Thank goodness for the internet. It prevents me from paying to subscribe to the local newspapers. I appreciate it more and more all the time especially when I read columns like the one that Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer has written.
I have never made it a habit to take the local reporters to task mostly because the bulk of the local reporters usually play it safe. They don’t want to offend anyone for fear of breaking some unwritten code and because they think everyone in this area of the country will become angry and the buckle of the Bible Belt will hit them unceremoniously in the side of their heads.
This time I have to take Fowler to task because this time he’s written something that just doesn’t add up.
But it’s not like Jerry Richardson grew an entirely new team over at Bank of America Stadium while I spent three weeks in China watching Michael Phelps splash around and Usain Bolt run like Michael Bates used to on kickoff returns for the Panthers. This Panthers squad isn’t that different from the 2007 Panthers squad, which wasn’t that different from the 2006 squad.
No, a new team wasn’t grown while you were in China. It was built over the last few months – or weren’t you paying attention? This team isn’t that different from the 2007 squad, huh? RIGHT!
On offense alone the team has three new starters on the offensive line, a new starting running back, a new starting wide receiver and could even have a change at tight end if Rosario winds up starting over King. That is a minimum of 5 new starters.
On defense there are two new starters on the line and a new starting safety. Add two more to the total.
Hey, Fowler, that’s seven new starters out of 22 and if my math serves me correctly, 31.8% of the starters on this team have been replaced since the end of 2007. That’s not to mention that both Jordan Gross and Travelle Wharton are both starting in new positions this season.
The same team as the 2007 squad? You may want to do a little more fact checking before turning in your articles to your editor. You could always stay in China, instead.
In other words, this 2008 team will ultimately be a disappointment.
It won’t be great. It won’t be awful.
It will be 8-8.
Now that’s not all bad. Eight is considered a lucky number in China – a number that stands for prosperity and promise. Think of it that way, and this whole column might go down a bit easier.
Here’s my reasoning. Something big will go wrong for Carolina – again. I hope it isn’t another injury to quarterback Jake Delhomme. He doesn’t deserve that, because he’s a nice guy and he’s worked relentlessly to get back from missing almost all of 2007.
But something will, and the Panthers will barely miss the NFC playoffs.
Something will go wrong, huh? How do you know this? Besides, doesn’t something go wrong with every team each season? Isn’t there always an injury to deal with, a player with a bad attitude or even a coach who can’t seem to cut it? Every team deals with something but to to suggest that another major injury will occur, well, that’s just borrowing trouble if you ask me.
Either the running game or the defense or both won’t be nearly as good as it looked in that 47-3 preseason mauling of Washington. Steve Smith might unleash that volcanic temper again once he gets back from his two-game suspension for breaking the nose of teammate Ken Lucas. John Fox might follow his ultra-conservative bent so fully that the Panthers lose a couple just because they are too scared to win them.
You throw out several unrelated thoughts at once in the same paragraph here. (Something my instructors taught me not to do in compostion but I digress.) I’ll take each of them one at a time.
That game versus Washington may have been a mirage, sure. Something was wrong with the Redskins that night or maybe it was just the preseason and they didn’t care. The problem is that it was still starters versus starters and one team looked great and the other looked horrible. Call it what you want but somebody got their backside spanked. Maybe that result would have been different had it been the regular season. Something like, oh I don’t know, 24-0?
Steve Smith hasn’t learned his lesson? Not yet? How well do you know him? Did he tell you he was going to punch someone else? Should he consider punching a reporter next time?
John Fox is a conservative coach but he’s won 56 more NFL games that you and me combined. And he’s appeared as a head coach in the Super Bowl. He might be conservative but that’s not all bad. Sure, I’d like to see him loosen up a little but this has been a running team for quite a while now – not a pass-happy team like the Patriots were last year. He uses the personnel he has.
The bottom line is this: The Panthers just aren’t going to be good enough to be better than average this season.
Do I have an argument for this thought? Not really. None of us know for certain whether or not this team will be better than average. But you should look at their schedule again. A lot of the games they will play this season should be relatively easy wins. I’m predicting at least two more wins for them than you are.
Speaking of average – I’ll be glad to wager you that the Panthers will be no more average than your columns. I say if I’m right then you should let me take your place for a week. Deal?