America is truly on the move, sheltered-homeless a fact millions will be challenged with

Brother “Mike’N Stang” (and CharlieToo) is ready to roll right after the 4th. Fingers crossed for a couple nights sleeping in this vehicle in the yard.

What’s in your cards, these still legally UNITED States we’ve always loved? Pandemic safeguards will become forced mobility for housing soon? Friday I nailed down a 12’x10′, 4th bedroom in a good ranch-style home – rose bushes, new furniture, repaints happening, and the ability to store a small load of things for $100 deposit.

STORE – As in I can’t move in until July 1, and my brother hasn’t definitely said ‘yes’ to sleeping in the RV for, uhhh, several days after leaving the house tomorrow.

Me, 6/21/21

Just sayin’, there are various levels of success on the mass movement this country is going to experience in the near future. Many fear change and the unfamiliar – at least this time for me, its an easy lateral situation, very comparable to living with my brother.

Got the truck for tonight-plus

Mike wanted to move some 20′ sections of fencing pipe from his back yard (FYI, many turned out to be 28-30 feet!) so he’s splitting the cost of what I probably would have tried doing in two trips Monday night with a ten-foot truck and half the daily $39.95 + miles/gas for the twenty.

Rule #1 in moving: Whatever help you can round up, even one makes a difference.

My new place, after five years at my brother’s, is seven miles away, and there’s a good chance I’ll get a chance to use my golf clubs soon. Can’t honestly recall when I last even hit an $8 bucket…

Bonus point: Biking gets easier living even a little further out, I’m a little spoiled about getting on the Greenway behind the Hindu temple four blocks away, and rolling for 12 miles. That’s another point about moving, finding your good places to go for whatever gives you joy.

From just a week ago, things have turned out well, and in a timely manner for my necessary move, and that comes from consistent effort, nobody makes 20 calls for you. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/06/14/communications-customer-service-quality-content-writing-the-greatest-of-these-is-service/

There won’t be any way to avoid the pains of dislocation that are coming for many, but with a sigh of gratitude, I’ll echo the sentiment from here in the Carolinas and elsewhere, “I ain’t got a dog in that (need to find a place) fight,” at least not now.

I met the owner, a chattering good guy, and a second roommate, after brother and I quickly unloaded a decent amount of stuff into the garage last night. Now I’m working to find something more legitimate than crashing on a couch in a different living room for a bunch of nights if Mike and club pals don’t respond. I mean, it’s not 1978…

A very valid situation in 2021

This National Moving event that’s 2021 is a perfectly valid situation. Two days before I’ve got to be out, I still need to stash some stuff elsewhere, but things are actually breaking about 60% on my terms, especially economic. Because I’m working a plan, I’m not going to sweat being a relative statistic as – homeless.

The last time I had to exit an apartment on a deadline, I had five other post-poker playing guys, well after eleven, try to manuever my WATER BED out. At one point, wedged in the front door, it was obvious it wasn’t coming with me. Using the biggest knife from my butcher block set, we slashed it open and just kept pushing that bladder forward as it gushed.

After numerous previous moves, the base was crumbling, but man, those cold February mornings and nights in upstate NY, when I lived in the attic, that warm bed was GOLD, truly a difference maker as furniture.

Then or now, no place for it to go means, c’ya!

My MOST DRAMATIC move involved going to a rugby banquet until after nine, then clearing out everything possible into my Alliance – actually a terrific car for me – and driving to Troy, NY. Dramatic part was next morning, when fire engines gathering out in front of the building was because place next door was kind of smoking the area up.

I’d had a good time, then literally jumped from an economic fire into a literal one. Yeah, happy freaking Tuesday on that piece of history!

Got one better than that? Let’s hear it, but 2021, that’s moving along just fine, thanks.

Glenn S., 6/21/21

Right now I’m mildly worried about where a few items, like a three-tree potted palm might go, along with a last trunk and two boxes. And a half dozen picture frames. And these two cool portable wicker seats … I’m far less worried than last week though, when facts about a legitimate place to land lacked getting *somebody* to cooperate by calling back.

What comes, what doesn’t

At sixty-four, I’ve accumulated as much crap as anyone, but down-sizing to a room, not all the memories get to make any further trips. Know that I feel you at this time, America – I’ve been there, am again. My best advice is to channel your inner Matt Damon from ‘The Martian,’ an A-1 example of working through what has to happen next.

In ‘The Martian,’ Matt Damon quickly decides he’s got to “engineer the sh*t out of the situation” to survive. Moving isn’t nearly that tough.

It’s not brain surgery, it’s choices

Will it help my life the next 7 months? Yes-No, stay or go. Emotional weight though, that’s in the process. I’m donating a bunch of books to the library two blocks away, I hope I’m doing something worth while instead of just lightening my load.

The 200-year old upright secretary desk of pure, shiny brown, with slots and small drawers, and three drawers of storage that I cherished, went north with Mom’s cherry bedroom set (and a bunch of stuff Dave’s wife didn’t know was coming) back in early May. Nobody wanted that to wind up curbside.

Right now, I’m working from a 4-legged wooden card table that Uncle Leo made waaay back in the day, moved the half-filled cedar chest Mom refinished for my 25th birthday, and nightstand Dad won a blue ribbon for at the Florida State Fair. Things make the cut for personal reasons.

The folks bedroom set going to my niece Maria’s place in New York – she finally gets to attend her art institute for real – is a part of that life circle, passing things along. Stuff like yearbooks – or most of 20 years worth of hard cover journals I’ve written in – have to be jettisoned based on space and need. Here’s betting which brother winds up with Dad’s excellent smaller, hanging grandfather clock in the future.

I have ten of the bells I bought Mom for several years, its good to know nephew Ian even has a few of those from Mike’s china cabinet. If he’s got the good Waterford one, nice to know he has taste – make it an heirloom.

We’re going to have that terrific 4th of July people, hopefully near some water – its mid-summer hot here, and with essential moving done, some time for more baseball and maybe a date at the Whitewater Center.

May the times before and after that work out as well for my ‘on the move’ fellow Americans.

Good fortune to all in the upcoming search. Consider lighting a candle that they gain necessary help to find their way.

A good jump shot isn’t racist – having your throat choked helps focus the difference

I honestly hope my rugby mentor with the Schenectady Reds RFC, Dr. Julius R. ‘Skip’ Aycox III, is alive to read this, because his grabbing me by the throat for using the N-word made a difference the last thirty-five years.

Someone will have to show me a more macho game, and on the pitch, teammates color is about jerseys.

Now, “that word” was used in a sing-song style lots of close friends did in late 1970’s college, and I did it right after one of our team’s best players used it while talking to him, so getting clutched by the throat surprised me hugely.

“What? You didn’t do anything when Ted just said it!”

