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Friday, October 26, 2012

Lombardi, Locals Add Perspective on Hurney

Marty Hurney's being talked about more than at really any point while he was GM. 

The Charlotte Observer paints a picture of Jerry Richardson sitting Hurney down and asking him two questions:
Why are we 1-5, and what are we going to do about it?

Hurney said he didn't have good answers for either, and that he was fired soon after.   It's hard to say if the answer was tied to whether Hurney was going to be let go, only Jerry Richardson knows that. 

That's one piece of the puzzle.'s Michael Lombardi suggests there was another: 

Speaking of Carolina, after talking to sources inside the Panthers building, it appears head coach Ron Rivera must rapidly turn this season around to save his job for 2013. I'm told owner Jerry Richardson wanted former GM Marty Hurney to make some moves, and when Hurney was reluctant, it cost him his own job. Hurney saved a few people with his actions, but if the Panthers don't start winning, there will be no one left to save the coaching staff.

So I wonder what the want was?  

JR demanded something that Hurney didn't do.  But it wasn't done.   Unless it was one of the recent roster moves (I doubt highly JR had a want to put Chris Gamble or Jon Beason on IR, I doubt he wanted Frank Kearse cut; I doubt he was dying to bring on DT Nate Chandler or the two waiver scrubs that took the place of Pro Bowl caliber defenders).  

If it was Rivera's own head, that may have been a tough sell.  Richardson would have lost both his football men in hours, which starts to make the season a larger disaster.  Still possible, but with Hurney gone, it more or less makes all of this inevitable anyway, if not immediate.

 If it was dropping the OC, Richardson could've gone to Rivera and demanded it - there have been some minor changes in the running game, which hopefully means more from center; was that a compromise to save Rob Chudzinski, or was that just a natural move that needed to happen? 

Was it Sean McDermott?  That's harder to say; Rivera can put the defense on himself, and it's played better the last few weeks regardless. 

But, Richardson apparently demanded changes, and no one else has really gone.  The only changes were to the run game, still to be seen honestly.  So did Richardson get what he wanted?

Gamble, Beason To IR

Chris Gamble has been put on injured reserve.  Having missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, it was apparently determined that he have surgery now and get ready for the 2013 season, anticipating that the shoulder wasn't going to get better without surgery.   Gamble, the team’s best DB, had (per a QB rating in the 60s and had a league leading yards per route run of 0.45.
Beason, a team captain, had looked solid coming off Achilles surgery from 2011, before starting to show wear and tear, and having both a shoulder (left, labrum tear) and knee (right,cartilage cleanup) issue that started affecting play on a high level.  At current, it’s hard to say that either issue would cause longterm issues. 
It could be said that the season would give Beason time to rest the Achilles injury, and time to more properly rehab the other injuries.  It does cast doubt, however, to overall durability – fairly or unfairly – in that he has played a total of 6 games in two seasons.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mourning or Celebrating?

In the Marty Hurney aftermath, it’s hard to know how to react.  For many, it’s much easier – some have wanted this move, essentially, since the start.  For me, it’s much more complicated.

First, it’s ridiculously hard to see the team struggle.  I don’t know that I ever felt like Marty was the best man for the job, but there was always a want to see success, no matter what.  I felt he got hung on him a stigma of having been a sportswriter – way back in the 70s, and having been a football man ever since, I felt like that was a silly thing to hang on him.  That’s like calling me immature because I was, for an entire year, a six year old.  Hurney gave all he could – and at times, it worked.  Very well.  Essentially being the only thing holding things together in 2001, he brought in the pieces that went to the Super Bowl, and that came a couple too many RB injuries away from a second.

The trade downs were fantastic – only in my brightest dreams would I imagine that the team could build fresh with two new Pro Bowlers off one trade (2007).  But then the trades got costly – moving up for diminishing returns.  I remain somewhat in denial that the team would’ve actually shopped what became the 2011 #1 overall to move up for Jimmy Clausen.

