Growl Towel on April 11th, 2011

Looks like the Carolina Panthers are really doing their research on Cam Newton. I for one think this would be a massive mistake. I’d also be shocked to see Richardson and Marty Hurney shell out that kind of cake for a #1 overall QB. This is the kind of stuff that happens right before they fire Marty Hurney.

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Growl Towel on March 17th, 2011

Da’Quan Bowers is a prototypical pass rushing Defensive End. After finishing his Junior year at Clemson, Da’Quan elevated his draft potential by becoming a finalist for the Lombardi, Bednarik, and Nagurski awards in 2010. He amassed 15.5 sacks and 24 tackles for a loss in his final year at Clemson, and is widely regarded around the NFL as being the top Defensive End in the 2011 NFL draft.

The downsides for Da’Quan are there however. In 2009, he missed 3 games with a knee injury, a kiss of death for a defensive end. Without an explosive move off the line, a defensive end becomes irrelevant. The other drawback on Da’Quan is that according to the scouts, he doesn’t play the run as well as he could – he’s more of a pass rushing End. This is an immediate red-flag for the Panthers who were horrific at stopping the run in 2010.

Don’t get me wrong, the Carolina Panthers could not pressure the QB at all in 2010 – a serious deficit. But pressuring the QB won’t help our other issues. And besides, Charles Johnson, Tyler Brayton, and Everette Brown have done an admirable job in their rotation. What the Panthers suffer from more is opposing team’s offensive lines who don’t have to double our tackles up front. Without their Guards helping out the center, they can roam to the outside to pick up our DE. That leaves their help free to pick up blitzes, and renders our pass-rush worthless.

Even with those drawbacks, the biggest issue when evaluating Da’Quan relates to any hangover we may have from Julius Peppers. Peppers was great, even if he was lazy on the field from time to time, but making the mistake thinking that we can replace his greatness with Da’Quan Bowers would be detrimental the overall long term success of the team. The front office has to be aware of their biases and look past them to evaluate the true needs of the 2011 Carolina Panthers.

Da’Quan Bowers should be demoted to #5 on the Carolina Panthers wish list.

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Growl Towel on March 15th, 2011

Oh Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy boy… When are you gonna find whatever it is you’re lookin for?!?!

For a while I’ve been trying to stick it out with Jimmy Clausen. I think the kid’s got the talent to make the big throws, the short memory an NFL QB needs to survive, and the toughness to make it in this league. I’m a Jimmy Clausen fan, but I’m starting to wonder if I’m just that way because I’m still not over how bad Jake Delhomme sucked. Hell I could play better QB than Jake, so Jimmy looks like freakin Joe Montana when comparing the two. But could we PLEASE give Jimbo some time in the pocket in 2011? The kid was on his back 9 out of 10 5 step drop pass patterns… I don’t care if you’re Tom Brady – no QB can succeed in the NFL when facing that type of pressure.

But the question here really is, do you think the Panthers biggest need in the NFL draft is a QB leader type? My answer to that question is no – sure it’s a MAJOR MAJOR need, but when your team loses 14 games in a season, you need a lot of stuff.

Cam Newton was definitely the best player in college football last season. The kid’s got the mechanics, the drive, the leadership ability, and the natural athletic talent to look like a man-child on the college football field. It’s all good news – but do all the pieces add up to #1 pick status? And would Jerry Richardson open his wallet to pay #1 overall QB money?

A lot of comparisons to Tim Tebow floated around last season as Newton ran a similar style offense – and was no stranger to running the football. But here is where we run into a bit of an issue with Cam. Running over 210 pound linebackers in college looks impressive on film, but doesn’t translate to the NFL where you have 260 pound monsters looking to take your head off. His scrambling ability certainly doesn’t rival Mike Vicks, so his ability to run is pretty much a wash in the NFL.

I do agree that Cam’s mechanics coming out of college are better than Tebows. Tim would wind up to throw the football, where Cam Newton uses a compact throwing motion that would need minor, if any, tweaks to be NFL ready. That said, he ran an offense almost exclusively from the shotgun formation at Auburn and has had trouble in the combines and pro-days when practicing 5 and 7 step drops from under center. The scouts at the combines do admit that Cam Newton has shown immediate progress and a driving work ethic to improve, but the last thing the Panthers need is another ‘project’ taking snaps.

