I caught up with Panther linebacker Jon Beason Tuesday afternoon for an exclusive interview after Beason spoke to an appreciative crowd of several hundred folks at the Charlotte Touchdown Club. Beason, as usual, was great in front of that crowd – he’s among the most personable and genuine players the Panther have ever had.
But right now, Beason is also very upset about the way the Panthers’ season is going. With Carolina at 0-2, Beason is ready to blame somebody.
Beason told me he played a “horrible” game against Atlanta and that he’s doing some personal “soul-searching” to figure out what he needs to do better against Dallas this Monday night. Always a stand-up guy, Beason said fans need to stop blaming Jake Delhomme or Julius Peppers for Carolina’s first two defeats.
“You can make this your headline,” Beason told me. “With Pep, it’s just because he’s Pep. People are like, ‘Ok, we’re 0-2. Who we are going to point the finger at?’ Last week, Jake played bad. This week he was a lot better – good enough to win. So who are we going to point the finger at? Pep.
“You tell ‘em if they want to point the finger at somebody, they can point the finger at me. You tell ‘em I said I am not playing as good as I should be and I need to get better.”
Beason further said of his own performance: “I haven’t played well. I haven’t played comfortable. I haven’t played free yet. I’m out there, I’m doing my thing, but I need to step up and really be that dominant force that I know that I am.”
Beason made no excuses for his play, but it is true he missed much of the preseason due to a left knee injury and that he hasn’t had a lot of help up front, either. Still, linebacker Thomas Davis has been in on far more tackles and been more active than Beason, who made the Pro Bowl in 2008 in only his second year in the NFL.
Beason also said he still does not feel “fluent” in the defensive system of new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks.
As for the Panthers, Beason said: “We’re still a good team. We’ve dealt with a lot so far. We’re still there. We’re still getting better. The stage is set. What better game – against the Cowboys, new stadium, Monday night game, for the world to see and to silence all the critics. Go out and not just play well but to beat the Dallas Cowboys.”
That sounded almost like a guarantee. I asked Beason if it was.
“It’d be great for you,” Beason laughed. “Foxy [coach John Fox] wouldn’t like it very much.”
So while Beason wouldn’t guarantee a win over Dallas Monday night, he did say this: “I’ll be better. That’s my guarantee.”
I’ll have a lot more from my interview with Beason in my column that will be published in Wednesday’s Charlotte Observer and will also be posted online.
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