Today, I’m posting for Anthony Dunn, who isn’t a writer here (although it would be nice if he were – HINT HINT Anthony!), but who submitted a long and thoughtful piece rebuking the New York-centered Jets’ “writer” Adam Schein’s hit job on Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
I guess some people feel insecure and have to do hit jobs on teams that are FAR better off than the team they write about – again, the New York Jets – to feel good about themselves.
Enjoy the following slightly tongue-in-cheek opinion piece below, keeping in mind that Adam Schein’s “team” is best known in 2012 for “The Butt Fumble.”
…..article by Anthony Dunn: caution, it is rather long. Enjoy!
Adam Schein’s Cicada Call
Is there a worst time of the sports year? With April passed, it is dawning on us that baseball season is two months too long. With the 2013 NFL draft passed, we have again seen that the draft prognosticators are about as accurate as local meteorologists. And with rookie mini-camps now underway, we will soon be bombarded with endless stories of veterans who are not team players or poor leaders because they declined optional workouts. The NFL season, strangely, seems at its furthest point away.
Can it get any worse?
Well it certainly can get more annoying. Emerging, along side of the most prolific cicada brood in seventeen years, is an equally loud and maddening group of journalist hacks who know very little about baseball or golf, so they result to making animal noises about the one thing they know even less about–professional football.
Last week, Adam Schein showed the sports world he is one of those hacks, whose journalistic career is going nowhere, with his attempt to pass off animal grunts for a critique of the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton. Reaching the height of his journalistic career as co-host of “Loudmouths,” being dedicated a Facebook tribute page titled “Adam Schein is a Jerk,” and by passing weekly emesis for sports analysis, Schein’s most recent diatribe, “Carolina Panthers going nowhere with Ron Rivera, Cam Newton” shows that he just does not have what it takes to be an elite NFL analyst.
Sure, he graduated from Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, won the John Bayliss Award for Excellence in Radio Journalism in 1998 and 1999, and now has a daily radio show on Sirius, which we all know will be overtaken by internet radio in the near future. This run of the mill resume and desperate attempt to seem relevant by drumming up attention through shock journalism, however, indicates that NFL.com fumbled the ball by keeping Schein around for another season.
Without Tebow to rant about, Schein who covers Jets football and a co-host of NY based “Loudmouths,” turned his bitter attention to Tim’s former Florida teammate, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers last week.
Schein contests that, with Rivera and Cam at the helm, Carolina will be the worst in the NFL . He claims he arrived at this enlightened forecast by observing the past and looking into the future’s “crystal ball.” It does not take reading of tea leaves or chicken bones, however, to realize that Schein chose to pick on a team with a distant fan base from his media outlet and whose recent GM hire, Dave Gettleman, provides some connections to the NY sports world to make a looming deadline or pay his monthly satellite radio bill.
Schein rightfully notes that the young Cam Newton still needs to mature as an offensive leader and in, the harder learned aspect of the NFL, becoming a strong PR representative. Schein observes this in the most caustic manner, however. He claims that the Giant’s shellacking of the Panthers on Monday Night Football, Cam’s untimely turnovers (if there is such a thing as a timely turnover), and the two years of a below .500 winning percentage signal that the writing is on the wall for Rivera and Newton.
He further makes some scant observations about NFC South preseason acquisitions to conclude that the Panthers have the division’s most talentless roster. Interestingly, Schein points to the Revis trade from the Jets to the Bucs and a vague reference to the Falcons 2012 success as the only support for his evaluation of NFC talent. To be fair, he does halfway congratulate Gettleman’s first Panther draft and chock him and Kuechly up as the organization’s only strengths.
This is where Schein shows he views the Panthers and the NFC South only as they relate to the NY sports market. A healthy Revis will certainly pose problems for Panther receivers. It is still not certain that he will be the shutdown corner he was a few years ago after consecutive injury ridden seasons. Cherry picking two familiar NY names does not amount to strong analysis, but rather carpetbagger commentary. Taking a line from Schein himself, “I don’t believe he is an elite, upper-echelon” sports analyst. Schein’s shock journalism and shallow assessment of the NFC South is not enough “to eradicate and/or mask areas of deficiency.”
More specifically, Schein’s thin assessment has gaping holes and overlooks some important elements of the organization’s past prior to the Rivera/Newton era and Gettleman’s arrival. The hardest part in toppling this straw house is choosing where to start.
Schein’s easiest argument to dispose is his treatment of Cam Newton. His claims that RGIII and Andrew Luck have both surpassed Newton, who will never be an “upper-echelon NFL quarterback.” His argument rests on three basic premises.
1. Cam lacks leadership ability and maturity.
2. His play is inconsistent.
3. He has a below .500 winning percentage.
The problem with this critique is not that it is entirely false, but that it is incomplete. Premises 2 & 3 are easily disposed. The Panthers tripled their win total in Cam’s rookie year, and added one more win in his sophomore campaign. Yes, the 2012 Panthers fell below fan expectations. Looking back, most Panther fans, including myself, expected too much. Coupled with a little in game bad luck and key injuries on the offensive line, and playoff hopes turned into the fodder for cicada journalists.