The end of 2008 was a lot closer to the end than anyone realized.  John Fox had struggled through 2006-2007, and came back very strong with 2008; already paid well, he started making contract demands which set about various issues – the exodus of coaches at the end of 2008, a treading of water in 2009 that left the team intact but not improving, and the housecleaning that unfortunately took two years in 2010 and 2011.  The CBA had a major part in that too – unfortunately, the two issues came together for a perfect storm of bad football from there.

As Fox burned bridges because of contract, and he and Jerry Richardson played a game of chicken with one of the more valuable franchises in the NFL, Hurney did the team thing.  He went without a contract, he worked with what he could.  No one knew going into 2010 the problems that were there, or how much of it was his.  It bought him a couple extra years, but the end result is that things had just continued to get worse.

So I won’t miss the weird trade-ups for guys that are hit or miss.  Though the 2011 signings were all under the duress of a weird CBA imposed free agency, I won’t miss the part where someone undeserving like Charles Godfrey is allowed to stay for $5 million a year.   I can deal with making Jon Beason one of the highest paid LBs in the league.  He deserved that at the time, and I anticipate by next year he’ll be that guy again.  I can understand why Charles Johnson was a must-keep, I’d have done that.   And, there were more times where what I wanted would’ve left the team in much worse shape than what we did – when I wanted to draft outright busts like Derrick Harvey or Chris Williams.    But, the gap on that closed on Hurney the last few years, and when 2012 turned from a hopeful season to a disaster within a few games, Jerry Richardson found it time to move on.

I don’t know about the timing.  I don’t know if I would’ve done this now.  But I can’t blame JR for it, and the firing itself was apparently going to happen.
And, inevitably, I’ll be writing similar “well wishes, sorry it didn’t work out” words for the coaching staff soon, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Few Moves To Turn it Around

Coming out of the bye week, Dallas loss, and Hurney firing, here’s a few things I feel like Carolina must do to turn things around:

*Get Cam Comfortable – it’s an expanded offense, and a more heavy one with all the option runs.  While they make logical sense, Carolina’s offense runs through Newton more than most quarterbacks, whose 40-55% of run calls are simply handoffs.

So, it’s time to shake things up, re-use some plays that simply work on his natural strengths without putting the world on his shoulders.   The screen game needs to come back better – and dumpoffs need to be emphasized in more situations.  Rollouts should be used 5 or so times a game to create a better playaction. Not opposed to a sprintout option either, with the right protections, and it opens up the old college sprint draw.

*Secondary Targets – backs shouldn’t be the only one to get those extra looks.  Greg Olsen has been money when called upon, and yet there are portions of entire games where he’s not getting targets.  Brandon LaFell appears to only show up in games where he’s not facing a good corner, so there needs to be more involvement to get him open on drags and crosses to supplement the comebacks and posts that can work well on some days.

*Run it – time to go back to a little more traditional run offense at times.  Line up under center, pound the ball.   For years, the Panthers could run it for 4-5 yards/carry with nothing else to have the defense focus on – so suddenly with all these weapons on offense, running isn’t enough of a concern?   Running from center also opens up more playaction, which combined with the rollouts, provides more misdirection.

*Time to resolve the Beason/Kuechly thing, I guess. I still feel that Beason isn’t going to do any better in space, and that Kuechly’s in a tight spot – his best work is in space, which should be fine at WLB, but then there’s Thomas Davis (who pulled a full load with Beason gone).  Kuechly needs to take the spot next to Davis in nickel, and Beason needs to be off the field more, for now.

*rotate DBs – I know that DBs are the one spot where you always keep your starters in, but the end result is that Josh Norman and Haruki Nakamura can still use some rotation.  Nakamura was serviceable against Seattle, but Martin played, and did well – there’s room for both.  Norman bounced back a bit as well, but I liked the rotation of he and Captain Munnerlyn earlier in the season.  Having each rest isn’t a terrible idea, and re-introducing that taste of competition for Munnerlyn and Martin could boost overall play.