“He does it to try and upset me, and he can’t be changed. You I can help.”

When I moved to Charlotte in 1995, Carolina Panthers rookie QB Kerry Collins getting a black eye from his center sticks in my mind, smaller examples of “correcting behavior” compared to the massive upheaval this country experienced last year. Across the USA and beyond, George Floyd’s murder, at the knee of now-convicted white police officer, Derek Chauvin, had finally brought a specific reckoning.

The call to STOP! police brutality that continues to result – especially with young Black men – in violent death, literally echoed around the world. Not as significantly in certain parts of our Congressional representatives, but there have been large numbers of white faces available every step of the way.

I’ve lived most of my Boomer life believing we squared a lot of this stuff up during those wild ‘n crazy Seventies, but it’s time to step up again, do a booster shot, right’s still right. Remember thinking ‘Tricky Dicky’ was a real threat to our nation? It’s not every cops badge and gun we need to worry about, BUT… https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/01/18/smarter-than-average-bear-content-writing-boomer-replants-thought-leadership-flag-2021/

Without meaning to claim any special ‘wokeness,’ of course it’s time to consider walking in someone else’s shoes. It’s been part of the journalistic process since my HS days, and with all due credit for watching Ken Burns’ “Hemingway,” I appreciate it when people share the experience I’m putting on the page, too.

A guiding thought in my life process was a NYT Sunday Book section title, “Hemingway made his own hours.” Case closed, but now a few positive points on Attitude to set out.

Ideas recognized, ‘salt & pepper’ counts

White privilege?

Should I have to consider my willingness to walk into a Novant site around the corner from my house, on the way back from grocery shopping, ‘white privilege?’

While still only 64 and a Category-5 profile in North Carolina, I did exactly that, getting the Pfizer vaccine March 18th, a full two months earlier than I’d expected.

My May estimate was based on the trump administration having no actual stockpile of vaccine revelation, the number of distribution points at the time Joe Biden became President Biden, my birthday two days later being no real factor.

The nurse said they did 3,000 a day where I got mine. Reality at Novant was immediate – I’d barely started talking to a young lady with a laptop when a supervisor said, “Sure, let’s get you stuck.”

She also said, “You don’t ask, you don’t get” about Life. Pulling into that parking lot was taking the shot. Bazinga! But that was actually Novant #3 attempt. I’d also called Lancaster, SC about possible appointments when they were giving shots to 55+ there, long before things went into overdrive on options.

In early March, going to shoot baskets, I saw cars pulling in at McClintock (school), barely a mile from my brother’s house. Those “they had to use the extra shots” stories had been on TV, so I got in line and called my 65 yr/old brother about the possibility. Once a representative spoke to me directly about having accounted for any extra shots, I simply left to shoot baskets as planned.

Turns out, my bro apparently did some extra ‘yapping’/discussing about people in line, they couldn’t ALL be teachers, although when I’d checked earlier, all actually had after 4:00 appointments. When the (black) Novant rep delivered her message and I left, she came back out shortly thereafter, with a cop and two co-workers, apparently because she’d felt a little threatened.

Counting these as white privilege? I don’t rate it that way, just because I dropped in to a local unit and my brother didn’t get shot or manhandled for extra commentary. It was handled appropriately, and when he admitted why he was already back when I returned, I said yeah, I can imagine her feeling ‘something,’ based on what I’d heard.

Fact: Upset about his “65 and waiting until an April appointment!” status vs. those in line, he called Novant and wound up with a first shot (Moderna) the next Tuesday.

Freedom Park hoops with Rahim

Basketball ability is a legitimate baseline for judging another person, because its understood I’m talking about us, not LeBron, right? Black/white/whatever, female/older-cagey vet or wannabe, when we’re keeping score, how you perform reflects on whether we get to keep running the court, right? Save the yackety-yak, unless you got the chops to back it. High school doesn’t count here. Make it, take it.

Do not call stupid little fouls, especially if you’re the only ‘salt.’ I was playing tennis the morning I saw a wiry kind of rec-speced white dude take an old-school boat hook forearm right across the chops after some of that. Started right below the nose, the glasses kind of proving their worth. To be honest, I’d heard the yapping…

Oh, and it’s not racist to say everyone wants a piece of the white guy in a gorilla-ball game, where its all against all. Best thing to do is make up to three free throws after scoring a basket, reduces time banging heads with dudes for rebounds. Sticking a knee into a thigh, jacking a butt, or getting my money’s worth on a hack in the lane before a guy finishes his move, kind of a specialty. Being soft, waiting for a rebound instead of guarding someone closer, its not a label I ever had. Only brother of four under six-foot, I’ll let you know I’m back there.

We’ve got 7-8 guys in a gorilla game, one of them finally holds onto the ball, looks at me and says, “What are you doin’ here?” and I said, “I’m with Rahim.” Everybody there knew Rahim, a central figure way beyond the current game at the other end for sure. As others looked over, Rahim came out from the lane and *volleyballed* a guy’s 3-pt. shot out of bounds.

Couple minutes later, he calls me over, tells another player, “You’re out.” You have to be confident in your skills AND manhood at that point. Having a scorer’s touch always counts, like tucking putbacks in and making sure the big dogs get their touches, because you truly are repping white guards right then.

“No blood, no foul” is a legit guideline, and sh*t yeah, its better to give than (just) receive contact. Don’t embarrass yourself or your host is a Man Thing that crosses color-cultural.

Real Rahim, such a monster figure, I actually use him in my books, and yes, it’s good to be easy and right with people across a spectrum. Last night it was Karina, waiting in line together for a beer at Camp North End celebration https://www.camp.nc/events, it felt soooo rightly social with jazzy Spanish-centric music.

She appreciated my being able to say “I have two courses of Spanish at CPCC, but 10 years ago…” It was many people’s first time there, plenty of family and music, but out of beer and everything else before 9:00 – guy in front of me literally got the last cup of wine. That sort of goodness – plus more beer – is EXACTLY what builds communities.

‘What abouts?’ Four quick thoughts

At one of the Communities in Schools programs I think so highly of, https://www.cischarlotte.org/ helping HS seniors write better letters for scholarship money, I had an opportunity to listen to and speak with two young Black men. My straight up message was to let them know how different-better it was to talk with young people who weren’t using ummm, errrr, and you know every other word, was a legitimate asset.

“I noticed it and told you so, and every other adult you’ll meet will notice, too.” A positive affirmation is easy. What individual meetings with fertile minds can accomplish 1:1 *always* counts.

I got the same degree of change in attitude at a lunch meeting with perhaps eighty military people. They weren’t just trigger pullers like my Uncle Howard had been in the Pacific – this luncheon was about job search, and they KNEW what their ratings said they were qualified to do. When I admitted about being way off on that attitude to the gentleman next to me, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Nicolas ‘Chris’ Short told me about being Rumsfeld’s top kick at the Dept. of Defense. Definitely not just a trigger-puller.

