Paws and Claws: Week 14 Carolina Panthers Edition

Good early morning, Panthers fans! I would like to begin this week’s edition of Paws and Claws with a brief apology for being a couple days late in its posting. I am looking forward to resuming a more…normal schedule this week, as finals come to a close, and I head home for an almost month-long respite.

While trying to remember what week of the season we are in during the creation of this edition, I came to the re-realization that our Panthers have notched four wins this season, effectively doubling their win total from a year ago. While to most it may not be much to brag about or be particularly proud of, I am still impressed with this team’s turn-around of its playbook as it comes closer to realizing its potential and finding its identity with every passing week.

More after the jump…

This week I was looking at the possibility of bringing to the table of claws, the Panthers’ current uniform scheme, and really ripping into it…well, perhaps ripping into it is a bit on the extreme side, but let’s be honest — With a few more wins to go along with the season, wouldn’t it be nice to see something a little different at the onset of the 2012 season?

While nothing is set in stone as of yet, Nike will be the official provider of uniforms for the NFL beginning in 2012, and it’s rumored that the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers will be the first two teams to don the hip new threads. So a new look for a new era could very well be in store for next season.

Alas, I will leave the details and everything else to your imagination with the embedded link. I’m not going to drone on about what others might term a frivolous fancy, such as a uniform design.

This week I’m going with a combination of  claws and paws. And it’s not with any particular player, coach, or even the front office…No, yes — it is a beef with the front office; more specifically general manager. And it may stem to owner Jerry Richardson, but I’ll just say GM for the heck of it.

While reading a piece on NFL.com, I have to applaud the vocalization of quarterback Cam Newton and receiver Steve Smith. The opening line couldn’t be more truthful: “Nice guys don’t win Super Bowls.” Allow that to soak in for a moment.

When your best is off the field (and) you ain’t doing very good on the field — your primary job — I think we need less guys that are worried about outside and need to start taking care of work inside. I’m no more the minority, the passionate guy, the loose cannon. They’re getting a lot of guys in here that are no-nonsense, punch-you-in-the-mouth kind of guys. –Panthers wide receiver, Steve Smith

Or as I term them, “choir boys.” Cam Newton initiated this criticism about the team, because he wants the Panthers to get on his level.

What happens when you take a lion out of the safari and try to take him to your place of residence and make him a house pet? … It ain’t going to happen –Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton

Why should he have to play down to what the team has, or is implementing? Granted, it’s only the first season with a new head coach, and a rookie quarterback who may or may not need to prove himself more still, but I have to agree. This offseason, it’s time for management to assemble a more aggressive team; specifically on the defensive side of the ball.

Offensively, I pretty much like where things are going. We are finally seeing second-year receiver Brandon LaFell come into his own; running back (other than playing time) is a non-issue, offensive line could perhaps use a little touch-up, and tight end is fairly solid — for lack of a more accurate phrase.

Defense has been lacking…a lot. I haven’t looked at the statistics on the defense, but just from watching games when I can, and reading I know that the Panthers’ defense is one of the league’s worst. Yes, injuries factor into the equation, and are likely a larger percentage of the problem than a lack of talent or experience.

In the end however, without naming names, there are those who have proven to be injury-prone and are more of a risk to keep around, just because from a publicity standpoint they say the right things and keep the team in favor with the media. While keeping a positive image is a good thing, staying healthy in order to keep a certain level of production for the team to succeed is equally as importnat, if not more important because after all, the main reason to be on a team is to contribute to its success. Add to that, some experiment players are not what general manager Marty Hurney had initially envisioned, and others have been unable to show semblance of having “it,” much less any promise that they even know what “it” is.

In short, I am in agreement with Newton and Smith. It’s time for the rest of the team to play to their level or potential. It’s time for management to curb the experimental draft picks, and draft needs over value, or “best player available” to a position not in need. And please, please, please…Become a serious player in free agency, where hopefully in 2012, we’ll see signings that are more aggressive than a placekicker who has a knack for missing chip-shots.

Follow Eric on Twitter @PSU_EQ.

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Tags: Cam Newton Steve Smith

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