Thursday, August 9, 2012
Random NFL thoughts:
As info pours in from training camps, it’s hard to make too much of it relevant, but I have a few to say anyway:
*Looks like Peter King is skipping Panthers camp this year. There was an unpublished, to King’s credit, snub from Cam Newton when King showed up last year (Roger Goodell was there as well, if I remember correctly). King could’ve made that a big deal, and didn’t, which is great. At the time, Newton wasn’t established, and a ‘character concern’ type gripe would’ve killed off some momentum he was gaining. But, King was also fairly upset by it. And, since apparently this team is one player, now I’m going to give King a little grief for not showing up – it’s fairly classless, especially when it’s right on his way. You can’t say much positive about Spartanburg, but if it’s anything, it’s on the way between Atlanta and Washington, directly in his waddling path. I imagine I can deal with not hearing about whether or not he approves of the local coffee or beer, or hearing about his travels. Or what the Red Sox did while he was in Spartanburg.
It’s hard to say. I regularly read King, and then I immediately follow it up with Kissing Suzy Kolber’s teardown of everything he stands for. Read both, FWIW, if you can.
*NFL traditions – I’m all for using the best system for your players, and your coaches – you have to have a good fit there.
I like the philosophies of each, but it’s weird, for instance, that the 49ers have a Coryell system under Harbaugh, and the Raiders are running a West Coast. I know Oakland had bouts of WCO with Shanahan and Gruden, but even then they were longball teams. The Raiders are putting a lot of work into doing what’s best, but it’s just weird without Al Davis’ imprint on the team for the first time in almost a half century. For them not to be a deep passing Coryell/cover 1 and man defense system is weird, to me. It would be weird for the Steelers to not be 3-4. It would be weird for Cleveland not to be awful. I hate to be sentimental, but if and when Norv Turner is mercifully killed off in San Diego, it would be weird for them not to be a Coryell team just as it would for Dallas. It’s that continuity that is interesting, and too many owners/GMs tend to overcompensate when changing regimes. Old guy was defensive? New guy is offensive! Old guy was offensive and ran the WCO? Let’s get some former Pittsburgh goober and run the ball!
I can’t caution that enough – I get the wanting to not stay the course. Scheme success is about personnel, coaching, and execution as much as anything, which are the majority of breakdowns in a needed coaching change, and that inadequate personnel always means turnover, including sometimes at GM. But I do caution too much change; teams that keep on elements of what the prior regime have done can create ongoing success. If the Panthers had hired a 3-4 coach in 2002, no Super Bowl run is likely. To go back to Norv Turner, keeping both systems gave the team years of success (if not, ultimately, the success they wanted). There is a case to be made for legacy teams continuing that legacy, and just working on doing it the right way again.
*Hall of Fame – having started to get through guys who were big when I started having interest in football, I get that Curtis Martin, and Cortez Kennedy, were important to the game. I even get that Kennedy, as a star in a small market, is a part of representing something bigger. But I don’t know if either, having seen them, impressed me as that HOF-worthy. Unfortunately, I don’t think either former Panther LB in question is, either. I love Sam Mills, and despite his massive failures, Kevin Greene, but I don’t know either is more than just useful to this team’s history, and the prior history of each.
I don’t know that anyone on roster, past or present, deserves that, either. Cam Newton might, with a title or two, and more longevity than a lot of running QBs have had. Steve Smith, Julius Peppers would’ve been close, but both will have to achieve in their 30s at a level as high or higher than their best. And I don’t see it happening that way.
And Willie Roaf? I don’t know. Always felt he was over-rated. To me, he was Chris Samuels, who wasn’t found out quite as early to be a fraud. I think modern day metrics would betray him. Somewhat related, I’ll always remember him mugging Mike Rucker, blatantly, in a game (I believe 2001, am not looking it up right now) that I felt like Carolina should’ve won. I’ve had respect for division rivals that definitely earned their way in, but I’m less convinced in this case.