Two last facts

Our Linton High Class of ’75 didn’t get to have its 45th reunion in 2020. At the 40th I’d decided to go into real estate, but waiting for a 50th, there’s no telling how many of us Forever Young Boomers might still be around for that. We might get it done this year, I dunno.

Paging through the yearbook, which our Journalism program put together – Take a bow, Liz Nealon, as Editor, your handwriting is all over it – I counted 20 Black seniors in a class of 540. If anyone wants to check me on that, fine. We also – can you believe it – let freshman (brother David) in that year.

Nobody’s brought it up that I know of, but at the time of 25th (2000) I know I wasn’t the only person who wondered if we’d be FORCED to have future reunions with the people from cross-town Mont Pleasant HS. Declining enrollment in Schenectady had forced a merger, at the Linton campus, but “we” didn’t particularly want to have an evening together with them.

I’ve mostly mellowed on the melding…it just took 46 years.

In 2021, I’m hoping to catch up to Scotty Grayman, Bobby Mazz – anybody know about Lussier? – and a couple dozen (probably not you, Malitz…) others. Here’s hoping we have it at Saratoga Racetrack instead of indoors – wasn’t that the plan? Let’s see if old people can agree on August fun instead of traditional Thanksgiving, just for starters.

Panthers take care of business – GM Fitterer lands QB Darnold to get rolling

Without burying the lead, Panthers GM Scott Fitterer made an impression with his first major move, delivering pretty much the arch-typical Hollywood story of a QB unloved getting moved to a new place, where he flourishes as The Guy We Needed.

That would be Signal Caller and Arm version, CMC will be back on Ground Attack. It could be a video game-type stats year when a highly motivatd McCaffrey gets paired with a quarterback that can make all the throws. Newton threw nothing but fastballs, Kyle Allen and Teddy B. knew how to lead receivers, putting DJ Moore in elite company and making Curtis Samuel kind of rich. It was the obvious need and Fitterer put up a mission accomplished sign.

Good young QBs traditionally get torn up, because they often went to worst teams to start careers.

  • Vinny Testeverde, Heisman winner, to Tampa Bay Bucs. He said he threw so many picks because he was color blind – Tampa had orange jerseys, the same as his collegiate team, UMiami.
  • You can get more local – Chris Weinke, 2000 Heisman winner, Carolina Panthers. https://www.heisman.com/heisman-winners/chris-weinke/ The only thing he couldn’t do was lift the Panther from a shipwreck win-loss season. He wound up with stats that triggered incentives for yards, TDs, total snaps, and they hadn’t invented the $5MM Backup then.

The bigger problem was, he’d played six years of minor league baseball before going back to college at 26! Those were glory years at FSU, but on the calendar, Weineke was almost thirty quickly. Terrific passer, but Panthers gave the keys to a caretaker, Rodney Peete, instead.

I didn’t care about Sam Darnold with the Jets. “Everybody” knows he was #3 overall pick three years ago out of USC, and sorry to say, high pick QBs often go to ungood teams. Major points, has to be said: His former Jets coach, Adam Gase, has been kind of a talent killer with quarterbacks, and Robbie Anderson coming to Panthers last year meant Darnold couldn’t throw to him in New York.

Darnold wasn’t wanted where he was, the Panthers definitely wanted more from the role than 15 TD/11 INT production Teddy Bridgewater put out as a $21MM caretaker. The price in draft picks was nominal, Panthers problem (theoretically) solved.

It has to be said: His former Jets coach, Adam Gase, has been kind of a talent killer with quarterbacks, and Robbie Anderson contributing to Panthers last year https://www.panthers.com/team/players-roster/robby-anderson/ meant Darnold couldn’t throw to him in New York.

Just so happens the Panthers have a resident genius with quarterbacks – Sam, Joe Brady; Joe, Sam.

Mr. Tepper took care of business

Having seen something by sportswriter Ian Rapaport about New York taking the new guy in Carolina to the shed on his first deal – Sam Darnold ain’t a busted down mule. The asking price – a #6 in upcoming draft, a #2 and #4 next year – isn’t anywhere near the mother lode Minnesota gave Dallas for Herschel Walker in October, 1989.

Heck, the Rams and Lions recently moved a bunch of #1 draft picks around, and the Panthers wanted/needed a #1 thrower so bad, they were in the sweepstakes for DeShaun Watson, but his $177MM contract cooled most potential takers. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/02/05/watson-would-work-wonders-for-panthers-25-free-agents-a-concern/

Fact about Mr. Tepper, he’s already analyzed factors relative to what he expects the Panthers to be as a product, and there’s no reason to change his tactics. He invested in facilities, and absolutely, bought some REALLY good football minds in Head Coach Rhule, Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady, and Defensive Coordinator, Phil Snow. He gave Christian McCaffrey a contract like his production rated.

A season after having iconic players like Newton, Kuechly, and Olsen depart, the Panthers had three-1,000 yard gainers – none of them named McCaffrey – and the defense moved from bottom three in almost every category to 18th overall, with a secondary that was right on the league average in yardage. Without Watson’s contract, the offensive line will get paid – four were part of 25 Panther free agents.

In 2021, Darnold is set to get $4.775MM, and team will have to decide about picking up a 5th year option in May for another $18MM, making him marginally more expensive than Bridgewater. It’s a two-for (years) that’s not tough math for Tepper or Fitterer.

Give the Panthers very high marks for respecting Teddy Bridgewater, who they’ll allow to possibly make his own deal elsewhere.

Resurrection on the Cheap

In a season-year that will be more memorable for playing before empty seats, the Panthers were an entertaining 5-11 bunch that let at least two games slip away late (Minnesota was the worst). On a team where playoffs would have been on the line, the injuries McCaffrey suffered, and mostly recovered from, might have pushed them to use their $21.3MM man late, but there was no reason to test ‘the franchise.’

Most Panther fans have moved on from Cam Newton thoughts, and I thought Bridgewater did a decent job distributing most of the year, but 15/11 are numbers that don’t lie. Kyle Allen had 17/15 the year before (yeah, and those fumbles) and didn’t get invited back. We’ll see if Mr. Samuel finds someplace to use his special skills, he was fun to watch.

So the business of the Carolina Panthers is moving forward. Mr. Fitterer appears to have put a satisfactory conclusion to the question of who’s going to run this team, on and off the field. As for that New York thing, heck, LOT of us will probably say, “Gawd bless ‘im, he must feel like he’s made it to the promised land,” and leave it at that.

Our Pierogi Dinner was about collaboration, but food related events won’t return soon

There is plenty of collaboration in successful community events, its even easier with Zoom and Trello.

