Friday, May 18, 2012

Panther notes on Cam, Kuechly and Beason

Some mid-May thoughts about the Carolina Panthers:

-- I think Panther coach Ron Rivera just about had to let Jon Beason play where he wants -- which is obviously middle linebacker, based on his past statements -- after drafting Luke Kuechly in the first round.

Beason has played in multiple Pro Bowls. Kuechly, for all his gaudy tackle stats at Boston College, is a rookie. So you have to put Beason in the middle to start and Kuechly at weakside linebacker. That's not only the right football move, it's the right move in terms of team chemistry.

Will it stay that way? No way to tell. Kuechly is learning the middle spot, too, and Beason already knows the weakside spot. Who's to know where it goes as the season progresses and injuries factor in. But you can't just tell Beason -- coming off a long injury rehab and a prideful man, just as most every successful NFL player is -- to move outside for the rookie. Rivera, a former NFL linebacker himself, knows that.

With Thomas Davis, it's trickier. The odds are ultimately against Davis coming back from a third ACL surgery on the same knee, and both the Panthers and Davis know that. So do you start Davis over Kuechly automatically (I'm assuming here Beason and James Anderson will both start)?

That's a decision you have to take the Fifth on for now if you're Rivera -- just let it play out. It will be obvious by late August, if not earlier, what to do there.

-- Talk about some athletic respect. Cam Newton finished fifth in a poll of 146 NBA players, taken by Sports Illustrated, about which athlete of today could play in the NBA right now if he wasn't doing something else.

The NBA players' list went like this:

1. Calvin Johnson, Lions WR 16%
2. Jimmy Graham, Saints TE 10%
3. Terrell Owens, Free-Agent WR 7%
4. Antonio Gates, Chargers TE 7%
5. Cam Newton, Panthers QB 6%
6. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons TE 5%

My vote would have been for Gates, who had by far the best college basketball career of that group (Graham and Gonzalez also played college hoops). Newton? He's a phenomenal athlete, yes. But in the NBA he'd be a "tweener" -- an undersized power forward or a small forward who would have to guard extremely quick "threes." And he has no big-time basketball background to speak of. Still, it's an interesting thought, isn't it?

-- Speaking of Newton: Greg Cosell, a senior producer at NFL Films and one of the best deep thinkers among media types in today's game, recently wrote an interesting blog post about Newton and Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Cosell re-watched every snap Newton took in 2011 and came to the conclusion that Newton has become such a good quarterback not because he's a great runner, but because he's such a poised passer. Here's an excerpt of the story from Cosell, who is the nephew of famous broadcaster Howard Cosell and a longtime executive producer:

"Newton did not have a record-setting rookie season because he’s a great athlete. Certainly, his touchdown run against the Bucs late in the season was spectacular, and few quarterbacks have that kind of breathtaking running ability. But no one becomes a great quarterback in the NFL because of the way they run.

"I watched every Newton snap in 2011, and the reality was he played exceptionally well from the pocket. He was poised and composed, decisive and accurate. He stood tall and delivered the ball in the eye of the storm. He made difficult throws into tight coverage. He did not run unless it was the last and only option or it was a designed play call. What was so extraordinary about Newton’s season was that he transitioned to the NFL in a manner that was unexpected and unforeseen based on his college résumé. He was primarily a run/option quarterback at Auburn. While the big arm and occasional NFL throw were there, Newton was not often asked to display the attributes necessary to thrive on Sundays.

"Two early-season plays really stood out last fall, and previewed Newton’s exceptional season. His first NFL touchdown pass, 77 yards to Steve Smith on the opening Sunday, featured a change in protection against a blitz. The ability to recognize and then adjust before the snap is an increasingly necessary attribute to play at a high level in this league, and Newton demonstrated it in Week 1. Three weeks later against the Bears, on a 26-yard completion to Smith, Newton showed the kind of progression reading and pocket toughness that are two hallmarks of top quarterback play. The initial read was to his left, but it was taken away by the Bears coverage. With the pocket collapsing, Newton came backside to Smith on a dig route. It was as good as it gets. And that was his fourth NFL start."

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your article. Thank you Scott.

Anonymous said...

