Did America *really* forget about football? I did.

With the screwed up situations season-wise that ALL sports are facing as a result of COVID (ie. hockey is at semi-final stage, usually end by June) a *lot* of football prognosticators are going to be muttering in their beverage of choice regularly this year. Looking at the cuts from many teams (What do you mean “no kickers to start the year? They let WHO go?”), its going to be obvious that no preseason games to test talent (53 on roster, 16 on practice squad) will cause “why did we?” second thoughts by management and OMGs! from the public.

While it won’t be noticed if you leave early, nobody should snooze on the Panthers offense this year.

The Kansas City Chiefs (Super Bowl winners) should be relatively happy with whats coming from Mahomes after an MVP and Super Bowl last year. That massive contract for Mahomes will need fannies to buy online gear instead of hot dogs, and he’s one of the stars whose future the NFL would like to see actually work now, in the COVID era.

New Orleans still has Drew Brees for one more go-round (?), and if Panther fans feel last two years have ‘hurt’ here, consider “those two years” when the Saints were *great* and ONE play a year changed their fortunes. The ‘Whiff and the Whack’ I call them, with a non-tackle against the Vikings and an OBVIOUS pass interference/no flag deal against the Rams meaning the best team in football got beat on flukes.

Fond farewells and new Rhule’s are legitimate.

The post-Cam, Luke, Greg era has ended for the usual reasons, and fond farewells of course. I admit to liking Bridgewater as a distributor in this offense. He’s got plenty of arm, does the throws, if he’s paying extra attention to TE Manhertz, with Olsen gone, he or Ian Thomas should find catches. Anyone excited about Turner’s offense with McCaffrey, ‘Run CMC Y4’ will be leaving the station shortly. You know how valuable he’s been, congrats on the 1000-1000 deal and appropriate contract. The expectation is that Joe Brady’s O will turn Bridgewater, CMC and three sterling receivers (DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, Robby Thompson) into fantasy stat stars.

Coach Rhule laid out his – uhhh, feelings – about how prepared starters were for last Friday’s scrimmage (think lollygaggers shower scene in ‘Bull Durham’), and without knocking Rivera’s fairly stoic persona, he wasn’t complimentary about the effort and you KNEW about it for real. Not many, including self, are predicting better than 6-10 in 2020, but 7-9 would put polish on Rhule’s rep in doing turnarounds with somewhat dinged college programs (Temple, Baylor) quickly. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2020/04/28/cam-luke-greg-are-gone-will-defense-draft-be-the-answer/ As Mr. Tepper has noted, “He’s done more with less.”

Rhule brought his defensive guy from Baylor, Phil Snow, and if all the coaches will earn their paychecks, Snow’s defense simply HAS to make a difference. The 58 sacks last year was a change from the toothless year before, and there wasn’t a lot of second-guessing when Panthers had a first-ever all defensive (7) picks in draft. If not Christmas tree lit up, the secondary is going to be under duress all year, because Tom Brady will be a twice a year deal now, with Brees and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan as well.

SCORING – “Best defense (against losing) is a great offense,” could mean a couple 34 pt. afternoons are entertaining but don’t come out as wins. Effort will be there, expectations are somewhat lowered, but this won’t be a 1-15 crater that brought Cam Newton and had people selling their PSLs.

For Panther fans who still worry about Christian McCaffrey getting worn out, only if he carries that $21.4M signing bonus around.

Everybody gets to re-do their analysis after three games (right?), and fact the NFL is having ANY games at this point amazes me, although I’m aware its not “back to normal” either. A competitive 6-10 https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/12/30/ugly-2019-ends-with-questions-on-broken-d-head-coach-olsen-cam/, where Mr. Slye thumps a couple winners from 50+ on last play, or Moore-Samuel have snaky 60-yard runs, I’ll watch that.

I have no interest…

I’m not an expert about everybody else going into this mystery season, and truthfully, there are several I seldom care about :

Neither of the NY teams – They started regional telecasting sophomore year in college, so I got double-headers of sucko teams and have never recovered. The Washington Team (Snyder), LA Chargers (maybe with Rivers gone…), Cardinals (though hope Larry Fitzgerald has a great year, Year Two for Murray!) or Browns. (Hmmm, Fogg will bet on them…) Actively dislike the Bears, Lions (on general principles), meh on Broncos, Jaguars, Titans, even the Dolphins, although I wonder if Tua Tagovailoa will carve the NFL like he did for Alabama while becoming #2 overall pick.

Does Ben Rothliesberger have any gas left in the tank for Steelers, coming back from arm injury? How long does Tomlin want to keep grinding in the ‘Burgh? I’d sure like to see Drew Brees have a wild final (?) year with another Super Bowl, with all the records and beaucoup accolades for a Great Guy.

