Playoffs? Playoffs?


I’m amazed.  I’m dumbfounded.  I’m baffled.  I’m not sure why I’m writing this on a Saturday.  Yes I am.  It’s because another of the widely-accepted media outlets has provided Carolina Panthers fans with another reason to scratch their heads.

This time it’s an article written by a former outsider who has become accepted enough to write for a “major publication’s” website – Mike Florio.  (You might know him better as the anti-estabilshment blogger from Pro Football Talk.)  Now, he’s writing two columns per week for the Sporting News’ website.

In his most recent entry, Florio is making playoff predictions for the 2008 season.  He’s deftly chosen six teams from last year’s postseason to miss out in ’08 – Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants.

I can agree with at least three on that list and possibly four but it’s not always a good idea to bet against the World Champions even though we’ve seen Super Bowl-winning teams miss out the following year in the past.

Then Florio goes on to list six teams that missed the playoffs last year who he is sure will be on the outside looking in once again next season.  This is the part where I blow a gasket.

Here’s what he says about our Carolina Panthers:

The Panthers have the talent. For whatever reason, they can’t put it all together. It has been that way for two seasons, since the Panthers lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game on Jan. 22, 2006.

Once again, the Panthers look solid on paper, especially with a pair of first-round picks in running back Jonathan Stewart and offensive tackle Jeff Otah. But Carolina GM Marty Hurney still hasn’t done anything to establish a receiving threat across from Steve Smith or provide depth at quarterback behind Jake Delhomme, whose star is in danger of burning out for good.

Come January, then, it’ll be another round of excuse-making for a team that should have been good enough to go places in the postseason but simply didn’t.

Let me go on record – Florio, you’re wrong on so many levels.

First, educate yourself a little, would you?  While I’m not the biggest Marty Hurney fan on the planet I will have to give the man some credit for doing something “to establish a receiving threat across from Steve Smith.”  I’ll name them for you – Muhsin Muhammad and D.J. Hackett.

No, he didn’t add Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens or Randy Moss.  We don’t need players like that here.  What he did was far from the nothing you think he did.  Maybe the Panthers don’t have a perennial All-Pro opposite Steve Smith but to hear Smith tell it, he’s happy with who is lined up opposite him.  Plus, none of these guys are named Drew Carter or Keary Colbert.  I’d have to say that adding Jerry Rice ten years after his prime would be an upgrade over those guys.

Second, Jake Delhomme’s star is not “in danger of burning out for good.”  What gave you this idea?  Was it the Tommy John surgery?

Read up on this procedure, please.  John Smoltz came back from it with flying colors.  Yeah, he’s a pitcher and not a quarterback.  What makes him a perfect comparison is that he is a pitcher since pitchers’ arms take more abuse than quarterbacks’ arms.  My guess is that Jake comes back from this injury and surgery better than he was before it.

Third, I’d like to turn your attention to the schedule that the Panthers will face next year.  Since the team will face only four playoff teams from ’07 and seven teams that had losing records last year, I’d say they have a very good chance to reclaim some of their pride.

Fourth, while you included, the Jets, Browns, Chiefs, Lions and Cardinals you had to throw in the Panthers, right?  Are you forgetting some of the other obvious teams?  Are Miami, Oakland, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Houston, and St. Louis not bad enough for you to include?

I guess it’s all going to boil down to this – we are going to have to read more drivel like this during this offseason.  It’s what happens when your team hasn’t made the playoffs in two years, I guess.  It does, at least, create low expectations for the team.  Then, when they’ve won their tenth game and are on their way to the postseason, guys like Mike Florio can start writing columns entitled “Welcome to the Playoff Party Panthers: Teams Who Could Make Surprise Runs Deep In the Playoffs!”

There’s nothing like a bandwagon-riding media moron, is there?