Micro-Economy ‘Suits’ me well – All Blue Weekend as Umpire & Hugo Boss seller, #gshorkonsharonroadseam continues

After posting three straight $2,000 days to hit sales goals, taking a Saturday from retail to umpire four 12 yr. old girls (1 hr.) softball games was a solid touch with American Goodness. Talking with people at fence is intrinsic income, $160 for Sat. behind the plate, 10:00-3:00 is valid micro-economy, working in brilliant weather is karmic. Lease renewal of ideal Charlotte location is important to continuing micro-economic progress over the last year.

People driving a distance are buyers

1st time out with gold-blue paisley tie. Light blue button down, Boss Blue suit, cognac Maddens.

True that. Nordstrom’s draws people from even three hours away.

People are still spending money, we’ll see how things continue to roll. There is MUCH more product available, especially Peter Millar sports and cooler weather coverings. Half-zips jumping out already, the cords, we’ll see – new Brooks Bros. supply of big wales cords ($118) hasn’t been disturbed much.

Weddings are still the major buying point. We run out of the most popular sizes quickly in suits, but we received full runs for most designers (Boss, Baker, Millar, Canali). Sports coats ($645-750+) are steady.

The point of being a ‘professional’ came up recently on LinkedIn site, I have to believe the extra respect I draw looking Right makes a difference, because people tell me so.

Its not just ego, or a magic blue suit – SERVICE is a legitimate dividing line between real good sales help and somebody who just rings your stuff up, or asks if they can take your armload of clothes and open a room for you.

Glenn, Mr. Hugo Boss & Blue 10/08/22

Umpiring – Even negatives are short lived

As a Little League umpire, balls and strikes, outs and safes control the game, hitting and fielding are difference makers. There was really only one altercation over four games, but its the kind most spectators consider when they say, “I could never do that job.”

In this complex world, where handling of nuclear secrets is parsed and litigated, making a coach aware of FACT he has two options: Stop talking right now and stay in the dugout, or watch the rest of the game (down 11-1) from the parking lot with ability to make it stick *immediately,* that is controlling a situation. (Chewing on a twenty minute old event – or a two year old election – isn’t good, let it go Coach)

When you start umpiring, they tell you not to talk with people along the fence, because it only takes one call to turn them against you, but I’m still a yakker. Talking with catchers is my prerogative. I’m 100% sold on umpiring gig as good for American Family Baseball, some small affirmations of respect count personal pride-wise. I got hit 4x Saturday – twice in chest protector, once ‘close’ on upper inside of thigh…thanks for asking.

I’ve got the 22nd open, I might do it again this Fall.

The roof to left is a three car garage, the back yard is large and well-supplied with amenities. Just another corner property in Myers Park, where walking is sort of entertainment.

SHELTER – Another year

Landing at #gshorkonsharonroadseam this time last year was the finale of five moves in five months, so every time I walk or ride around this neighborhood, that’s the standard I use for having improved in my micro-economy. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/12/11/vaxxed-check-with-a-comma-threat-of-homeless-handled-well-a-good-suit-feel-to-end-of-2021/ The pickleball courts at Myers Park CC are across the street and Queens University is an easy walk away.

They’re going Division I in hoops this year, I will cheer the local guys regularly.

The flow of traffic fifty feet away on Sharon Road reaches a level that awakens about 7:00am, sometimes earlier with school buses; recent construction in front yard to change flooding at bottom of long downhill section was good work. There are a couple owls hoot-hooting in nearby woods.

The stove is small, so are the sinks, and definitely not enough outlets, but the Booty Loop (bicycling) is four blocks away, I have a screened porch and actual office in 2nd BR, with a quick drive, still on Sharon Road, to work at Nordstrom. My rent is only going up $25 this year, that’s excellent, given concerns about inflation. On a regular basis, nodding to dog walkers around eleven as we all enjoy Fall weather, I’m secure as I can imagine in 2022.

Big Government, Being Part of the Solution

Finding a place to plant my housing flag at end of 2021 counted, so did benefitting from SNAP program. $235/month that millions got as direct deposit during the worst part of the pandemic – instead of the $15 I would ordinarily have qualified for – was a difference maker.

There are PSAs about how a Mother sends kids to bed with soup, nothing for herself, heartbreaking and factual. That counselor telling me everyone was going to qualify for $235, the knowledge I wouldn’t go hungry was beyond a huge weight lifted.

After the program payments ended in June, I had nearly $600 unspent, still about $100 on it. Count me as someone who clearly benefitted from a government that addressed the biggest needs facing average citizens the last two years. Gratitude, yes. Reworking my personal micro-economy a-sap by to get over that homelessness hump, and assuring my food resources were secure, I was given exactly the right and necessary stake to accomplish my here and Now positives.

There’s $$$ in the bank now. Job in retail, food, and Social Security was a restart point in late 2021. IMHO, getting vaccine on March 18th is still THE biggest example of government done right.

