Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is Panthers' sky falling?

I must be missing something regarding the histrionics concerning the Carolina Panthers' August so far.

Yes, they are 0-2 in preseason games entering Saturday's home exhibition vs. Baltimore (because, in part, the Carolina third-stringers can't hold a lead. Shame on them!).

Yes, they lost DT Maake Kemoeatu to a season-ending injury. Yes, both LBs Jon Beason and Thomas Davis are sidelined by sprained knee ligaments (MCLs, in both cases). Yes, safety Charles Godfrey has a broken hand. Yes, backup RB Jonathan Stewart has injury problems again.

But my gosh, is it this serious? Judging from what I hear in person and on talk radio and read via the Internet fan comments and the headline in my very own Charlotte Observer on Tuesday (3 injuries rip heart out of defense), we've reached the crisis point. And we're not even at Fake Game No.3 yet.

OK. Look. Let's all calm down here. The heart of the defense has not actually been ripped out. Nor has the heart of this team.

Now if Beason is hurt seriously, that one will sting badly. The "Beast" is a total stud and the team's most versatile linebacker. But other than that, c'mon. I've never heard so many people talk like the fallen Kemoeatu was the team MVP or something. Yet fans mostly ripped Kemoeatu while he was the starting DT or else paid him little attention at all, because he didn't make the big plays that Kris Jenkins did when he was here in all his eccentric glory.

I'm not arguing that Kemo is not valuable; he is. But he's also not irreplaceable, like (you can insert sound of knocking on wood here) a season-ending injury to Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams or Jake Delhomme would be. Beason falls into that "irreplaceable" category too -- Dan Connor is serviceable but no Beason -- but there's no reason to believe right now that Beason's injury is incredibly serious.

In other words, nothing THAT bad has actually happened yet to the Panthers in August, Carolina fans. It's OK. Really.

I've covered this team since its inception in 1995, and I can remember a lot worse moments for the Panthers in previous Augusts. Here are 3: Kerry Collins getting his jaw broken by Bill Romanowski in 1997, Steve Smith punching Ken Lucas in 2008, Sam Mills being initially diagnosed with cancer in 2003.

So let's put all this in perspective a little, shall we?

(Incidentally, if you want to follow me on Twitter and get my thoughts on the Panthers in real time (more or less), go to twitter.com/scott_fowler and follow me).


*** On an unrelated note... I wrote a long story on David Chadwick Jr., the former Charlotte Latin basketball star, for today's paper detailing the ups and downs of his strange recruiting process. You can find it here.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

The only issue I have is that the Beason injury seem eerily similar to the one Shawn Merriman had last year. Remember he tried to play in week 1 against the Panthers with his knee all taped and then decided that he couldn't play the rest of the season. I hope it isn't the case for Beason. As far as the other injuries, none are that bad so far. We can get another serviceable DT once cuts are made. Godfrey was solid in his first year, but wasn't a game-breaker. Throw a veteran back there and you're not losing too much. As long as Beason and Stewart's injuries aren't too bad, the Cats should be OK.

Anonymous said...

I've pretty much have been saying this to everyone. They're not looking that bad. DT is the only week spot. Yes, the Offense has been a little sloppy (except D-Will) and the Defense is missing tackles, but that will change Week 1. If we can find a serviceable DT and STAY healthy, the Panthers will be in the fight for the division.

704Champ said...

I'm with you Scott. Last year (and in other previous years) when we won preseason games, everyone was quick to remind us that they are only preseason games. Now that the Panthers have started 0-2, everyone wants to freak out. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Fans LOVE to panic, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

We need to find a decent tackle to shore up the middle then i will feel better. Right now we are going to get torched in the run game if we have to play with what we have.

I just noticed on the Panthers website in the team store that Jarret Jerseys are inthe clearance section next to David Carr's and Keary Colbert's priced at $19.99. HMMMMMMMM!

Anonymous said...

My biggest problem with this team is that they seriously overpaid Julius Peppers, thus costing them an experienced long snapper and depth everywhere else. I just don't see how it is possible for them to finish better than 3rd in the NFC South with such poor depth.

