Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On Cam, Polian and the NFL

A few NFL-related notes and opinions in the aftermath of Carolina's 6-10 season and the beginning of the playoffs this weekend:

1) There are several "Rookie of the Year" awards, but the biggest and most respected are those presented by the Associated Press. They won't be announced this year until Feb.4 in a live TV special on the eve of the Super Bowl. Along with Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, the NFL and AP will announce the league MVP and other awards that evening.

I've said it before and will again -- Cam Newton should be a lock for Offensive Rookie of the Year. If he doesn't win it, that's crazy. I know Andy Dalton at Cincinnati had a fine year, too, and got the Bengals to the playoffs with a lot more defensive help than Newton had. But Newton had one of the best rookie years -- and possibly the best -- of any NFL player in history. He deserves it.

Incidentally, two rookie QBs will face off in Saturday's Cincinnati-Houston playoff game when Dalton faces T.J. Yates (who is supposed to be healthy again, although Jake Delhomme will be ready if not).

2) I mentioned in today's column that I thought Bill Polian got a raw deal in Indianapolis, where he and son Chris Polian were fired Monday. I still do. Polian was remarkably good at what he did -- he was the architect for Buffalo's Super Bowl teams, the Panthers' playoff team in 1996 and the Colts' decade of excellence.

Polian could also be a prickly character, and there's no shortage of stories about his temper and his on-and-off relationship with the media and others. While I got along pretty well with Polian -- I found that he would complain about a story you wrote, but also was one of the few NFL front-office types I've ever met who would also seek you out to compliment you on one -- some in the media did not, as this blog from an Indianapolis Star sportswriter attests.

3) The Panthers' inability to finish games was striking in 2011, and ultimately the reason they aren't in these playoffs. They really aren't that far away from a wild-card spot -- I think Carolina could give the 4,5 and 6 teams in the NFC a decent game (N.Y. Giants, Atlanta and Detroit). But check this out.

For the season, Carolina outscored its opponents in the first quarter (plus-13) and in the second quarter (plus-31). But they were minus-7 overall in the third quarter and then a staggering minus-60 in the fourth. There's the difference in the season.

Did you know that 49 percent of NFL games this season were decided by seven points or fewer? The fourth quarter, ultimately, makes the difference between 6-10 and 10-6, and the Panthers just didn't play well enough in the final 15 minutes of games this past season.

4) I recommended a couple of books in my column today but failed to note one thing about "The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky," which chronicles the 1992 NCAA tourney classic between Duke and Kentucky. Author Gene Wojciechowski will be signing copies of the book Thursday, Jan.12 at the Duke basketball museum/hall of fame adjacent to Cameron Indoor Stadium from 6-7:30 p.m. and on Friday, Jan.13th at The Regulator Book Shop in Durham.


GEOFORCE said...

I think you meant to say the 2011 team, not the 2010 team. The 2010 team did not even come close to those numbers

pantherkeith said...

yeah MUST have meant 2011 team. The 2010 team had an inability to BEGIN games, much less finish.

Big Blue Greg said...

I want nothing to do with the "The Last Great Game", The Stomp, the shot or anything to do with this game. I do not want to relive this. The only good thing out of this is there is some peace to be had in having a legitimate reason to hate something. Thus I feel at peace hating Duke.

Ron Rothstein said...

The main reason the Bobcats did so poorly in the second half is that other teams coaches adjusted at half time and the Bobcats did not...
Hopefully coach Rivera will learn from this glaring rookie mistake and improve next year.

Anonymous said...

Polian got a raw deal with Panthers also -

So did Bill Rosinski.

Now we're stuck with Hurney the ex-reporter and the 'poetic' Mick Nixon
Mixon has got to be replaced. Agonizingly painful to listen to with that clown Robinson by his side

Anonymous said...

Polian has stunk at drafting for 5 years and that's why the Colts w/o Manning were so terrible this year. But don't take my word for it:

Anonymous said...

I echo the last comment about Polian. I came to the conclusion his brain synapses were no longer firing correctly when he said out loud that as an organization, they decided that going 16-0 meant nothing to them, and that not playing your key players was far more important. So they kept clinching home field by week 13 and sat everyone for 3 weeks, and after the bye it had been a month since everyone had played together and they got bounced early from the playoffs every year but one. And in the modern NFL, having no good backup QB is suicide, as this past season in Indy shows. So I think his getting fired was justified.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 8:50 -

So, you'd rather have Polian, here and now, as GM rather than Hurney?

Huh huh huh huh hahhhhhh!

You don't know Jack!