My community group has historically done large eating-oriented events that brought out 600-800 paying customers, often (over) filling the school cafeteria. Our fish fries have been legendary forever, Oyster Roasts an October tour de force our members and others loved.

The original pierogi event came from one member (Stephen Fogg), who suggested it as a substitute for a not well-attended spaghetti night in late January. Noting that, “Every Catholic church in Cleveland has pierogi dinners every Friday in Lent,” was math many former Yankees in our club could imagine. He served about 50 of us those buttery, cheese and potato filled Polish delicacies, what most describe as like ravioles. For many, it was comfort food from childhood.

It’s truly a Collaborative Process

We decided to do a test run the week before the dinner, and besides cooking the kielbasa and slivered onions that would make workers familiar with production tasks and timing, we made 1200 kolacky cookies. It took about 2 1/2 hrs. dedicated effort, turning balls of dough into, smaller, thin squares, dab a blob of jelly in the middle and fold cookies.

Those cookies were THE inspired hit. Only two at a time rationing, unforgettable. We were short of *everything,* bought out the nearby Harris Teeter on supplies, including turkey kielbasa, more onions, and sour cream.

https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/11/06/pierogis-as-content-collaboration-success-model/ I’ve used this as ‘thought leadership’ several times. From first presentation of pierogi possibility to counting the dollars that went with massive group pride in the successful operation, it was four months total. The speed of ‘best practices’ collaboration between remote workers involved in any project today hits a ‘reach out and touch’ standard with Zoom.

When our marketing, essentially just church bulletins as far as Rock Hill, produced wild response, people coming down the stairs at 5:01, we started ringing the register at all levels. Customer satisfaction? Highest rating every time.

Like the Oyster Roast (October) and what had been a 34-year tradition of selling Christmas trees starting after Thanksgiving, we’re not doing pierogies this year, and didn’t last year, because really good crowds are not how we break COVID-19’s grip on being together.

Fogg & minions= collaboration

Job Two Counts Big

That means, at the most basic level of collaboration, masking up as an act together for a common goal. Call it best practices overall, IMHO, Pandemic is Job One.

Job Two is putting some economic levers back into full play, and WFH (work from home), the ability of not-in-the-same-place talents to be immediately and easily incorporated into a creative flow, has proven that connectivity and productivity can maintain high standards.

Naysayers might point to ‘job encroachment syndrome’ or something similar, because widely diffused sources don’t always slot easily with time on task vs. ‘dark hours.’ For every ‘The Intern,’ where a go-go executive learns the human cost of constantly being ON regarding business, you’ll find dozens who have found a rhythm they can live with.

Perhaps not including those who swapped drive time with at home schooling concerns, or might have to consider paycheck alterations – If we’re ALL tele-commuting, sending contributions to a central point, able to SEE the results in real time, should there be a location differential?

There isn’t a room full of Mad Men-style creatives down the hall any more. Whole operations are dedicated to the proposition of lots of people doing pieces, with a use ’em and lose ’em financial philosophy.

Rhule could have successful 6-10 season, solid Panthers ‘D’ spoils WFT’s NFC East drive

Absolutely nothing about the stats from this next to last game of the season will cause NFL scoreboard watchers to change their minds about either the Panthers losing record, or that *someone* has to win the NFC East. The Panthers received enough good pieces offensively, and victimized the Washington Football Team’s Dwayne Haskins (two INTs, 1 fumble, 154 yds. passing) defensively in a 20-13 victory, although Washington still controls their playoff destiny.

For those who worried about Christian McCaffrey getting “used up” after last year, and being offensively awesome the last two years, you sort of got your wish in 2020.

While RB Mike Davis (14/28 yds, TD) has played effectively, and Teddy Bridgewater (19/28, 197 yds, 1/1 TD-INT; 3,557 yards for season) has been a terrific distributor to all of Joe Brady’s offensive options, operationally the team protected its asset for the lion’s share of the 2020 season. If CMC was on a Rams team with playoff hopes, he’d have been back weeks ago – but at what risk of injury was a primary consideration for the Panther organization.

There’s not a specific right or wrong to the decision, and surprisingly, there wasn’t any hue or cry to saddle CMC back up along the way, ankle or not. Mr. Tepper is a businessman of the highest order, and putting Matt Rhule at the coaching helm involved as serious an investment contract-wise as McCaffrey. He’s a billionaire who handed his new coach a six year contract, and adding a proven, exceptional, 100% right weapon to the mix they’ve developed, there’s plenty to think about over the winter.

If you heard Rhule’s done some remarkable turnarounds with a couple college programs – Tepper noted “He’s done plenty with a lot less” – that attitude is still on track. Like COVID-19 and current travel negatives, letting the offense grow through the strain may pay dividends when actual fannies are in the seats in 2021.

Betting with house money: Give an A+ Achiever-type like McCaffrey a season to think about how he’s going to prove he deserves the cha-ching! from extension, he’ll be back strong. He’s literally not broke – I saw the shoulder injury; that ankle, always tricky to figure – but he won’t need to be on the field 90% of the snaps if the Panthers take care of Davis and free-agent-to-be Curtis Samuel.

This was a strange year for everything, playing in almost empty stadiums. Sunday night, in the snow at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, less than 1,000 front line health workers and families got to be in the stands, as Aaron Rodgers polished his MVP cred. Quite a few more were willing to take their chances with the Chiefs to see Mahommes.

METRICS of Improvement

Having predicted 6-10, seeing a Panthers defense that’s done WAY better than last year is gratifying. In 2019, the floodgates opened wide, the long adored, QB-sacking, unblockable D of Kuechly and Davis demonstrably gone, giving up 470 points and 29.4/game.

New defensive coordinator Phil Snow arrived from Baylor with Rhule, and while the offense is barely a point better this year without McCaffrey (22.9 ppg, 23rd), the defense is ranked 18th of 32, giving up almost five less points (24.6/game) in 2020, when only the lowly Dolphins were worse.

Quick question: The Browns are 10-5, the Panthers 5-10. Who’s going to feel worse if they fail to make the playoffs because FOUR receivers were benched with COVID protocol, after they hot-tubbed together?

That’s a gratitutous question – how about Jeremy Chinn (110 tackles) for Defensive Rookie of the Year? While playing on the same field as Washington’s DE Chase Young, the #2 overall pick last year, he notched eight tackles to Young’s four, and while Young caused and recoverd a fumble, Chinn’s hybrid safety-linebacker role had THE defensive series of the year several weeks ago, scoring touchdowns on consecutive plays.

2020 offense effective, not ‘magic’

What’s not to like about Bridgewater, Robby Anderson, DJ Moore, and the leap in market value Curtis Samuel has taken this year, where four catches for 109 yards, and 7/52 rushing sounds like he’s gotten the sort of exposure that might otherwise have been directed at the treasured standard, McCaffrey? Does he NEED to be on the field 90% of snaps?

