 13 loss to the lowly Bucs, Rivera announced that the team had demoted defensive coordinator Eric Washington and fired defensive line coach Brady Hoke and assistant secondary/cornerbacks coach Jeff Imamura. Rivera said that the bombshell decision was announced after he'd met with owner David Tepper and general manager Marty Hurney. Will "All or Nothing" give us access to that meeting? Will we see Rivera deliver the news to the affected members of his coaching staff? These are unpleasant scenarios for the team, but it's part of what you sign up for when you agree to the 24/7 treatment of being part of a docuseries like this.
3) Eric Reid gets a job
During their Week 4 bye, the Panthersmade headlines by announcing the signing of veteran safety Eric Reid. Reid, of course, gained national prominence for being the first player to join former 49ers teammate Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Reid had remained a free agent since March of 2018, a curiosity that led to the NFL Players Association filing a collusion grievance (which was settled in February) against the NFL on Reid's behalf.
"We made this decision based on the fact he's a good football player," Hurney told ESPN at the time. "He's played at a very high level the last few years. We think he can come in and help us win games."
4) It wasn't all bad on the field ...
NFL Films always delivers the goods with game coverage, providing new angles to digest and a fresh perspective from the sideline. The season's most exciting game came in Week 5 against the Giants, a 33-31 Panthers win best remembered for the 63-yard field goal Graham Gano kicked with one second to play. "A wise man told me once that a great quarterback is only as good as his kicker," Newton said after the game. We'll also get Odell Beckham Jr. catching and throwing a touchdown in what would end up being his final season in New York, not to mention one of the 13 100-scrimmage-yard efforts from Saquon Barkley's historic rookie season.
5) A franchise legend says goodbye
The 2018 season would prove to be the final run for Julius Peppers, the sack master who began and ended his brilliant 17-year career in Carolina. The second overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, Peppers finished his career with 159.5 sacks, fourth on the all-time list. Peppers has earned his place both in Canton and on the Panthers' version of Mount Rushmore. He was a quiet superstar who never sought the spotlight, even as he piled up personal achievements during an NFL tenure that also included stops in Chicago and Green Bay. "All or Nothing" will give us a glimpse of a dignified franchise great -- who, even as a 38-year-old on the verge of retirement, finished with the second most sacks (5.0) on the team last season -- saying goodbye.