Another issue you have to consider when evaluating Cam Newton is that he ran a college style offense in Auburn. He typically had one or two reads to make, and if it wasn’t there, he took the ball down and ran with it. That experience won’t translate well to the pros. You have to be able to check the ball down, and if you’re scramble happy, NFL defenses adjust quickly.

The biggest upside to Cam Newton is his leadership ability. It was truly an epic thing to watch him completely shake off all the off-field drama with his Dad acting shady behind the scenes, and march his team into the BCS game, and then win the BCS title game. Guys around him wanted to follow him and live up to his expectations. His ability to control the vibe of his team may be his biggest selling point come draft day.

Conclusion: Unfortunately, the Panthers biggest need isn’t on this side of the football. If Andrew Luck was available, he should be #1 overall, but he isn’t, and Cam Newton just isn’t good enough to be #1 overall. Put him #4 on your Panthers draft day wish list.

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Growl Towel on March 13th, 2011

The Carolina Panthers need to seriously look at Marcel Dareus as the #1 overall draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft. I completely agree that Marcel Dareus didn’t have the highlight reel that Nick Fairley had in 2010, but Dareus has been a disruptive force for Alabama for three years. Fairley’s had one good season, and that’s it. Another similarity? Dareus had a monster BCS title game (2009), just like Fairley (2010).

So what you say is the difference? Quite a bit. First, Dareus’ size. Dareus and Fairley are both 6’3″, but Dareus outweighs the Auburn Tigers alum by 28lbs. That extra weight is more that the offensive lines have to deal with as a game drags on in the fourth quarter.
EDGE: Marcel Dareus

The logical comeback of course is, well Fairley’s lighter, so his 40 time has to be better. Well yes, but not as dramatic as you would think. In the NFL combine Nick Fairley only managed to beat out Dareus’ 40 by one tenth of a second.
EDGE: Nick Fairley

So Dareus is almost 30 pounds heavier, has more experience, and is just as fast as Fairley – so far so good.

Ron Rivera’s bread and butter in making San Diego a top-flight defense was based in a 3-4 system. The only way you can run a successful 3-4 is to have a monster in the middle eating up double teams. I believe both Fairley and Dareus can do this for the Panthers.
EDGE: Draw

Why do I think Marcel Dareus is a better #1 overall pick than Fairley? The deciding factor is Dareus’ intangibles. There’s plenty of evidence that Fairley has a nasty, dirty side to his play. There’s also plenty of evidence that Fairley is a bit of a motivation enigma – will he commit his body to the sport? These questions don’t cloud Marcel, and therefore give him the edge when it comes to draft time.

EDGE OVERALL: Marcel Dareus

Conclusion: Marcel Dareus is a safer, more reliable pick than Nick Fairley – something the Panthers desperately need as they try and rebuild. Marcel Dareus should be #2 on the Panthers wish list.

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Growl Towel on March 11th, 2011

The Carolina Panthers rushing defense was a black eye for the team in 2011. Don’t get me wrong, we sucked in a lot of areas, but run defense was particularly bad. One of the major reasons why we sucked was the fact that our defensive line was about as effective against the run as LeBron James would be at running for mayor of Cleveland.

The answer to the problem could be a disruptive, nasty force in the middle, a guy like Nick Fairley. Fairley was the dominant force on defense for the Champion Auburn Tigers last season. He often found himself in the backfield disrupting the play and being a general nuisance for opposing teams offense. If Fairley could develop his size and speed enough to play the same way in the NFL, he would be a rock in the middle of the Panther Defense for the next decade.

The downside however, is massive for a guy like Fairley. His reputation has suffered over the year as he built up his brand of being a dirty player. Not exactly the leadership type the Panthers so desperately need in the locker room.

He’s also only had one terrific season for the Tigers. Sure, it was a massive showing, and he played big during the National Championship, but do you risk #1 overall on a guy who’s only proven he can produce at such a high level for a single season?

His dedication to the sport has also come into question during the combine meetings this off season. All of these risk factors should be major red flags for the Panthers come draft day as they desperately need to draft someone who will help the team out for the next several years. I mean let’s face it, do the Carolina Panthers really want to take on an Albert Haynesworth clone?

Conclusion: The upside is huge for Nick Fairley, but the downside is just as dramatic. Panthers should drop Fairley on their draft board to #3.

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Growl Towel on March 9th, 2011

Why should Patrick Peterson be included in the discussion of potential #1 overall picks? Because he’s the best freakin athlete in the draft – check out these insane Patrick Peterson highlights. How often does a Troy Polomalu, Ed Reed, or Champ Bailey become available? Never – that’s how often. Patrick Peterson is that type of talent, and he’s only a junior at LSU.

