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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Big Win, and What It Means: v/s SEA, 12/16

What a fun game out there, with Matt Moore taking charge. Very little scoring, but he was effective. Did well on 3rd down, did well overall. He always talks about being jittery, but never shows it. Still, the rookie had thrown 3 INT in 20 attempts, which is concerning even after his solid play this week.

He's the only live arm left; Vinny Testaverde is used up, David Carr is a quivering, shell-shocked mess. He should start the last two games, though the games don't get any easier from here.

Still, a top flight defensive performance and a stable quarterback have given us a home winning streak (at 2 games) and a little confidence. Seattle's not a terrible football team. Haphazardly putting together far-fetched playoff scenarios in mid-December certainly beats putting together battle plans for clearing out the staff.

As well, solid spot-time work from Ryne Robinson was good to see; it was magical seeing Thomas Davis make what became the game-winning play.

It appears that John Fox is, in fact, safe for the upcoming year, though expect a few more changes. Jeff Davidson and much of the offense will have earned a reprieve, though it's uncertain if the other recent changes (promoted OL coach Dave Magazu, promoted TEs coach Geep Chryst, or title-added QBs coach/passing coordinator Mike McCoy) will continue in their current roles. Jim Skipper is safe; Richard Williamson is assumed safe and tenured, but at age 66 may be leaving soon. Defensively, it's hard to see much happening; only the defensive line has underachieved, largely due to unknown issues with Julius Peppers; that coaching spot, manned by Sal Sunseri, could see movement but Sunseri was an original hire in 2002, and a guy who has worked with Fox for years before that.

Undoubtedly, despite a bit of improving play, it looks like the consensus is that Danny Crossman should go; improvement or not, the Panthers aren't even average in most special teams categories, and the move might have to be made. Another past staffer and a player under Fox (University of Pittsburgh), Crossman has sentimental ties to Fox.

Sentiment increases that Marty Hurney shouldn't be safe, crediting a lack of talent overall and veteran acquisition in the 2007 free agent period as a primary part of failure. With that said, a solid draft (on paper still, as of now) helped, and watch for the team to spend to bolster the team's talent and become more competitive. As it looks right now, expect a veteran acquisition at WR, keeping Jordan Gross, a shakeup on the DL, and some work at guard. It seems like offensive tackle is already the expected need for the first round of the draft, as obvious as in 2003. DT could creep in there, depending on (or independently of) the status of Ma'ake Kemoeatu, with the other two DT free agents. Free safety has to enter into the situation, but with this staff, it's hard to say what will happen.
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