My 2nd problem is their re-signing Jake to a long term contract their and failure to DRAFT a young replacement for him. The Panthers like to say that they model their franchise after the Steelers. Do you know when the Steelers have had winning teams....when they had big time winners at quarterback. In the 1970's they had Terry Bradshaw. And within a year of drafting Big Ben they again became a powerhouse team. So why do the Panthers insist on continuing the mediocrity at QB??

I have followed this team since they came to Charlotte in '95. I have watched all but two games in that entire time. However, I am just disgusted with the vanilla approach of John Fox and Marty Hurney. My prediction is a 7-9 record and 3rd in the NFC South. The Falcons will win the NFC South by a landslide.

Anonymous said...

Scott,and the rest of you need to open your eyes to the obvious.It's not pre-season that i'm looking at,it's what happened at the end of last year,and nothing was done to improve it.Teams are running on them because of what they saw last year,they did nothing to improve the d-line or the qb situation.The schedule is harder this year ,and i don't think they are equiped to handle it.

charlesbright said...

Pre-Season games mean nothing. (Say it....then believe it). Fabricated injuries are a fact of life. (Say it....then believe it).
Beason going down, good. Now we get to see what Conner can do under pressure. Smith going down, good. We saw what Moore does under pressure. Davis going down, good. We saw what Anderson does under pressure. Stewart going down, good. We saw what Goodson can do under pressure. Godfrey going down, "it is what it is"- still, a good chance to see what Teal can do is positive side. Soooooooo,...... what's the problem? We learned, and that makes us better.

Anonymous said...

I was at the airport yesterday and saw the Steelers plane at one of the gates. Are they in town for anything football related (trade discussions?) or do they just charter their plane out when its not in use? Any insight?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad they have tough opponents in the fake games, it will weed out the weak. Last year's schedule was a gift that Fox & Delhomme ultimately blew up. Time to man up and play against tough teams. I think the Cats will be fine, the rough schedule will only make them better.

Anonymous said...

It's not their record that's concerning but their thus far terrible showing on D that's the concern. And it's not just the 3rd string D that struggling mightily to stop the run or get a pass rush.

Making light of Kemo's loss seems to be a bit naive. Yes he wasn't the D's MVP nor did he ever do anything to get fans excited. But he did fill the middle and he helped to keep Beason free to be able make all those tackles. The problem is that his current replacement is terrible (and so at the moment we having nothing on the roster to replace him) and would create a huge hole in the D and allow teams to get out on the LBs. So, as we have thus far seen in preseason teams will be able to run up the gut and run wide on us with consistent success. In addition our safeties aren't filling and tackling well so yes it feels like it may be time to start panicking.

I'm not as concerned with the injuries to Beason and Davis as I am with the DT and safety play. Anderson has been doing an adequate job though is making mistakes that have been costly. Connor I think is going to make for an excellent MLB so I don't agree with your description of him being merely "serviceable," but I reckon that's beside the point.

Now we got away with not having the greatest pair of safeties last year but I think that with the loss of Kemo, they are going to need to provide much better run support this year and so far I haven't seen it happening and I don't have much hope of seeing better. Teal may be the answer but I am not confident of this.

The only reason I'm not in total panick mode is on the hope that Hurney will find someone who will adequately replace Kemo. I dunno but it seems to be a really big "IF" that you and some others are taking too lightly.

Losing Steve Smith or Jake would kill us but otherwise I think Kemo is the biggest loss we could have had. While DW and Beason are awesome, we have good backups there.

Saying that there have been worse moments isn't really an argument against panic now. Though there may have been some very redfaced and truamatic moments for the team, your examples are poor as it relates to this argument. We had B'line to backup Kerry, and we felt good that the Smith/Lucas incident wouldn't have a great negative effect on the team's play.

