Sorry I have missed the last two dates on my Sunday Brunch article. I am back on track now. Thanks to all my readers.
With Julius Peppers finally signing his Franchise Tag (which is valued at about 16.7 million) the Carolina Panther can finally sleep easy, at last for the next few months. But in all honesty Carolina has issues. Their defense, despite what many think Carolina’s defense wasn’t very good last year. In fact, it was rather average to put it nicely. The Panthers finished 18th in total defense, hardly intimidating. Peppers, Middle Linebacker Jon Beason, and Cornerback Chris Gamble, those are the team’s best players on defense. The rest are rather no-name journeymen who, while solid players, have allowed Carolina’s once fierce defense to degrade.
While I love the selection of Everett Brown in the draft it will take some time before he becomes the pass rush force I believe he can be. And new Defensive Coordinator Ron Meeks leaves much to be desired. Otherwise the Panther defense will struggle to improve and will possible regress unless another proven, talented defensive lineman that can contribute immediately can be found – I am honestly shocked that the Panthers didn’t make a serious play at Greg Ellis.
Offense is the team’s strength but even it isn’t that imposing. Yes I know it finished 10thin total offense but that has more to do with teams like Indianapolis, Dallas, and San Diego having huge down seasons than to their own offensive firepower. In truth, in Carolina the individual pieces are greater than the whole. I love their running game, DeAngelo Williams has finally realized his great talent and has emerged as a top notch back and Jonathon Stewart is ready to break out as well. With this great wealth of running backs capable of carrying the load Carolina may soon be in a running back controversy.
Steve Smith is the third-best wide receiver in the NFL and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball and Moose Muhammad is a solid veteran number two. But behind them there is nothing as Dwayne Jerett has proven to be a massive bust. And there really isn’t much to talk about at the tight end position.
The O-line is among the best in football, powerful road graters and solid pass protectors. But QB Jake Delhomme is the wildcard. A proven veteran he is perfect to run the team’s offense. But he has significant problems when asked to throw 30 or more times a game. And his TD-to-interception ratio leaves much to be desired. As big of a Panthers fan as I am – and I do follow the team closely – I just can’t help but feel they will regress.
10 things I think I thought and Am Now Thinking Again:
1. Peppers may have signed his tender, but this will be his last year as a Panther unless he has a complete change of heart.
2. Yes, DeMarcus Ware’s contract will top that of Albert Haynesworth’s because Ware is the game’s best defensive player, period.
3. The league will win this anti-trust lawsuit. Baseball won theirs in 1922 so I’m sure the Supreme Court will follow the same ruling.
4. The Pack is back (again). Their offense is terrific and I love what they’re doing on defense (Though I think the switch to the 3-4 is unnecessary).
5. I think the G-Men will take a step back this year. Next year, when Hakeem Nicks is ready to be a number one option they will compete for the Super Bowl again. But this year will be an off year.
6. I think because of the temporary step back the Giants are taking, the Cowboys and Eagles will compete for the Division title.
7. Speaking of teams that will take a step back, Atlanta I hoped you enjoyed your magical 2008.
8. I also think the Dolphins will take a step back, but it won’t be as big as Atlanta’s.
9. The Ravens should make every possible (yet reasonable) attempt to trade for Brandon Marshall. He would put the team over the top and into the Super Bowl.