Oct 7, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith (89) lines up during the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Case for Steve Smith

Steve Smith has always been a favorite player of mine. Growing up in the hay-day of the Panthers, when we made it to the two NFC Championships and the Super Bowl, he was one of three players who gave me the only reason to watch football, him, John Kasey, and Mike Rucker. But his age is definitely showing, and though his best days are behind him he definitely shows there is still a little “Cardiac Cat” left in him. He continues to produces league high numbers at the geriatric age of 34, making him the oldest Panther on the team. But like I said earlier, his best days are behind him and though he will remain the Panthers number one receiver on the roster for the foreseeable future his time with the team is waning.

January 1, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith (89) makes a catch on the sidelines against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

For this season and the next I strongly believe that Steve Smith will remain with the Panthers, but after that his future is up in the air, or at least it is to me. Because of his age, the team needs to make him a figure-head of leadership and wisdom. Like Domenik Hixon and Chase Blackburn, I see Smith as a player here for experience in combat, so to speak, and not because of skill alone.

Now Smith is an interesting case. To me his main purpose is to show players like LaFell, Ginn, Lamont, and every young receiver on the roster what it means to be a productive member of the team and play-off caliber player. The reason his case is interesting is because he is still one of the better receivers in the league at his age. The Panthers are relying on him to produce at a high level for yet another year; he is quite possibly the way the Panthers passing game can succeed.

I say that with conviction, it is not a half willed statement. The Panthers are building for a stronger receiving core, just slowly. They continue to bank on Steve Smith to carry the brunt of the passing games success. The Panthers do not have a high-caliber receiving unit, so they continue to rely on Smith to draw more defenders so players like LaFell and Olsen can find gaps in the secondary. It is a tried and true strategy that is flawless. If they leave Smith uncovered, he gets open and breaks for a big gain, but if they pressure him too much, others find gaps and produce for themselves. The best example of this would have to be Armanti Edwards’s huge 80+ yard catch against the Redskins. Smith is the key to all of this and he most certainly is the original copy.


Dec 22, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith (89) throws the ball into the crowd after a touchdown catch in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

His time with the Panthers is almost up, but his insurmountable importance to the team cannot be understated. He will be one of the biggest, if not the biggest reason for the Panthers possible successes this year, and I commend him for his service to the Panthers organization. He has been an institution for the team, a huge personality that the team can rally around, and before I end this piece I’d like to state my thoughts for his future after the team. He will enter the Panthers Hall of Honor, no doubt in my mind. He has brought national attention to the team in the past and still does with his high-caliber of play. He should be considered for a spot in the National Hall of Fame, he would have shined if he was on a team with a Peyton Manning type player and not an upper middle class guy like Jake Delhomme.

Steve Smith is a great player and honestly I can’t wait until the Panthers season this year. He certainly will shine again with the coming year and I can’t stress enough how ecstatic I am for the Panthers this year. We have assembled a great team and finally I can say the Panthers have a great shot at the title without feeling bad about lying.

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  • ahrcshaw

    Nice complement to Smitty, he deserves all the prase he gets. I take excepton to one comment you made and that is ” he could have been more successful on a team with a Peyton Manning type player and not an upper middle class guy like Jake Delhomme”. Steve may have received more acolades on another team, but Peyton Manning would not have servered him better then Jake. Coaching has as much to do about a players success as the skills of the Player has.

    Payton Manning had a coach that utilized his skills, coach Fox had a system in which a player fitted into. Both were successful, but Fox missed in in the Super Bowl game trying to establish the running game and waited too late to trurn to the Pass. Sure he used the Pass in the 1st half as a third and it, but in the second half he allowed Jake to team up with all his receivers, and for a fluke mis kick by one of the best players in Panther history they lost the game to the Pats.

    On the other had developing a system that uses the talents of the players is the best method of coaching, with one exception, Chud’s option read with Cam.

    No question Smitty is a great player and roll modle, and you are right in that he will help the younger WR’s this year just by his presents and his desire.

    The Panthers have had two different proformances in the last two seasons and it is unfortunate that Rivera did not control Chud in either of them. In my opinion Cam was misused in both and I can only hope that Rivera and Shula have seen the light. i honestly believe Cam was used to highlight Chuds desire to force the opion into the NFL as a major offensive system, using the athleticism of Cam. Fine Cam can run out of the pocket when necessary but he is too important to be used as a running back. Had Cam been tought safe passing, with a lot of play action, his stats would have been much better, and the Panthers would have had a better win loss record in those first two years.

    Smitty will allow the Panthers to have at least one more chance at establishing this team as a great offense. Rivera and Shula should pust the play action with this team and blow the competion out the door. This team has Smitty to stretch the field, but also has great RBs to shorten it for Smitty, and complementary receivers to hit fast and furious. At some point the DC will have to make a decision to let Smith go or cover the holes he creates, and if Rivera and Shula call the plays correctly they will also create the havoc for the defense.

    Go Panthers.

    • Tony Cardwell

      Thank you for the comment! A agree completely with everything except for the obvious, my comment about Peyton. I was referring to Smiths slacking numbers in the seasons between 2005 and 2009. Delhomme fell off a cliff and I hope that’s something we can agree on. Smiths level of play went down because of Delhomme’s level of play was falling. I meant if Smith was under a more consistent QB like Manning his stats wouldn’t have fallen. Sorry for any confusion!

      • ahrcshaw

        I’ll go along with that, as I recall Delhomme hurt his arm, which was a sad day for the Panthers, Fox and Smitty.

  • Nin

    Article makes no sense… how is he slowing?

    Signs of aging? Get over the numbers game. So what if he is 34? Writers play
    into the age game way too much. Everyone ages different and everyone’s genetics are different. Look around you and look at people in your lives who have aged differently.

    He is 34 but still brings it – period. He is so fierce. Who else would you want
    as a NFL wide out? Imagine we had a better receiver on the other side? He
    would tear it up even more. No excuses why we don’t have another solid receiver yet… this will hinder Newton’s development as well.

    If he is slowing down why is he still double covered? Why are his numbers up the past 2 years = better quarterback (not because he is slowing down).

    Smith is an excellent starter and in the top 5 wide outs of the league. He has shown no signs of slowing down – in fact he plays smarter now than he did before.See his blocking last year? He needs another weapon to make
    him better.

    Until he shows signs of actually slowing down let’s write about this in the future.
    -Pather’s Fan

    • Tony Cardwell

      Not once did I say he was slowing down, I said his best days are behind him. To me his best days was the 2005 season when he was at the TOP of the league in my opinion. To me he is now filtering around 6 or 7. The entire article was praise to his importance to the success of the team, he is the biggest part of the passing game and will be for the next two maybe three seasons.

      I mention age because the human body can’t consistently take hits for twenty years! I implore you to read the article instead of skimming, it will make more sense to you and I will not be attacked.

      P. S. Spell Panthers right next time. I will take you more seriously.

      • ken

        2005 perhaps on paper, however he has become a lot better since then. Too bad he didn’t have a better supporting cast… QB, coaching, etc… Jerry Rice always had a great QB, great receiving cast, great coaches… makes a huge difference. I hope somehow he gets a Superbowl before he retires whenever that maybe (hopefully a long, long time!)

        I can’t name 5 receivers better than him now?

  • Raymond Horlebein

    You said “His time with the Panthers is almost up”. I disagree. I think he will play several more years. A Steve Smith at 40 would still be better than half the league! And I hope after he retires he is with Carolina in some position.