As far as us having poor depth, we have always been in a situation where we have had poor depth at certain positions. Some years we have been lucky not to have injuries at those positions and other years not so lucky. I actually don't really buy the poor depth argument. In many areas we have some excellent backups (RBs, LBs, corners, DE, TE) and to me it seems like we have better depth than in years past. The team has also made some big improvements in the return game and possibly in the pass rush while maintaining almost all of it's starters who went 12-4 just last year.

As far as "mediocrity at QB," how many really good (great) QBs are floating around and exactly where would Hurney be able to just go get and get one. We havn't been high enough up on the draft board to get a surefire great QB (if there's such a thing) and you can't get them in FA without being lucky. Jake is a good QB who ocassionally has a really bad game. But as long as he can win 12 games a year I don't think that QB such be our first area of concern.

Anonymous said...

Scott you my friend are a pile of trash..

Anonymous said...

US Scare had a hugh hub in Pittsburgh. I believe they have a few NFL paint schemes on a few planes.

Wade said...

Part of the issues is that both the Giants and the Dolphins acted like the game was a regular season game with regular season plays. For example, the Giants blitzed the punter and the Dolphins ran a ton of wildcat stuff. Conversely, the Panthers have been very plain and vanilla. That is the way it should be in the pre-season. You don't want to show your plays in a meaningless game.

Last year, Detroit went 4-0 in the pre-season. How did that work out for them? What I look for is improvement. And I have seen that.

Anonymous said...

I'm worried about QB position. All 3 not playing well in my opinion. Jake's arm just doesn't seem to have the strength he used to have. No zip in the ball. Also poor play calling of course that is only my opinion. GO PANTHERS.

Anonymous said...

Get over the preseason...look at the Lion's last year in preseason...4-0...what was their record in the regular season? Oh yeah...0-16. Please learn what preseason is all about. Yes, we have injuries...it's part of the game of football.

Anonymous said...

This is nothing like the Merriman injury, he had a torn ACL you tard!

Anonymous said...

To the commenter about not drafting a QB this year: Why would you? The draft this year was extremely thin at QB. The best we would have gotten is a backup at best. Next year's draft is much deeper at QB. there will be franchise quality QBs in the second (and possible third) round. Why waste a pick on a backup QB this year?

---------------------------
And the Merriman injury wasn't ACL. It was the other two ligaments in the knee.

Anonymous said...

Scott is not always spot on, but he is with this piece. the person that said he is trash is just trying to get a rise out of people. people need to stop freaking out like a bunch of little girls.

as for the steelers plane, the steelers don't us that. there is also a panther plane, but they are commercial planes.

Anonymous said...

Panthers will be 5-11 this year. Face it, the Panthers are a scab team at best. Kinda like Robby Gordon, Martin Truex Jr. Kevin Harvick,A.J. Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler of NASCAR.

D Wright said...

First of all, I think this "column" is a cheap out, and many of the posters have it about right.

A. We are looking for the things that worried us in the offseason. They are: inconsistent qb play, lack of quality receiver depth, a gaping hole in the middle that the Giants ran through like damp tissue paper, and a sketchy secondary.

B. It is reasonable to call out those things that confirm those worries. If Steve Smith were dropping balls, no one would notice, because no one believes that's who he is. Colbert on the other hand...

C. We are concerned about Jake 3 and out Delhomme because that's what we have done in the reg. season, and we want to see progress, not perfection, progress.

Last but not least, the worst kind of argument is comparing the things with which we are concerned with unrelated examples, well, it's certainly not relevant or reporting. That kind of argument will reduce all sports to unimportant given the large problems of the world, but it's fun, they're our team, and we'd prefer to hear that they recognize what's going on and are either taking steps to improve it, or nothing because they can't, too expensive, etc.

This staff has demonstrated an unwillingness to adjust to adversity and staying the course in spite of everything, so EXCUSE US for asking the reporters if they could report on progress. yeesh

Anonymous said...

Great article. I think one point that remains unspoken is that it is relatively impossible to look at the season with optimism at this point with the perspective of Carolina being a powerhouse team. I think that we are all just hoping that we can be the cardiac cats at best and that's a hard pill to swallow.

