This year during the Panthers season I am going to occasionally post a statistics-heavy blog, taking a deeper look at something regarding the Carolina team.
Today we'll get started with one about Mike Goodson's fumbles -- a sore subject for the Panthers' multi-talented back.
Goodson had two fumbles Saturday night in the Panthers' 20-10 preseason win over the New York Giants, losing one of them (the other bounced out of bounds).
Not great, but is it a trend?
Unfortunately for Goodson, it has been recently. In the last two regular-season games of 2010, Goodson fumbled a total of three times, losing two of them. That means in his past three games, he has fumbled five times, losing three.
Now the preseason game won't count in the stats, of course. But nevertheless, this is disturbing. Coach Ron Rivera said Saturday night after the game that Goodson was too good to give up on but that the problem would (once again) be addressed.
Panthers owner Jerry Richardson told my colleague Tom Sorensen before the season about Goodson: "Mike Goodson knows very clearly that he is in good favor with me when he does not fumble the ball."
Goodson had only one fumble in his 2009 rookie season, but that's partly because he wasn't used nearly as often. Now he has seven fumbles altogether in two seasons (not counting exhibition games). He had six fumbles altogether in 2010 while running the ball, receiving and returning kickoffs. That wasn't the worst in the NFL -- Cleveland's Peyton Hillis had eight fumbles, leading all running backs in the category -- but it did put Goodson among the NFL's top 10 fumblers (among non-quarterbacks).
By comparison, DeAngelo Williams, the Panthers' most sure-handed back only has six fumbles in five seasons and once went an entire season without fumbling. (Jonathan Stewart's ball security is between those two -- better than Goodson, although Stewart did fumble four times in 2010, but not as good as DeAngelo).
Goodson apologized for the fumbles via Twitter late Saturday night, saying he was sorry about them and would work on it. A good-hearted soul, I'm sure he indeed will work hard on this. And he better.
Once you get the reputation as a fumbler in the NFL -- and Goodson now has it -- defenders try even harder to strip you.
Goodson too often lets the ball stray from he security of his chest, holding it out like a loaf of bread to be batted away. As the Panthers' best kickoff returner and best third-down back, he's got to get better at this, because he has potential to burn in so many other ways.