Bridgewater has even shown the willingness to leave the pocket and get yardage with his legs, a very different perspective after former Panther star QB Cam Newton’s last two years, when his size and speed advantages seem to have disintegrated. While Newton staggered to his 12th rushing TD of the season for the Patriots, https://patriotswire.usatoday.com/2020/12/29/cam-newton-wowed-with-this-rushing-touchdown-vs-the-bills/ he has 5 TDs and 10 INTs passing on the year, and based on the Bills secondary KNOWING he couldn’t get it down the field – the same situation as Cam’s last two years in Charlotte – he is probably done in the NFL.

Mike Davis impressed early, and his running with a chip on shoulder toughness also set a standard for the team. He’s racked up over 1,000 offensive yards, 652 keeping defenses honest on the run, and was a fine free agent signing, as was Robby Anderson (from Jets) by (again) departing General Manager, Marty Hurney. Whether Hurney is being moved out after giving McCaffrey a bonus-heavy contract extension before a season of small production is less likely than how Cam Newton’s payout with Patriots worked.

Hurney previously left after it seemed he’d overpaid on contracts for some fan favorites, but CMC’s value is unquestioned – and Hurney didn’t make that decision by himself.

Watching the offense move the ball consistently and with such variety at times became the essence of home town cheering, and expectations were they’d keep things interesting even though the defense might cost them games. Since the common draft started in 1967, the Panthers became the first team to use all seven selections for defensive players this spring, including #1 pick DT Derrick Brown, then traded up to make Chinn their second, 2nd round pick. The results weren’t questioned at the time, and a replenished secondary seems more capable.

The 33-31 loss to the Chiefs and Mahomes did nothing to disappoint the idea Panthers could score, even during a five-game losing streak. They held the Cards Kyler Murray in check, blew opportunities against the Broncos with dumb penalties, and let the Vikings game get away from them 28-27. https://www.espn.com/nfl/recap?gameId=401220302 Optimism isn’t gauche, there’s a sense Charlotte has perhaps seen the worst of times, that “The Buckle on the Bible Belt” won’t become like Detroit, where Lion’s GM Matt Millen’s reign was, well, almost legendary lousy compared to Hurney.

A home finale against the Saints for that important sixth win for Panthers will be worth watching , but sorry, I’m a fan of #9 as GOAT, with due respect to Mr. Brady and all his rings. I really like the home team, but Drew is about out of chances to get another ring, and while he might stay on the sidelines if there’s no possible change in seeding, HE sure isn’t taking anything for granted in 2020.

Interesting stat: The Panthers have used their #1 pick on QBs twice – Kerry Collins early, and of course, Cam Newton in 2011 – since landing the franchise in 1994. If you’re concerned that Teddy Bridgewater isn’t ‘the guy,’ Washington has used twelve #1 picks on quarterbacks (over 75 years), and the last one that really worked out was Sammy Baugh, their leader for 16 years – until 1953. https://www.profootballhof.com/players/sammy-baugh/ Chicago and Detroit have been unblessed with major talent there in a lot longer than 20 years Tom Brady ruled in New England. Five or six wins will put the Panthers past a time to get another franchise quarterback in the draft

If you can’t remember how last season looked at the end, https://cdtalententerprises.com/2020/04/28/cam-luke-greg-are-gone-will-defense-draft-be-the-answer/

Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises

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

Scholarship essay writing, CIS event-vols put focus on “better,” 500 words at a time

There were three important factors for my joy in participating in a Communities in Schools program Saturday morning, one of which has something to do with the view from Grandfather Mountain.

20190630_131300That I’m contacted for this is optimal “Social Capital” (time, effort, “being”), and to utilize my professional skills for a specific four-hour gig, working with already accepted HS students to write better essays as part of scholarship money applications, is right at the top of Satisfying.

I’m not a parent, but seeing my suggestions immediately and directly acted on, is affirming. That those changes *will* make a difference, that floats my boat.

The short time commitment shows both the respect CIS has for professional availability, and is a testament to how focused on the difference they recognize this time – essentially 1.5 hours online – can make.

The two dozen or so students who attended  the Access Granted Workshop at Philllip O. Berry – Academy of Technology, also learned about online sites that described available scholarships for another important aspect, “Where?” such money might be.

Essays often ask for response to ‘catastrophic’

The standard 500 word essays scholarship applicants are asked for usually focus on something catastrophic that happened in their lives, and what they did about it. The standard throughout most of my writing career has been “a good hook” in that first paragraph, and that’s more important in essays than the click value that emphasizes titles and subheads for readability now.

One simple step to improve almost everyone’s letter writing is to break up huge blocks of print. Yes, reading train-of-thought style for 26 lines will always look daunting, and people who have to do it LOTS of times for their jobs might miss whats in the sauce…

It’s just a good idea to start a new paragraph for visual relief, and its not a bad thing to even add an extra line. Knowing how ‘real world’ applications for company sites can be very unfriendly to submissions that are less than pro forma, be willing to go back through and edit. The extra effort to go back and change 6-comma, run-on sentences into two real ones with periods, plus that comment you thought of after finishing, usually feels like a small reward.

New thought, new paragraph, even if its only a significant one liner.

“I intend to go to Howard or some other HBC (Historically Black Colleges), because several people I respect a lot have talked about what it meant to them.” -Kai.

Confidence in the communicating

Having discussed the last line of  the business card I gave several kids, they were amused about “Smarter than the average bear” writer, which is explained at the top of my landing page.  While I hold Matt Damon in “The Martian” as a high end example, I state that having done a variety of projects, I’m confident about being better than Yogi, the one-trick bear, who only stole picnic baskets. Its a sense of self 17-18 years olds don’t easily recognize.

The “catastrophic” change for Kai was his mother – who he’d always lived with – taking a job in Maryland when he was twelve, and he stayed in Charlotte with his Dad, who he’d seen frequently, but only stayed with periodically. He said the change in parental styles was a very different world, that it affected him to the point where he got his first ever C’s before he finally figured things out.

So how long did that take? “Like a whole semester!”

I told him about going from Catholic grade school to public school in 8th grade, also getting my first C’s ever. I sloughed off instead of excelling, because I was way ahead at that point. The challenge had been going against the same peer group for better grades – get one wrong on a test, they had a better A.

In Kai’s case, he didn’t recognize the strength of having gotten BACK to all A’s so quickly. I was not the same student in that environment, but in his self-grading, he’d messed up. In describing how he put together a booklet for National Honor Society, he breezed past the fact 1) He did the app early, so it wouldn’t be hanging over him and 2) once he knew what they were looking for and how the process went, he began helping others put their stuff together.

Those he helped referred him to others, sometimes he gets paid for tutoring.