*More 3-4 – I know it’s not the quick fix way of doing things, but the end result is that I like what this front provides.  With Frank Alexander providing some pressure lately, it allows both Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson to work inside, where both have some power.  It adds a lot of size, and provides for some versatility to move around Beason/Kuechly and sub in any other LB as needed.   I’m also not opposed to being even larger with Thomas Keiser outside, or moving Johnson back out to OLB for a few snaps and putting Dwan Edwards inside him at end.

Special Teams:
*Time to reintroduce Joe Adams to the punt return team.  Let’s hold off on anything else, but Adams needs to be out there doing something.
*Have to let Justin Medlock get a few more FGs in.  I don’t know that any kicker has been used less, even if unintentionally.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Potential Executives

Here are some potential NFL executives as of 2012, now that the Panther sare on the look:

A Prelude:

To start, it's worth cautioning against the idea of wanting to grab from amongst two personnel departments: The Pats and Ravens.  New England's pro personnel department has major flaws - for every even-keeled but unremarkable Thomas Dimitroff, there appear to be a lot more Scott Piolis out there (Pioli's team's dysfunction runs quite deep as of reports coming out of the Chiefs last year).

The Ravens' staff, led by Ozzie Newsome, is fantastic and has run along different coaching philosophies, not missing a beat.  But Eric DeCosta isn't on the list for various reasons - he's turned down a couple teams already, and he's an heir apparent there; but as well, everyone that's left the Ravens organization has been a disaster.  George Kokinis left for the Browns and didn't make it a year before returning to the Ravens in shame.

In-House Options

There's no doubting that Carolina is a loyal organization - and that Marty Hurney benefitted from that doubly.  He got his job as a promotion from within, something that Carolina enjoys; he kept his job this long primarily out of loyalty and teamwork with all entities.  Assuming Jerry Richardson remains in the picture due to any health concerns, that's not likely to change.  Someone who knows the Carolina way, and that already knows Richardson and team President Danny Morrison, has value.  So let's start there:

*Don Gregory - College Scouting Director
Gregory has been with the team in this role since 2006 - and was a part of a very prolific set of drafts in 2006-08.  Carolina's his first title upgrade, having been a scout for the Chiefs for the five years prior, and wth the XFL for a year before that, and was a scout for the Chargers 95-99.

*Rob Rogers - Director of Team Administration
An intriguing in-house candidate because Rodgers has only been a Panther - a Harvard grad, I can't find when Rodgers came in, but he started as an intern and quickly moved up to a contract negotiator, eventually earning his current title.  That's a similar path to how Hurney himself moved up, but Rogers is younger and brighter.  There's no real information on the Panthers using Sabermetrics/advanced statistics, but if it does happen in the building, it'd be Rogers who would discern that information as well.

*Tony Softli - the former college scouting director with Carolina through 2005 was VP - Personnel with the Rams (06-09).  When with Carolina, Softli was an outspoken assistant, and his reach also went toward free agency in the team's most prolific FA signing periods since Bill Polian.  Softli is currently a radio analyst in St. Louis, and would be a dark horse candidate, but does have internal ties.

*Brandon Beane - Director of Football Operations
With the team since 1998, the UNCW grad has moved up and is apparently the team's capologist.  Currently handing the job, but has no real scouting experience.

Outside Options

*John Dorsey, Directer of Football Operations, Packers:
Dorsey has been with the Packers for 22 years, not a short amount of time; he recently received the upgraded status from being the head of college scouting.  Dorsey may not be an ideal candidate to jump ship because of loyalty, but he's got nowhere to go with Ted Thompson rooted fairly deeply as GM.  He's a fantastic candidate from a fine organization, and took his rightful place as #2 in the org after one of my favorite up and coming GM candidates went to Oakland - Reggie McKenzie.

*Marc Ross, Director of College Scouting, Giants:
Ross, 38 and a Princeton grad, worked his way to become a director of college scouting with the Eagles in 2000; after a few years as a national scout with the Bills he got a second shot with the Giants, where he's thriving.  GM Jerry Reese is somewhat the model of a younger GM, and Ross fits in the mold of someone you'd want to grab if you're looking to emulate Reese.