Currently the Carolina Panthers defensive backs are fairly solid. Chris Gamble has proven to be a reliable corner and provides decent coverage down field. Richard Marshall was never supposed to be a #2 corner, but his amazing work ethic, speed, and frankly, arrogance have propelled him into that role.

The Safety situation for the Panthers however gets a little more fuzzy. Sherrod Martin had some decent looks last year, but he’s no Ronnie Lott back there. This is exactly why the Panthers should take a good hard look at Patrick Peterson. Sure the kid plays Corner now, but with his speed and size he could transition to safety without much challenge.

The Panthers need to stop the run, so how does drafting a DBack help them do that? It’s really quite simple. If you only need 3 or 4 guys covering the back field, you can stuff 7 or 8 in the box. The kicker of course is that Patrick Peterson’s blazing speed and size (6’3″ 220) allows him to crush ball handlers in the middle of the field. It adds that element of intimidation for targets over the middle.

The kicker of course is that that Patrick Peterson would instantly get playing time as the Carolina Panthers kick returner. Peterson was blistering fast at LSU returning kicks, and if he could do the same in the pros, the entire makeup of our team changes. Imagine us starting with the ball at the opposition’s 40 yard line instead of the 20. All of a sudden a 60 yard field looks a lot more manageable than an 80 yard one. Not only that, but it takes the pressure off of the defense overall. We punted the ball out of our own end zone last season more times than I’d like to remember, and Patrick Peterson would help us forget those troubles.

Conclusion: Patrick Peterson should be #1 on the Carolina Panthers wish list.

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Growl Towel on March 5th, 2011

Everyone in Carolina is talking about the Panthers #1 overall pick in the upcomming 2011 NFL draft. Here’s a breakdown of Carolina’s biggest needs.

Panthers need to Stop the Run
Repeatedly last season, the Panthers were gashed by opposing teams rushing attack. Ranked 23rd overall in rushing defense, the Panthers were also the 7th worst team giving up Rushing points at 408 last season. The most alarming stat however is the fact that opposing teams rushed against the Panthers 121 times (out of 503 total attempts) on first down. This means that everyone in the stadium was looking for run, the opposition handed the ball off, and they still moved the sticks forward.

Thomas Davis was sorely missed, but he may have been even more missed because his absence moved Jon Beason out of the middle LB position. Having a healthy line backing core will certainly help the Panthers stop the run, but the biggest issue they face at this point is a big body taking up the middle of the line of scrimmage. If the other teams are lining up on 1st and 10 and running the football effectively, it’s because they don’t respect our rush defense. A monster in the middle would certainly help our cause.

Does that mean we’re going with Nick Fairley or Marcell Dareous first overall? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least, but that’s fodder for a different post…

Pass Defense
On paper, the Carolina Panthers passing defense is not awful. Sure we did get smoked like a blunt at a Michael Phelps party, but we wound up 11th on the overall pass defense rankings for 2011.

But don’t let it fool you. The biggest reason we were so effective in this category is because teams had too easy a time running the football. Who needs to pass against a team who A. can’t score and B. gives up so much on the ground?

Our Safety situation is still a concern for the team. Richard Marshall and Chris Gamble have done a fine job on the corners, but can only do so much against top flight receivers. A center fielder in the secondary with some speed and a bit of pop would lock down our pass defense and allow us to put 8 in the box to stuff the run.

Panthers need a Leader – Preferably a QB
Jimmy, I’m not completely done with you yet. I want to see what you can do now that you’re a year older and a year wiser. But I gotta admit – I was all in on Andrew Luck saving this franchise. The problem of course is that the QB draft class after Andrew Luck takes a serious nose dive. Cam Newton? I just don’t see how a kid who didn’t run a pro-style offense and who had to make one, maybe two reads before delivering the football can stand in an NFL pocket and produce. Sure, you lead the Tigers to a championship, but we need a franchise QB, and I just don’t see that potential out of you, or Blaine Gabbert.

Overall the Panthers need a lot more than just these top three items, but we need to shore up the basics before we can start playing with the big boys.

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Growl Towel on November 30th, 2010

Jonathan Stewart had a successful return to action this past Sunday versus the Cleveland Browns. Stewart carried the ball 12 times for 98 yards and generally looked to be in great game shape throughout the contest. Jonathan Stewart basically looked like the future of the franchise, which very well may be the case now that DeAngelo Williams can’t prove his worth over the last few weeks of the 2010 season.