Anonymous said...

Could someone go to New York or Philadelphia and hire a REAL sports writer so we can stop reading what the wannabe's in Charlotte write.

Anonymous said...

Scott, you ARE missing something here. It's not the wins and losses -that means nothing right now. I agree with you point regarding Kemo - yes, he is replaceable. As soon as we trade for a starting DT, everyone will feel a bit better. The other injuries will mend. HOWEVER, fans are left with the Seattle game last year, and the first two preseason games this year, where the offense AND defense has looked absolutely horrible. The offense looks like they don't have a CLUE as to what to do, and the defense is getting absolutely abused. Is this not cause for concern? NO, the sky isn't falling and things could take a 180, but they'll HAVE to take a complete 180 if we are to compete against a more difficult schedule this year.

Anonymous said...

People kill me with the stop panicking lines. Just because a fan points out weak points doesn't mean they're panicking.

I still think back to the Giants game where Kemo went down and our run defense was thrashed. If that wasn't enough for us to look for a veteran back up in the off season than what would be. Now we're stuck looking throught the DT leftovers pile, and whomever we sign will have no time to get acclimated to our defense. Maybe we survive this injury or maybe it cost us playoff season. If it does, that's enough reason to get rid of Fox and Hurney in my book.

Anonymous said...

NEVER underestimate Steve "better triple cover or get torched" Smith OR Julius "freak athlete playing for a 100 million dollar contract" Peppers OR DeAngelo "settin records only met by Jim Brown" Williams

Newzinz said...

This "Anonymous" guy is all over the place...what a schizo!

Anonymous said...

I think panic is the wrong word, frustrated might be more appropriate. Frustrated that the JP saga leaves the future of the panthers in question as well as the current potential of this years team. We were unable to retain key players & reserves and fill needs from last year. Therefore, for me, it is frustrating to see those issues play out in the first two fake games. Beign rushed over at will, JP effort looking like 2007, botched long snap leads to 0 points.

I will not panic for another 19 days however. I think we wil get a DT to fill the need like we did with Bridges on the OL years back. I expected the right pieces to all be on the field at the same time, something that has yet to happen. (smith, moose, & Moore, sorry Jarrett and Diggs, TD, and beason on D). Our OL is tops we just cannot have an injuries, risky game for that position.

It's not panic, but the preseason hasn't offered comfort going into game 1.

Vikram said...

My Predictions (6-10)

Week 1: vs Philadelphia Eagles (L 14-21)
Week 2: at Atlanta Falcons (L 10-38)
Week 3: at Dallas Cowboys (L 10-20)
Week 4: Bye
Week 5: vs Washington Redskins (W 24-16)
Week 6: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (W 23-14)
Week 7: vs Buffalo Bills (W 21-10)
Week 8: at Arizona Cardinals (L 24-31)
Week 9: at New Orleans Saints (L 20-23)
Week 10: vs Atlanta Falcons (L 21-26)
Week 11: vs Miami Dolphins (W 27-20)
Week 12: at New York Jets (W 21-18)
Week 13: vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (W 30-16)
Week 14: at New England Patriots (L 10-35)
Week 15: vs Minnesota Vikings (L 16-24)
week 16: at New York Giants (L 14-28)
Week 17: vs New Orleans Saints (L 20-27)

Anonymous said...

Just get a Horse in the Middle Like a Dorsey from KC and Pep will be fine... Bulk Brown up quick get him in the lineup with Pep and we will be fine barring any more injuries..

Anonymous said...

Your predictions basically having us beating weak teams and losing to anybody with a pulse...This team is hard to beat at home according to the undefeated season last year, if they go 5-3 at home and 3-5 on the road 8-8 would be a better sinceable pick...

Batman said...