Yes, I will want to know how things in Tampa Bay work with future first ballot Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady at the controls, a bunch of quality receivers, and stud running back Leonard Fornette.

I was a sportswriter in Tampa during the early ’80s-Doug Williams days. Expect it will be easy to get bets with my cousin Frank at this point, and everybody likes a shootout, as long as its mutual. Putting Brady on his back makes it tougher for 43 y/old GOATs to throw, and I expect he’s okay with putting any of his considerable rep on the line with this challenge. This is like Gretsky going to LA Kings big. If I was a lineman for him or Brees, I’d *have* to play somewhat inspired.

Green Bay and Rodgers became what Dallas was for years, a rep for getting national exposure while obviously flawed, but 13-3 last year is still the standard for a really good team. Who know if its going to be another moaning about no D year, word is he wasn’t given any real help. Having seen what new Panther O-Coordinator Joe Brady did with #1 pick QB Joe Burrow (Cincinnati Bengals) at LSU, I assume he WOULD have put fannies in the seats, but generally I don’t sweat the Bengals. I used to like the Raiders, hated their bush league field.

Lamar Jackson – you DO know he’s 6’3″ with all that speed, right? That’s why Cam was such a monster, he’s all of 6’5.” All Lamar’s numbers are legit, give their organization credit for all in decision on offensive change -510 points, 31.9/per game means a lot. I don’t know what they have defensively. Always love those divisional battles with Steelers.

Cam vs. Bridgewater

One writer opined that 30 TD passes, plus 10 himself, would be an amazing year for Newton (duh!) in New England. If anyone in the Panthers org thought (although the $$$ factor was real) he could still run well enough to score that many, he’d still be a Panther. I like Bridgewater as an ideal distributor in this offense – with his touch passes, expect this offense to spread things to a talented, productive group.

Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, DJ Moore are high quality, and McCaffrey has always been known as an exceptional receiver. Anderson is another Rhule guy, whom he recruited to Temple, and he’s a great free agent addition from the Jets. DJ Moore already arrived in 2019: 87 catches for 1,175 yards/4 TDs, and he blossomed when Kyle Allen threw passes he could grab in stride vs. Newton’s ‘go there-turn around’ bullets. I *guarantee* you see ‘up’ passes in red zone to Anderson and Moore, with Moore getting 10+ TDs not much of a stretch.

With Curtis Samuel, he of the legendary speed and elusiveness, Panthers have a decent track team on the field, and having seen Turner’s offense run trick plays that maximized how tough they are to get on the ground – expect more, especially with Samuel. He is a beast to catch in space. Mr. Third Down, Jarius Wright, still in the house.

No more Greg Olsen, honestly, good luck in Seattle. We can only hope Thomas-Manhertz soaked up some of his disappearing ninja skills. As a community person of the highest order, a two-time finalist for the Walter Peyton ‘Man of the Year’ award, Greg repped Dad-hood, class, professionalism, caring to the max. Everyone was glad his son made it through the heart problems, and when he got “the right contract” after those three 1000 yd. seasons, especially when the foot injuries cropped up.

DEFENSE! Well…

Of 25 Panther coaches/assistants, new defensive coordinator Phil Snow is going to feel the most pressure to make a difference, and the fact is, there’s almost no place to go but up.

The Panthers weren’t the worst at anything, but the 470 (29.4 ppg) points they surrendered was ahead of only the Dolphins (494, 30.9 ppg). The 143.5 average they were gouged for on the ground beat only Cleveland (144.7), Washington, and Cincinnati’s (2-14) bottom of the list 148.9. Giving up 3,696 (231 yds. per game) by air looks better, with 19 teams – including 12-4 division winner New Orleans (3,868) – behind them.

That All-American defensive tackle Derrick Brown will play immediately is a given. Panthers were the worst (5.2 per rush) against the run in 2019. Edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos (6’5″, 265 lbs., Penn St.), Jeremy Chinn (safety, Southern Illinois), fourth-rounder Troy Pride, Jr. (CB, Notre Dame), Kenny Robinson (safety, West Virginia) will get real opportunities.

DT Derrick Brown from Auburn needs to be a BIG deal, not just Dontari Poe big either. Brian Burns had 7.5 sacks as a rookie and got bigger, but the secondary is still a scary unknown. If the Panthers KNEW Donte Jackson could actually close down one side, that would be a relief – it often seems he uses speed to got there AFTER the catch. Looking for that bloom in Year 3. Is Corn Elder ready?

None of the defensive facts noted in my year end analysis have changed, best bet for 2020 is “Take the over.”

Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/glennshorkey
https://cdtalententerprises.com/about
(704) 502-9947

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