I think he'll work Davis back into the mix...gradually. I wonder if Meremont doesn't have some 3-4 plays in mind, using Davis sparingly. It's now or never for Davis and he's as good as they get when he's healthy. That being the problem.

Bill said...

1- State that an NFL positional battle will be decided during training camp (duh).
2- Comment on a poll regarding local player
3- Copy and paste real sports analysis on said local player
Column done!

Scott why don't YOU go back and watch every snap from last season and give us YOUR thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I think Beason will know when it's time for a switch, and it won't be a big deal.

Michael said...

Good Lord people, it's just a blog post in the middle of the offseason. You want a hard-hitting investigation every damn day? I know it's frustrating when something that's free on the Internet doesn't blow your mind and make you weep with joy, but do try to calm down and stop looking for things to whine about.

Rob said...

If you don't like his articles then why are you here? Good job Scott. Thanks for the read.

Anonymous said...

I think almost anyone off the street could write better articles than this guy. The whole time I'm reading I feel like it's something a kid in 5th grade would write.

Anonymous said...

I just love the readers of these and sorensen's blogs who do nothing but complain about the content. Maybe they are jealous that they only have the option of responding/commenting on a blog and none of the responsibility/prestige to POST it

Panther Dan said...

I submit that Julius Peppers could play in the NBA as well. He was a decent player at UNC.

Anonymous said...

What is he talkin about???

Anonymous said...

The basketball players must have forgotten that Julius Peppers was a pretty good baller at UNC and I'd think he'd be a defensive beast in the NBA...and probably not a bad rebounder at all (think Dennis Rodman, only more intimidating.)

Anonymous said...

The ballers know that #90 would start dreaming about playing for another team the second his "team" fell behind by 1 free-throw.

Anyway, I enjoyed this article, Scott! I think you should take a poll on what your next book about the Panthers should be titled.

qdog112 said...

Too bad it takes outsiders comments to validate our young star. I argued with colleagues last year (before Cam took a snap), that he would instantly be the best athlete on the field, when he played. At the time it was bold and sounded crazy to most. How does it sound now? Some fantasy rankings have Cam the #1 QB. Charlotte, we have struck the mother-load @ QB. Let us hope the other players, "play up to his level".

Anonymous said...

Hes a load for sure ...

A big smelly dump load ...

Anonymous said...

Kuechly will eventually take over the middle spot; Beason is good but not great and I do believe Luke will be great. As far as Davis I really hate it for him but it is time for him to be let go.

Anonymous said...

This coming season can't get here fast enough!

wbrazell said...

well all my freinds know, and what i said when Cam was drafted. he will end up as, if not the best, but one of the best qb's ever. i watched every game he played at auburn and this guy is a great football player simple, and what he did last year is nothing compared to what this dude can do. as far as beason, davis anderson, and kuechly we played a 3-4 defence in just about every game for a play or two I think we will go with a 3-4 defence alot more this year it's just smart. think not many teams can play a 4-3 and 3-4 on any play. on offence the teams that can run will be the teams that will win. all this passing will be slowed down. defence's will play the pass better this season, because they will have a off season

DTM said...

Hate hate hate. Cam is great. Ain't no scam. He's the man.
Panthers rule and Scott is cool.
Blank the Saints blank on your blanking blanks.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed this article. Really well written and insightful. Would love to see more local articles about Panthers, Bobcats, Niners, and Davidson in the observer. I will throw up if I read another Coach K and Roy article.

Anonymous said...

Beason is an all-pro NFL MLB. He is not giving up the spot where he is one of the best in the league. Luke can play the middle after Beason retires or trade Luke to another team for a DT. Nuff said.

Mark said...

I enjoy Scott's Blog, why all the whiners.

J said...

Until he blew out his heel last year, Beason was one of the top 5 MLBs in the league. Going into last year, we had the deepest LB corps in the league. Then EVERYBODY got hurt. So I understand why we drafted Kuechly when it looks like we don't need him. I would start him at WLB so Davis can work back in slowly.

Cam is going to be the best QB in the league this year; forget about Rodgers, Brees, the Mannings and Brady. It's all Cam, all the time!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about Julius Pppers, he did play in the final four as well and was a force when he played college Basketball at UNC.