Mike Goodson also had a good game against the Browns, and continued to make the most of his opportunity after Williams and Stewart teamed up to ride some pine over the past 2 weeks.

So the question becomes, who’s your starter for next week against the Seattle Seahawks? I have to give the nod to Jonathan Stewart for one reason alone. Mike Goodson has fumbilitis. I mean seriously. Can someone please give this guy a Tiki Barber video? Tiki Barber had fumbilitis too and then one off-season, made a change to hold the ball higher against his chest. Viola! no more fumble problems. To back that up with some fact, between 2000 and 2003, Tiki Barber fumbled the ball 35 times. After an off-season of working on keeping the ball ‘high and tight’ Tiki fumbled the ball a total of 9 times over the final 3 seasons of his career. Seriously it’s a crime that our coaches haven’t developed Goodson – oh wait, I forgot who our coach was…

Dare I say it, but you could trade DeAngelo for a veteran QB to develop Jimmy, teach Goodson not to fumble, make Stewart your starter, and nobody would know the difference. Hell we could win 3 games next year with those changes in place, save us some money, and it would be a resounding success of a season!!

Who should be the starting RB for the rest of 2010?

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Growl Towel on November 22nd, 2010

Currently, the Carolina Panthers are the worst team in the NFL. Based on their performances week in and week out, they could wind up being a part of the worst team’s in NFL history list. It’s tough being a Carolina Panthers fan right now. The Bills and Lions are better teams than we are. Our coach seems to think that a JV offense is good enough to keep us in football games. And our players come out of the locker room each Sunday looking depressed because they know what’s about to happen. The stadium is empty and fans that do show up are wearing opposing team jersey’s instead of the Blue and Black.

Seriously, if they don’t fire John Fox before the 2011 season starts, something is wrong at the top of the house. We’ve already thrown in the towel for this year, and it appears as though Jerry Richardson is happy and content to just go ahead and lock the players out next year. 20 bucks says we lose DeAngelo Williams this year and draft someone we don’t need with the #1 overall pick.

The Carolina Panthers suck, let’s face it. Unless something drastic happens, we’re not going to get much better next season either. Especially when Jimmy Clausen is taking tips from Brian St. Pierre on how to be an NFL caliber quarterback.

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Growl Towel on November 15th, 2010

Brilliant game caller John Fox decided it was a good idea to run back to back QB sneaks at the end of the Tampa Bay and Carolina Panthers game this past Sunday. Coaching genius this amazing really only comes along once in a lifetime. Not only did Jimmy Clausen crack his scull, but the Panthers failed to move the ball 6 inches on back to back plays. Let’s review some of the other amazing coaching decisions made by John Fox concerning the prized rookie QB.

Season starts with QB Matt Moore at the helm. He sucked… I mean epic sucking. 5 picks in the first two games, 2 TD passes, an average completion percentage at 40% and two losses by a combined total of 51 to 25. Clausen gets 2 snaps in the first game and 20 more in game 2.

Fox, apparently now completely unafraid to pull the starting QB after spending the past couple of seasons riding Jake Delhomme for better or worse into the dumpster, benches Moore in favor of Jimmy Clausen. The rookie has spent 2 NFL games on the bench at this point, not exactly the type of preparation needed for a young QB.

Sure as anyone could have predicted, Clausen gets and has been getting shelacked. His completion percentage for games 3 and 4 is a decent 50% and he matches a single touchdown with a single pick, but winds up losing 2 of his 3 fumbles primarily due to the fact the kid has yet to develop a good understanding of how fast the NFL game is and how little timing he actually has in the pocket.

Since then, he’s struggled getting whipped by Chicago, New Orleans, and Tampa. To make matters worse, John Fox actually benches the kid after a poor performance against the Bears. First of all, you don’t put Clausen into a starting role after game 2 and second of all, once the FUTURE OF YOUR FRANCHISE is under center… you ride him like the horse he is! you don’t bench him after he struggles!

What exactly is John Fox doing with the kid? He’s throwing Clausen to the wolves and letting them tear him and his confidence level to shreds. John Fox should have saved Clausen from this blood bath and let him sit on the bench getting hungrier and hungrier. Instead, we’ve got a gun shy All-American who can’t seem to stay off the turf. We need to fire John Fox before he sinks next years team as well. How the hell is Bill Cowher supposed to win without a QB to manage the game?

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