There HAS to be room in any essay for something like that.

Note to others: Just because you’re writing *about* yourself, doesn’t mean you need to include extraneous material that causes readers to think negatively. Keep any story simple, centered.

Something to help everyone

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This is the schizzle as an aid to all essay writers.

A Scoring Rubric for Scholarship Essay Questions was such a good, specific thing to have handed out, I don’t think there can be anything wrong with including it here.

There are four categories, based on point values (10,5,1,0).  The “quality” of the content is considered in terms of progressive excellence in structure and story-telling

’10’ is for what would be considered an Exceptional answer, based on five criteria, such as having a strong central focus to the answer, with sentences clear and varied, using appropriate vocabulary, complete sentences, and minimal mechanical errors.

5 point “qualities” would include using appropriate details, with clear and correct sentence structure and revealing some “character,” again with few mechanical errors.

0 Points, not meeting expectations – Not answering the question, little development of the topic (short answers), the POV is confusing instead of recognizing the sense of “audience” they might be writing to, and punctuation, slang, text style, undeniably not proofread.

While consistently making myself available for events like this and some elementary school reading programs, it still feels great to impart long-term expertise so cleanly with a one-one focus.

A personal philosophy is to not try lifting all of society a gazillionth of an inch, but when kids put in extra time to improve their skills – and its the reason I love Hugh O’Brian Youth’s three-day leadership program – I’ll try passing along some best practices.

In Yogi’s words, “Hey hey, Boo-Boo, now you’re smarter than the average writer too!”

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Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises 
(704) 502-9947

“Smarter than…” a simple line easily remembered

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START posting meaningful articles, videos, podcasts, or blog posts. Put them on LinkedIn, your blog site, link to them from your FB and Twitter accounts, etc. Again, to qualify as meaningful, in this context, they need to display that you are a good person AND you have valuable professional knowledge and skills that will benefit others.

This message implies that your skills and knowledge will benefit potential employers. Some of your posts may tell stories from your work history where your past employer benefited greatly from your exploits. (Tom Sheppard – Playing Hard to Get, 11/07/19)

Periodically, with alllll the possibilities that doing even a little online surfing can provide, there is a “thank you” moment for tapping a YouTube environmental piece, learning exactly all you need to know about a specific something, maybe reading the rest of what wrapped around the essence of being a better blogger, according to Mr. Sheppard.

If its not ‘Good to Great’ (Collins) or ‘The ONE Thing’ (Gary Keller) management theory writ strong, Sheppard is around my mantra that pretty much everything that goes online or is presented in response to any gig is a small referendum on my abilities.

SEO content writing doesn’t have to be above eighth grade level, but whatever the purpose, my regular job is hitting the voice a potential client wants. Yes,  bloggers will tell historical stories that match well with situations where “fixing” similar pain resulted.  Readers want “meaningful.”

That is elemental marketing – I’ve got what you need. Just lookie here.

A simple line everyone remembers

The last line on my business card is “Smarter than the average bear” writer, and everyone I’ve given it to knows the basics – Yogi stole all the picnic baskets in JellyStone Park. The variety of situations I’ve adapted “writing” to is far less than Matt Damon’s creativeness with technology in ‘The Martian,’ but I’m confident about being ahead of the one-trick bear is the explanation I lock in.

Does everything I do have to glow with imperial splendor? Naaah, but it does represent me. I’ve just recently started working with video, and you can Google how to do anything, right? That’s another line everyone remembers, “You can Google that.” My youngest brother hits sixty this year, over the last three years, he’s relied on that in becoming a damn fine worker on BMWs. Just sayin’…

Capturing the simple makes a difference

In a couple weeks, the second time around with a Communities in Schools program, I’ll be helping high school seniors who have already been accepted to a college write better letters for scholarship money.  This is about passing on the idea of how capturing the simple makes a difference.

We all know people skim instead of read, right?

Readability counts. How shorter paragraphs break up large blocks of print, give the readers eyes a break, that’s easy to impart. “Use periods” is obviously useful to remember, and stopping the 6-comma, train-of-thought-OMG! run-on sentence is ALWAYS better writing.

Yes, one liners and subheads can be effective.

The Communities in Schools program where imparting some nuggets of editing and making things work better word-wise is a Keep It Straight, Simple moment for me. Getting tapped to help goes directly to my expertise, and its a four-hour session with these kids that includes hot breakfast during meet-and-greet. Last year, about two dozen showed up, and there were enough volunteers that we could double up. 

One scholarship my person (Rachel) picked as a possibility was LAWA (Latin Americans Working for Achievement) – and I knew I had the Executive Director’s business card on my desk. Watching my suggestions being immediately incorporated into her standard letter, hearing how this super-smart girl wanted to eventually lead a Doctors Without Borders unit, it was elementary to write a letter of recommendation for her.

That’s how simple things can be. Mr. Sheppard struck a chord for me. If the possibility of volunteering is what you got from this piece, that’s worth thinking about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practical communication makes a point – for politics, pierogis, poker, and pooches

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While his destroying three sleeping pads by tearing them apart and distributing the insides like this was uncool, getting into my salad bowl required direct messaging.

Perhaps I’m working the P’s a little hard, but historically its one of the things (along with Q’s) we’re supposed to pay attention to.

The point is, whether you’re a communications specialist, content creation writer, blogger, or pet owner, its legitimate to be aware of how any messages are coming through for the intended parties.

While his pushing a bowl around the kitchen like Snoopy, or positioning himself near the front door for immediate petting works for CharlieToo, the swat with a folded newspaper was a simple, hopefully received and understood message I sent yesterday.

Yes, that set off some loud “messaging” with my brother, but I didn’t need to hear about a beagle’s acute sense of smell (again). I’d left the room for thirty seconds to get a beverage, and returned to find several spinach leaves outside the bowl, left well away from the edge of the kitchen table. My message to both was I wasn’t allowing such behavior with my food, and if the bro needed to get discipline classes for his dog, I could still handle some baseline corrections right then.

Poker night and commitment

Having decided to restart Hold ’em poker nights with two subsets of friends, notices were sent to twenty guys about the timing, BYOB and chili situation, cost ($20 to start, re-buys, and chip-up), and directions embedded. All information, starting three weeks before the event, was sent by e-mail and followed up with by text several times.

Two days after the stated deadline for confirmation, there were only four “can’t make it” responses, which is when my ‘no-go’ decision was made.

One ‘yes’ indicated he’d pick up an outlier (who had bailed), one said (at pierogi dinner Friday) he’d come, but I’d already decided to wait and try again next month. One was upset he’d driven by the house – and left three phone messages – without knowing it was canceled, although he hadn’t confirmed when we worked two nights on the prep and pierogi dinner.