Cam’s rookie year intoxicated fans, bloated expectations, and masked systemic weaknesses on both sides of the ball. For two years, teams ran the ball at will against the Panthers. Support this with a secondary that could never even contemplate playing man defense nor was experienced enough to play zone defense, and you get long exhausting drives that end in fourth quarter debacles.
Schein strangely equates this defensive deficiency to Newton. While he never made this connection directly, nor do I think he would if asked, simply attributing Panther woes to Newton and Rivera alone is an incomplete assessment. If anything, these defensive problems should be attributed to the defensive coordinator, Sean McDermott, and head coach Rivera. Even blaming these two underemphasizes glaring personnel problems of the interior defensive line and secondary.
Panther fans undeniably yearn for the stout defense we had for so many years under John Fox and led by studs, such as Dan Morgan, Will Witherspoon, Julius Peppers, Mike Rucker, and Kris Jenkins. The 2011 & 2012 defense had talent at defensive end and linebacker, but lacked depth that showed late in games. Sometimes it didn’t wait that long. Huge holes in the middle over-extended the linebackers and left the secondary fighting for their lives. This placed immense pressure on the Panther offense, which weighed heavily on the young, always competitive Cam Newton.
Schein does not overlook these defensive weaknesses entirely, but lavishes any and all Panther praise on Gettleman’s recent draft, while still finding a way to dump blame on Newton and Rivera. The good news, however, is that, while the Panther 2013 draft was not flashy enough for the national media buzz, it addressed fundamental defensive weaknesses. Gettleman’s first draft built a core defensive depth that veterans, such as Jon Beason, Charles Johnson, and budding stars Hardy and Kuechly, can lead to a stoutness of past Panther teams.
Schein also inaccurately reduced Panther offensive issues faced over the last five years to Cam’s inconsistent play. I was on the fifth row of the 40 yd line at the 2010 Saints 33-3 Panther pounding. We may have crossed the 50 yard line twice. Carolina’s offensive problems were apparent before the Cam/Rivera era. Before Cam our offense was anemic, and Steve Smith seemed shelved for good.
Protected by an aging and injury prone offensive line, Cam simply had to do too much. While fun to watch, this put all of the pressure on Newton to perform beyond what is reasonable for any successful quarterback in the long-run. Panther fans continued to be baffled by Chudzinski’s refusal to modify his gimmicky run scheme for more traditional sets, which both Williams and Stewart seem to flourish. This scheme impeded the offense from ever establishing an identity and rhythm.
Was it scheme alone that prevented Carolina from running the ball successfully in 2012? No. The offensive line was beyond dinged up and looked to be aging faster than Marty Hurney extended their contracts on his way out the door. Injuries, penalties, and a lack continuity and consistency made Panther fans groan repeatedly “if only Otah would have panned out.”
All in all, both the offense and defense have improved under Rivera’s tenure. We hope to see a greater commitment to the run game, which will take some of the pressure off of Newton to just make it happen on every play. Gettleman worked on the secondary as best as one could hope with some value free agent picks, and the addition of Star will shore up the interior defense.
The real issue:
Schein’s first premise that Newton is immature and lacks leadership ability is his ace in the hole. Cam’s confidence often translates into cockiness, and his painful postgame press conferences often eclipse his electrifying freshman and sophomore NFL campaigns. I will be first to say that it is just downright wrong to see a big, beautiful, black man with freaky athletic ability, whining, sulking, and fighting back tears like a ten year old kid who just struck out to lose a little league game. Perhaps this is why that Play 60 commercial of the little kid trash talking Cam is so funny.
There are limits to this argument, however. Schein overplayed his hand and tipped his bandwagon mentality by catapulting RGIII and Luck to a class beyond Cam’s. Oh how quickly does he forget arguably the greatest rookie year of all time. RGIII and Luck are great talents no doubt. But they haven’t demonstrated anything, nor have they had the chance in just one year, that suggests that they will outclass Newton. Don’t forget – Cam had a lockout-shortened training camp coming in during his rookie season while Luck and RGIII both benefit of a full training camp last season.
Luck looked shaky at times and was blessed with a weak schedule. RGIII looked brilliant at times, but even the Panther’s defense got to him and his knee injury begs questions about his future durability and explosiveness. In supplement, Cam improved significantly last year in reading defensives, looking off defenders, and getting through his receiver progressions. Schein impulsively concludes that Cam has shown he is not a winner, but a showboater.
Playing QB in the NFL takes a strong, confident personality that has the guts to put it all on the line. Cam has that edge. Still we must keep in mind this is a 22 year old kid who has always been the best athlete on field, often still is too. He is maturing. He wears his emotions on his sleeve, which has its pluses and minuses. Either way, I will happily take crying Cam over Jimmy “Can’t Pull the Trigger” Clausen.
Every year a new brood of cicadas emerges. Some are louder and more noticeable than others. This year Brood II, the loudest and most well known of cicada broods, will overrun eastern United States. I can only hope that their loud and annoying song will drown out the equally annoying animal sounds made by shock journalists, such as Adam Schein.