I don't think the sky is falling quite yet. And no, Kemo is not the MVP of the D. However, Kemo's presence allows the studs to be studs. I have always stood by Pep, but in truth, if he is doubled and frustrated early - he tends to disappear. Kemo is 6-5 and listed at 345 (probably more like 360 mid-season). His pure size demands 1 1/2 -2 blockers. Which frees up Pep on the outside to use his speed, frees up the Beast to patrol the middle of the field. With out that presence, plugging up the middle the O-line is free to double up on our 17 million dollar man. Be honest - how many times has Peppers made a play when doubled? Not many.

I would be willing to put it out there that losing Kemo knocks us down from a 10-11 Win season to 8-9 wins and LUCKY to back into the play-offs. The kind of football that this team likes to play requires the D to make stops.

Just like Steve Smith needs another decent receiver to insure he isn't double/tripled every time - Peepers needs a big body like Kemo's to make sure he isn't doubled on the line + chipped in the backfield.

Losing 2 pre-season games isn't the end, hell...lose them all. They are there to test game time situations. Loosing Kemo is a big deal, and if we loose the Beast in the middle...ugh. We will be mired in mediocrity. Not good enough to get to the play-offs and not bad enough to get a high draft pick.

Anonymous said...

sidsmithpe writes

Charles, I don't know what you've been looking at, but the first team offensive line abd the first team defense are getting outplayed by the other teams 1st teams. This is a time to worry. too bad you can't see it. Jake is not sharp and so far Deangelos has made the offensive line loom better thabn they have blocked. The defense is porous and the shutdown corner Chris Gamble is a sissy tackler when will hurt this team. Furthermore on offense, #3 reciever Dwayne Jarrett is not capable of getting open in the pro game. SEE IT charles, it's all true and will manifest itself further , probably, unless their is a drastic change from what i've seen so far.

Anonymous said...

Seriously? I am really worried about the panthers this year. I hope they can have a winning season. Sure our offense is going to be just as good as last years... hopefully. But our defense looks as bad or worse than the one that gave up 30 or more points in the final 5 games or something like that. I don't know of anyone on our roster who can fill kemo's spot. Is anyone else worried?

Anonymous said...

I must say that Vikram's prediction is spot on. I would recommend him/her to place bets in Vegas. Thats a compliment, mind you.

Jethro B. Umpkins said...

i was at the airport the other day and saw the Fed Ex plane there. Is Fed Ex in Charlotte for something, or do they just charter it out to US Air sometimes?

Anonymous said...

D Wright ,u da man !

Anonymous said...

That is a youth Jarett jersey. there is also a youth Gamble jersy on sale too he must be getting cut too. O and a Peppers Womens jersey and bobble head dolls must be really serous with him

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think the sky is falling, I just don't think they are very good. No 2nd receiver yet and Jarrett won't make it. No replacement for Kemo, secondary is questionable, Foxy is letting players skip pre-season with minor injuries, and Peppers is giving no effort. Best they will do is 9-7.

Anonymous said...

I think the most interesting thing about this post is that just a few weeks ago you claimed in this same forum that you don't listen to talk radio, but you state here that you have heard the panic on the radio??!??!?!??

Anonymous said...

Scott, the way you're posing in your bio picture tells me everything I need to know about you and that is that you're a total d-bag that happens to be a sports columnist

Anonymous said...

Beason is a little baby.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody rembmember playing the giants last season??

You know, the game where Kemo was out and they burned us for ~300 yards when we had pretty much been all season holding elite running backs to under 100 yards?

Kemo being out is HUGE (literally and metaphorically), and I don't think we'll realistically be able to replace him and our run D will subsequently suffer like our entire D did at the end of last season.

I don't think we can count on the offense to win every game in a shootout, we're not built for that. We got lucky last season.

Anonymous said...

I was trying to read this article, but it was muffled. It was like Scott Fowler was trying to write this blog while having his head up his ass.

Maybe he was preaching to the whine and cheese Panthers fans, but this level of condescension is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else noticed how bad Na'il Diggs has looked, when Beason returns they should move Connor to strong. Diggs has 2 tackles in five quarters of play and Connor has 13 tackles in four quarters of play. Strong side backers need to produce more than 2 tackles, preseason or not.