*Lake Dawson, Vice President of Football Operations, Titans:
Dawson, 40, is a former NFL WR, was director of pro personnel 2007-2010 and has been with the Titans since 2001.  Now he's essentially assistant GM under Ruston Webster, scouting all facets of football and being involved in the day to day operation of the team.


General Manager Marty Hurney was relieved of duties today. The Panthers notified media and fans around 9:30 Monday, after a 19-14 loss to Dallas.

Hurney presided over the most prolific period in Panthers football, including three runs to the playoffs in 2003, 2005, 2008.  However, that January 2009 home playoff game resulted in a blowout loss, and that was the last time Carolina was over .500 – including a league worst 9 wins over 2010-current.  The team had, as of this offseason, looked like it was on the way up – certainly under Ryan Kalil’s own predictions, but improving nonetheless.  And right now it’s clear that’s not the case.   I wouldn’t have fired Hurney at this point, but better now than in the middle of the offseason when draft, free agency, and coaching search all coincide.

Hurney was one of the league's longest tenured GMs, and had worked without a contract - something that currently might not work out that well for him monetarily.  Carolina has identified Brandon Beane as the administrator who would take over some of the duties, though the rest generally will run as it had with everyone in their roles.

It’s difficult to see how Ron Rivera and staff will make it past the year, as well.  Being 1-5 so far is a difficult stretch, and there are still three strong division foes and a tough remaining schedule overall to deal with.  Rivera, 6-10 last year, is unlikely to improve upon that this year, and is likely out.  It’s unlike the team to do so, but if things do become a struggle, the team might look at replacing Rivera as head coach mid-season to give Rob Chudzinski a shot at the job early – though he himself has underperformed this year.

It’s a shame that seems inevitable.  I have issues with the on-field performance but from a design standpoint, a Coryell offense and a pro multiple defense is essentially an ideal way to do things, in my own opinion.  I do hope that whatever happens, things don’t stray too far from where they are schematically, and are simply better coached from here on.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Holmgren Out In Cleveland

Mike Holmgren, former championship head coach, is out as Browns President.

So why might this be relevant to Carolina?

In 1999, Jerry Richardson had a big checkbook in hand for coaching – and had his eye on Holmgren.  It’s rare a Super Bowl winning head coach becomes available, and Holmgren was – wanting GM control.  Seattle wrote a quick check to make it happen, though success didn’t come until he relinquished the GM controls.  Richardson moved quickly to plan B (George Seifert, who quickly built an offensive staff to his liking, but struggled with losing out on bids like Marvin Lewis for DC, and kept GM control himself without much under him in the front office).  So maybe the ideal of claiming something that was once out of reach would be ideal for Richardson.  Maybe not.

It would have to come in under the ideal of Marty Hurney being gone – and it’s too early to really discuss that.  But it’s interesting that Holmgren is available, Bill Parcells style, and it’d be interesting to see whether Carolina would have any interest in a GM role for Holmgren.  I don’t know that I’d personally suggest it at this point, since Holmgren is a bit of a meddler and it’s my opinion he and Richardson would clash to a point – and that the sea change that would come of a hire like this would be detrimental to the long term growth of the team.  Holmgren hires West Coast Offense guys – and while the WCO is a sound philosophy, I don’t think it fits this team’s makeup.

As well, the constant change under the Browns, now and since it’s re-introduction a poor franchise, has been detrimental.  Is Brandon Weeden the right guy?  Not sure.  Should Colt McCoy have been given a longer chance?  Maybe, maybe not.  But now McCoy’s situation is likely to become Weeden’s.  Drafted by a front office and head coach that doesn’t reside in the building anymore, having been judged by play as a rookie and maybe a 2nd year, expected to produce whether it was logical or not.   Not the biggest fan of either QB, really, but both have been mismanaged and their situations bungled.   Was Holmgren going to turn everything around in this short of time?  Maybe not, but it’s not the best situation right now.  There’s not a lot of positivity in what Holmgren has done in Cleveland, so I wouldn’t expect hope in any suggestion of him in Carolina.