While statistically that’s *about* a 30% response, the reality is most similar events will die without a predetermined level of positive commitment. This was easy to track, doing so with blog results is what makes it a business.

Pierogi pickups, oompah! band, and networking

For the first two hours of our group’s second hugely successful pierogi dinner, I worked the take out table. Unfortunately, once I’d gotten through a first pan of those slathered in butter Polish delicacies filled with cheese and potato, and fried onions aplenty, there was a period when the product didn’t come regularly enough to diminish the line of customers.

Although I sent messages with group members who came by, only drips and drabs came though for about half an hour – and somehow it wasn’t a problem

The great part of communications came with the realization that the 15 people standing in line understood I’d done what I could. Every single one was happy when the pans started flowing regularly and they got hot, tasty containers of food – including sauerkraut, garlic bread, kielbasa – and some had never tried a pierogi before!

Did giving the last klochy cookie to one little girl, just before another tray appeared, work out righteously? Yep, it showed we cared, as did giving a piece of kielbasa to anyone who wanted to munch it waiting in line.

Doing my usual “schmoozing” around the tables a little later, it was great to learn that everyone appreciated the evening at all levels – not a single cross word, even though some had waited in a line around the cafeteria before getting served and seated.

When asked, “Did everyone get enough to eat?” smiles and “Great job, you guys!” and testimonials about how many of our (St. Gabriel Men’s Club) other community feedings they’d attended were gratifyingly glowing. Okay, “free beverages” and dancing to a lederhosen-garbed oompah band might have a little to do with that glow, but a $36 family price works wonders, too.

The best communication for me though? The very last couple I talked with went 20191214_200810exceptionally well. She was a physical therapist, so we discussed my two year old knee replacement, and her husband had done a little knocking around for two years before establishing himself as a management efficiency expert with restaurants. When I gave him my card, and explained some of what CDTalent Enterprises did writing-wise, he asked if I’d tried using a particular agency and recruiter, who had kept him busy during his knock around days.

THAT is the essence of networking, finding a commonality and helping each other with additional contacts. If you’re still worried about just talking to someone at a gathering, networking doesn’t have to be in a suit with your name plastered on a lapel.

POLITICS

For what its worth, Trump’s impeachment trial starts today, and IMHO, a *lot* more people will be dissatisfied with how that’s handled than how my lack of pierogies Friday night affected them. While I heard one of our guys pontificating that, “He’s going to be re-elected, you guys are wrong, case closed!” I’ve learned that its impossible to get a reasonable message through to some people, and walking away from situations is the best way to handle negative communications.

Unfortunately, the option of swatting them with a folded newspaper probably won’t get the intended message through.

Panthers, Ruhle’s attitude of truth-respect a great analogy to ‘imminent’ message suspicion

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According to new coach Ruhle, “Running and stopping the run, making big plays and stopping big plays” – meaning DEFENSE – will be part of sustained excellence in Charlotte.

Panther fans are obviously feeling soooo much better about how owner David Tepper handled matters of concern with his football franchise and new coach Matt Ruhle, compared to a different message on ‘facts’ coming from every direction about the how and why of a possible or averted Mideast confrontation between the US and Iran.

As a content creation professional, sports fan, and human being, an important part of everything I do relies on listening and hearing what others put forth as either facts or attitudes.  The idea our country was very possibly being thrust into a war over “imminent danger” was far too easy to question when honesty and straightforwardness has never been part of the Trump administration.

Regarding Mr. Tepper’s decisiveness, nobody questions the idea of “Trust the process” and that he’s actually gotten a “best and brightest”-type guy in the right place. Even if the price tag – over $60 million for seven years is the initial word – might seem exceptional for a guy whose career record in moving two college programs our of the doldrums is still only 47-43, its his money to spend.

Its doubtful that 40% of any Panthers ‘base’ wanted any less dramatic change. Tepper didn’t just ‘take a bad guy off the field’ in a reckless way, he made a guy with winner tendencies and a philosophical depth of belief in people an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Its an easy analogy to get your arms around

While its almost impossible to put politics totally aside after the stress of possible war after the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Solemani, most fans in Charlotte will – after tonight’s “Tiger Tussle” between Clemson and LSU for the national championship – be ready to consider impeachment and whatever else 2020 has in store. Most are hoping for fairness on both situations.

To say a lot of people won’t be happy with either outcome, be it win-lose or impeach-let a dangerous person continue as a leader, is a stark reality.  What we see on the stage from Democratic candidates Tuesday, or exactly what happens after Wednesday in the Senate, its going to be a start of a tougher, longer than 60 minutes process. That the latter is quite a bit more important, well, that *might* be true for Tiger fans, but as voters, millions will have more input about matters beyond what happens in Atlanta.

In a better focused set of circumstances for Charlotteans of all stripes, be it birth or just the adopted home of more recent arrivals, Matt Ruhle’s becoming the replacement to Ron Rivera as Panthers head coach counts bigly.

Charlotte lost its love for George Shinn (and Bob Johnson’s Bobcats) over matters of what they expected from the citizens beyond the economics of ticket support and the product on the court. The hometown crowd was also stunned at everything regarding Mr. Richardson’s situation that led to his selling the team to Tepper, and the two seasons since then were almost worse than the crash and burn 1-15 times that brought Cam Newton to town, fresh off a national championship at Auburn.

Give Mr. Tepper credit for believing in and leaving alone a management team already in place in Year One, trusting there could be a continuation of success (11-5) after what had been a trip to the Super Bowl and MVP year for Newton in 2015-16. Give even more credit to him for being just as dissatisfied with 7-9, 5-11 seasons that moved believers (there is still that “Buckle on the Bible Belt” factor) to wanting more and making positive changes on multiple fronts.

Charlotte isn’t Cleveland or Iraq – Reality counts

Sure, its easy to bust on Cleveland, even if my community group is counting on lots of people from there showing up again this Friday at our second pierogi dinner (over 700 served last year). Baker Mayfield has talked a lot, done plenty of commercials, but the most memorable night of their season was a vicious brawl with the Steelers, with Browns DE Myles Garrett clubbing QB Mason Rudolph with his own helmet.

The biggest changes for the 2020 Panthers are moving their training came from the

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Fans won’t need to make the sweaty pilgrimage to Wofford, but no word on #1 at this point.

brutal humidity of the Wofford campus in Spartanburg, SC during July, finally creating a necessary indoor practice facility, and elevating the super-productive Christian McCaffrey onto the national scene with his 1,000 yard rushing and receiving season (only 3rd player ever to accomplish), and the development of DJ Moore to anticipated elite receiver status.

At least now Ruhle gets to coach Moore, whom he recruited out of high school to attend Temple (Moore went to Maryland).