I’m certain, for his own accord, Holmgren is unhappy that he perennially had the 49ers job(s) on his mind, and now available himself, the 49ers are contenders, with a young head coach/GM combo that should last a good while at this rate.  I honestly don’t know that Holmgren would be interested here, or anywhere else.   He may be a steadying force somewhere – assuming he doesn’t hire too many cronies – if he was able to put a good, young GM candidate under him, and hire an up and coming head coach at just the right time, he could leave a franchise on the way up as he inevitably heads on the way out.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Juan Castillo Fired

Eagles DC Juan Castillo was let go this week, in a surprising move – almost as surprising as hiring him in the first place.

Castillo, who was an Eagles staffer alongside Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and coordinator Sean McDermott, coached nothing but offense in the pros until being elevated to replace McDermott as DC in 2011.    It was an odd pairing – an OL coach as DC – that was explained by his conversations with the defensive coaches over the years – no doubt, both with patriarch Jim Johnson, and guys like Rivera/McDermott and Steve Spagnuolo.

It also didn’t work, and while the massively talented Eagles’ D did put together a lot of big plays, it also gave them up. I don’t think it was a matter of competence, but simply experience.  You don’t become head of an NFL defense without experience with an NFL defense.

So to tie things back to Carolina, we know that Andy Reid and Rivera had discussions about Carolina taking on McDermott – a soft landing, so to speak.  We know that Rivera is outspoken, and has ties to Castillo.

That leaves a couple of things there –
*one, I wonder if Castillo would be interested in helping out here through the rest of the season, a major ‘get’ for the Carolina staff despite its full complement of offensive coaches.
*two, I wonder if recommendations from former Eagles staffers helped get Castillo his job.  Consider that Reid pays little attention to defense – and his stability over time came from having Johnson running the defense.  He relies on opinions to make choices for defense.   I’m willing to bet that Castillo’s hire came from recommendations – and I doubt any came from a louder voice than Rivera’s, having known Reid since ’99 and advocating for his compatriot.

Also, feels like Dick Jauron was on staff for just such a purpose – to take on the defense if the Eagles wanted McDermott to move on – and it didn’t end up working out that way.  So, Reid shames yet another defensive coach, this time mid-season, to save himself, and fair enough.  But make a good hire this time.

It also kinda opens the ideal of firing coaches for the year – and way early this year, too.  I’m never a proponent of mid-season fires, but it’s week seven.  There are ten to go even for bad teams.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

v/s Seattle, Pregame

The crafty Pete Carroll and the almost eternally lucky Seahawks come in for the 4:05 5th week game at Carolina.

Carolina can't buy a break lately - coming off a heartbreaking last second loss to Atlanta on the road, and prior to that getting humiliated at home against the defending champs, now taking on a second-level traveling team at home that should be a win, but potentially without two of its best defenders.

Neither Chris Gamble nor Jon Beason practiced this week, and while the team has spent time on backing Beason, they just don't have much for Gamble's caliber of cornerback.

While rookie Josh Norman has bounced back from an awful Giants game, he and Captain Munnerlyn aren't enough.  Josh Thomas remains, having been last year's nickel, but that's not something to brag about.  Starters Golden Tate and Sidney Rice are solid downfield receivers without many holes to their game - but luckily 3rd WR Braylon Edwards isn't as big a deal anymore.

The Seahawks do, however, use both TEs- Zach Miller and Anthony McCoy.  Most know that Miller has size, but for a 2nd TE that plays a lot of receiving snaps, McCoy is more a mirror than an H-back at 6'5, 260. They have a lot of size on the field at all times, which can be an issue for a smaller back seven.

But moreso, it's not the passing game that's the big issue, or Carolina's issues on 3rd down, it's getting to 3rd down - the Seahawks are 32nd in passing behind rookie Russell Wilson.