There’s no equivocating from either the owner or new coach about “Trust the process,” and while positive results are clearly expected sooner v. later, there are no “laws of armed conflict” or lives to be considered by Ruhle, aside from Cam Newton’s physical status and the overall defensive pulse, which has taken a beating for two seasons.

Tepper’s early assessment was that Ruhle has done “pretty amazing things with less” by turning a hoops school like Temple into 10-game winners his last two (of four) seasons there, and resuscitating Baylor from 1-11 to to 7-6 and 11-3 over three seasons at the helm in Waco. 2020 figures to be a beyond interesting year in America, and for Charlotte and the NFC South, “amazing” would be a grateful upgrade from continuing mediocrity.

Everything we’ve seen and heard from “our guy” here, including his purchase of an MLS soccer franchise and the (expected) cooperation of City Council in bringing development to that side of the city with the former Eastland Mall site, comes as straight up and positive. You did not hear “imminent” from Ruhle or Tepper, the rest is trust by the Panther faithful.

As for tonight, Geaux Tigers!

 

Panthers ugly 2019 ends with questions on broken D, head coach, Olsen, Cam

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There won’t be any pilgrimages to Wofford in 2020, but the fans will still be faithful.

Here in “The Buckle on the Bible Belt,” its quite possible that more than a couple fans put some time into praying that Christian McCaffrey didn’t get hurt, especially during the eight loss spiral that ended in a soggy 42-10 whipping by the Saints at BOA Stadium.

Color commentators often opine that defensive backs best assets are speed and having a short memory about negative plays, and if a belated Christmas or Hanukkah gift could be given out to end the year, may Charlotte be so blessed memory-wise.

There was a whole lot of ugly going on after Kyle Allen started throwing INTs and the defense showed they couldn’t stop anyone, and not replaying it all is legitimate. Yes, it was smile-worthy that McCaffrey became only the third player in NFL history to post 1,000 yards-plus rushing and receiving, and Moore seems to have arrived as a premier receiver in only his second year ranked 9th, with 87 catches, 1,175 yards and four TDs.

As a two-time Coach of the Year, Ron Rivera will probably find another job in the NFL (Redskins?), although except for the 15-1 regular season the Panthers posted in their 2015 Super Bowl season, he wouldn’t be the franchise’s career leader in victories at 76-63-1.

Rivera arrived the same year as Cam Newton, and defensive bulwark Luke Kuechly became an instant star at middle linebacker the next year, but good luck to him working any instant magic for the 3-13 ‘Skins owner Daniel Snyder.

Do NOT expect many of the Panthers coaching staff to remain in Charlotte. While owner David Tepper gave Rivera an above average amount of rope during a second straight year of defensive under-achieving, he’s not going to let that become the sort of malaise that infects Detroit, Cleveland, or Cincinnati. How Cam Newton’s status looks after a bad shoulder (2018) and foot (missed all but first two games of 2019) injuries is an especially big question for fans this winter, and Allen’s turnover woes (16 INTs, 13 fumbles) don’t come across as the answer in the QB arena.

Is it really the thought that counts this time of year?

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Having given a brother several bags of mulch and some pea gravel – along with a promise to render his front garden area more presentable – and the roof of his house being done just before Christmas, the analogy of the back yard being a mess *right now* is a legitimate one for the Panthers.

The Carolina Panthers weren’t the worst at anything, although 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. That made their 3,696 (231 yds. per game) by air look comparatively lofty, with 19 teams – including 12-4 division winner New Orleans (3,868) – behind them.

While that only proves numbers aren’t always the whole story, especially in a pass-happy league, the Panthers were pushed around plenty, with runners consistently picking up necessary first down yardage. McCaffrey was third in rushing with 1,387 yards and 15 TDs (287 carries) plus 1,005 receiving (4 TDs); Derrick Henry (TN) won the rushing title with 1,540 (16 TDs, 303 carries).

Although many fans, especially in the Carolinas, would consider C-MC’s efforts worthy of MVP consideration, his exploits the second half of the year were almost a curiosity to the rest of the country, though his 116 receptions and productivity were crucial to fantasy owners. Nobody doubted he gave his best effort every week, even when defenses were often stacked to stop his contributions along the way.

Mr. Tepper isn’t Yoda, but fix things he must

The Panthers boss man not only put his considerable $$$ where his mouth is while buying the Panthers at the beginning of 2018, he’s also added an indoor practice facility and a major league soccer franchise ($325 million), while targeting a rejuvenation of the former Eastland Mall area off Central Avenue with a practice facility and team offices for the soccer franchise. That goes beyond good thoughts, but fixing a great many lagging factors before their 26th season is uppermost on Panthers fans minds.

Recently released lesser performers like Gruden (Redskins), Kitchens (Browns), Shurmer (NYG) and the like will probably not be of interest to Tepper as a head coach, but former Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy’s success makes him a possibility, along with a list of high profile college coaches. McCarthy apparently also wanted the GM role when he was considered for the Browns job, but Marty Hurney has done a good job on that front.

While the Panthers have always had a reputation for promoting from within, two years of negatives will probably call for new, pedigreed blood.

Whether a “defensive minded” head coach will get the call – based on the last two years of getting undressed regularly – as a deciding factor is iffy, although a strong defensive coordinator to replace Eric Washington is a 99% certainty. Sticking with the 3-4 or going back to the 4-3 is not the #1 question right now, with a small thanks for not being as pitiful on the pass rush as last year.

College coaches don’t have a great track record in the pros, Pete Carroll of the Seahawks being an obvious exception, and Chip Kelly, who nearly wrecked the Eagles before Doug Pederson took the reins and led them to a Super Bowl win, being the more normal result.

 2020 will be turn the page time

Charlotte was thrilled when its first professional sports franchise, the Hornets, came to town because it proved the city was major league. They bought PSLs (personal seating licenses) to build the football stadium when they gained an NFL franchise in 1993, the first time that route was utilized in the sports world, and gladly (??) chipped in major tax dollars to help refurbish it a couple years ago.

Charlotte now has about every pro sport covered, with the Knights (baseball), Checkers (AHL champs in 2018 season), Hornets, and Panthers. There’s also the historic enthusiasm for the college programs, which now includes the UNCC 49ers (7-6) after the first trip to a bowl game and taking their lumps as a newbie D-1 entrant for five years. The Tobacco Road hoops schools, Wake Forest, South Carolina’s Gamecocks, and of course, Clemson football, all have a dedicated following.

Keep wearing your Olsen, Newton, Kuechly, and McCaffrey jerseys proudly, even if Olsen decides he’s had enough after 2019. Cleveland (6-10) made only marginal progress in two years with Baker Mayfield despite a lot of talking, but count on Mr. Tepper not taking a back seat to anyone on getting results. He’s not Santa Claus, but he’ll deliver sooner than that merry old gent.

And if you want to keep working the beads for McCaffrey’s good health, that’s not a problem either.