So being the 26th best rush defense against the Seahawks' 6th overall rushing attack is certainly the bigger issue. Marshawn Lynch means that whatever happens to replace the likely missing Beason (who would, at least, get a solid 2 week stretch to help heal, with the bye week) has to be rock solid, and it may mean less playing time for Dwan Edwards, a liability against the run at times.  There likely won't be as much reason to drop ends inside, either.   Seattle is also 32nd in attempts, and the very small Wilson is the team's second leading rusher.  Wilson does go down, though - the Seahawks do have 8 sacks registered against them.

Seattle's defense starts up front, where they invested a very high pick on situational rusher Bruce Irvin to bookend Chris Clemons.  The 250 lb Clemons had back to back 11 sack seasons, and already has 5 this year; Irvin has 2.5, and tackle Brandon Mebane has 2.  The Seahawks use massive DT Red Bryant situationally outside at times, using the old Ravens trick of using a big man to set the edge in exchange for very little pass rush in base.  Measuring that will be big for Carolina, and may have to manipulate that with more 2 TE looks to keep Bryant on the field on earlier downs (Carolina is often indiscriminant about using 1st, 2nd down looks that would bring out nickel defenders).   A lack of predictability would be massive, and the Packers found that not having much rush meant unleashing a bunch of small, fast ends on Aaron Rodgers.

The right side battle of Bryant and Carolina RT Byron Bell should be a pretty big run battle.  With Irvin in, and moreso for Clemons who plays most snaps, the option issues will be more similar to the Giants', where a very fast to crash DE can be disruptive at times, but Carolina may still be able to use it to their advantage - a bootleg veer option type play, where instead of running it after a fake handoff, Newton reverses to a pass/run option on the crashing end.

For traditional rushing plays, there's no way Irvin has any real shot at setting the edge against Bell, but Mebane and company do shut it down a good bit - the Seahawks aren't slouches at the run - 2nd in the NFL.  It's a big week for Newton has the passing offense - that may require some tricks to get around the Seahawks' fantastic pursuit.

Their weaknesses?  So far, shutting down backs in the passing game, and the 3rd WR.  They also had massive problems on 3rd down against the Rams last week, letting them have 82 yards on 3rd down.  So, it seems that to a point you would have to spread the Seahawks - potentially 4 wide with some motion out of formation - and team that with quick reads before the rush can affect things.  Getting some yards early in downs can't hurt either, and facing more 3rd and shorts with Carolina's combo of run threats would render a lot of the Seahawk rush ineffective.  Contrarily, getting behind early in downs will make 3rd down hellish.

Carolina's offense tends to be better in games without any turnovers - an obvious but still blatant issue that Cam Newton isn't doing a lot of coming from behind late in games - and the Seahawks don't force many.  Field position against a good running and defense team is critical, so Carolina may measure itself for a big play or two on 2nd down, being willing to punt and hope for the best.  The best way to handle Seattle would be to put on long, sustained drives - which would require more ability running the ball than they've shown most of this year, and a lot more dumpoffs (which hasn't happened much this year, either).

Carolina has to dig deep in this one.  Seattle has its obvious strengths and weaknesses, coming across the nation in what would normally be a tough trip.  Carolina also has to dig deep to replace two of its bigger leaders and producers defensively, which I'm not sure is likely.  This is a winnable game, if the right Carolina team shows, but how they handle those absences might be the biggest story.

Marty Hurney Has No Contract

I thought it was interesting to hear Marty Hurney say on Charlotte radio that he has no contract.  The Tom Sorenson rumor – a “lifetime contract”, a rumor that probably stemmed from the Dom Capers 1997 contract – isn’t true, per Hurney himself.

It sheds some light on that relationship – right or wrong, trust.  It also sheds some light on the turmoil that’s happened over the last five seasons, including with John Fox.  With the CBA issues likely on Jerry Richardson’s mind even that early, John Fox was on the hot seat in 2007.  2008 came with much success – and followed with a playoff collapse that the team has not recovered from.  Following that, the team continued to lock in key starters longterm, and started to try with Julius Peppers fairly hard – but not with Fox, who was pushing to be paid as one of the top coaches in the league.  It’s worth noting that after 08 is when Fox told many of his out-of-contract assistants to find work elsewhere, which many did. Stubbornness on both sides forced Fox, who may have been offered the ability to leave after 2009, to earn $6.5 million in 2010 to coach the team to two wins.

Fox’s insistence on a new, very highly paid contract helped cause that rift between he and the rest of the organization.  Chances are, in hindsight it would’ve been smarter to cut ties after 2009 – which, in Fox fashion, finished strong, but with so much roster turnover, it was difficult to carry any of that over (strong finishes in 2002, 2004, 2007 had netted playoff berths).  With that rift, came the separation of Hurney from Fox, and obviously, Hurney survived 2010 to hire Ron Rivera and draft Cam Newton.

Hurney did also shed off any concerns as to whether he’s Richardson’s puppet – and while not going into specifics, firmly planted the ideal that he’s 100% responsible for everything that happens.  I do still believe that they’re in accord on all moves, including what happened in free agency in 2011, in their mutual plans – going as far as to ask Richardson about the ability to pull a trade for TE Greg Olsen.

So what does it all mean?

It depends on your perspective.  Hurney admitting he’s “on the hot seat” came with the caveat that he’s the one “putting on the heat.”  So it’s hard to say if change is, in fact, inevitable long term or what it would mean.  It raises a level of possibility that something could change, one way or another.  But, for right now, there’s a season to be played, and these decisions don’t get made this time of year.  I have some thoughts in mind – that don’t include the one obvious but unattainable (Eric Decosta, who I honestly don’t even like as much as most), but that won’t be mentioned since it’s irrelevant on October 4 to worry about.   And to that end, I’m not 100% convinced it wouldn’t come from within..

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

V/S ATL - Aftermath

There are no moral victories.  Carolina coming up short based on a last-second kick to Atlanta is a lot better than it could’ve been, but as a team, it wasn’t good enough to win.  Quickly, to start off with, there were a couple pivotal moments in the game that unfortunately all came in a row:

*Cam Newton’s third down dive for a would-be first down: it’s unfortunate he fumbled, on what clearly would’ve been a first down.   That happens diving like that, but it’s not Newton’s fault.   I was interested in seeing how the spot would settle things up, but in one of the rare times it was reversed that I’ve seen, it cost Carolina a yard.

*Not going for it on 4th and 1: I could see it if the spot had stayed at the 3 inch barrier, but from a yard out, it’s tougher.  I really do believe that the right call was to burn the clock, give the punter room, and kick.  It worked – downed at the 1 is ideal.

*The Roddy White catch:
It’s not that big a surprise that a Pro Bowl level, 6’4 receiver, the same player that led the league in targets last year, came down with a football that was a jump ball.
Before things get too far into the blame game, consider that.  As well, various people want to blame Sean McDermott (who had an up and down game, but consider his call allowed Nakamura to double White, and to get position on White) or Nakamura (who got that position, and mistimed his leap by a half-second). Nakamura is 5’10, gives up 6 inches to White, and jumped a little too early. That’s essentially all that happened.

Honestly, I believe the Falcons were hoping for a PI call there.  That’s what they were after, and Carolina played it so that didn’t happen.  They got their luck, and that’s the gist of it.

Tackling was a major enough issue to give Atlanta a full score with Michael Turner taking on his first career receiving touchdown, with Carolina defenders just bouncing off him on a middle screen.   Should be ashamed of that effort, honestly.

Loved the ability of the defensive line.  Tyson Clabo isn’t a terrible tackle, and that line overall had given up only 4 sacks all season.  Charles Johnson got his 3.5, Greg Hardy got one – Frank Alexander got another one.  Hardy and Johnson had been working on a ton of near-misses over the last few weeks, so it was nice to see it finished