I’ve already volunteered for poll worker. I’d rather be part of the solution necessary for this country, in even a small way, and able to know how democratic elections are supposed to operate. In 2020, I asked quite a few questions of a gentleman at E. Independence library about election safety, I had no doubts the voting in Mecklenburg County, NC was secure. I’m going to pay that forward for others.

Voting with enlightened self-interest is easy, Medicare is an obvious factor for this Boomer with Attitude, but if Roe v. Wade is your concern, it seems the ‘Pubs are against whatever most people feel seems right. I promise not to politicize the voting process, just help with the mechanics, like at work.

I’ve been a Harambee reader for a summer school program, all they required was about ten minutes of time with students. Putting in some inconvenient hours being at a polling place early, that’s reasonable for a Good Citizen, right? https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/06/28/well-delivered-messages-work-wonders-at-all-levels/

Panthers HC Rhule is Fired

Another shade of Blue for the weekend was the Carolina Panthers 37-15 shellacking by the 49ers, Coach Rhule’s end a move everyone saw coming. I don’t recall hearing the death knell comment “The organization has full confidence…” but whatever he considered an understanding with Mr. Tepper, going 1-4 while losing three straight at home didn’t hit any positive standard.

He won’t be mourned. A pre-season analysis that Rhule needed 9 wins as a significant jump in success to keep earning paychecks seemed optimistic as hell now. No, it didn’t look like the Carolina Panthers offense was about to catch fire and get close to that number.

Tack on #1 quarterback Baker Mayfield getting dinged enough to probably miss the next game, Charlotte justifiably has the blues.

For one of my customers who mentioned tickets perhaps being available, this looks like a golden opportunity to unload a couple, right? I’d still go. Have the wheels fallen off enough that Sam Darnold reappears, and becomes the leader Panthers GM Scott Fitterer thought he’d fixed the Panthers QB problem with last year?

Luckily, the icky situation Panthers face won’t affect my micro-economy, where consistent effort brings results. Those gentlemen I worked quite hard for Sunday will come back, we’ll order them suits, expedited if necessary. Panthers woes won’t affect midterm elections either, when America crosses its collective fingers and retains its democracy by Voting Blue.

New cards are coming, #gshorkonsharonroadseam is looking good for 2022-23. Figure on left: Part of ‘Welcome to Real World’ poster, 1st CDTE project.

‘Great Suit Feeling’ in retail continues, Queens Cup races a social grace, Panthers get stud left tackle Ekwonu

My personal micro-economy gets #1 for attention, but the steeplechases are a premier Must-Do live in NC sunshine event, one I’ve enjoyed five times. Our American football? vs. futbol team has drafted help in a VERY big way. Hellllloooo Ikem Ekwonu!

Tony did a great job on an old pinstripe

Customers respond to someone who walks the talk with style, redone pinstripe was a worthy micro-economy investment.

An analogy between what the Carolina Panthers have recently said regarding QB Sam Darnold and my new-look classic blue suit is righteous. You appreciate the bones-skills, but it doesn’t look quite right.

Who didn’t know the Panthers have been wringing their hands, about how to upgrade the position AND fix an underlying problem with offensive protection, specifically at left tackle in the draft? Darnold hadn’t overly-impressed anyone in ten starts in 2021, picking up his 5th year option early was seen as a misstep.

Then, in days before yesterdays draft, there were headlines about ‘Mr. Tepper likes QB Panthers have,’ and ‘Steve Smith says Carolina hasn’t seen how good Sam Darnold can really be’ (duh), and similar stories.

Did someone in the brain trust decide running down Darnold for $18MM due in another season and negatives of stats https://www.pff.com/nfl/players/sam-darnold/29048 was less effective than putting a “We could win with Sam!” face on things? (Still, I doubt anybody would want to be in Baker Mayfield’s cleats right now…)

Relative to my suit – I can’t really remember how old it is, certainly from the previous centuryit owed me nothing. ‘Just a suit,’ like Darnold coming from Jets, just a QB.

It didn’t cost anywhere near $18 million to make important changes though.

Panther fans won’t be as unanimous about how Ekwonu (salvation by local boy!) and Darnold (still here, huh?) present themselves when things get real this fall, but everyone has been positive about my suit’s transformation. Tightening things up with Darnold’s game would be a similar deal.

While wearing an older-‘experienced’ pinstripe suit and ties was already classier than most coworkers wear at Nordstrom’s, I believe customers relate to a professional image. ‘I have the suit, what can I do with it?’ didn’t take Scott Fitterer-level smarts to invest $145 in upgrading this regularly used asset. (Thanks Tony!)

  • Legs not billowy, tapered now.
  • No cuffs, almost showing ankle, Shortest I’ve worn in forever.
  • I still have pleats! Waist and behind taken in
  • The top button, at bottom of lapel, is repositioned.
  • Jacket difference is huge,*definitely* feels closer, sleeker. Wallet goes to back pocket, it changes the line on right side.
  • We didn’t mess with lapels – its always a classic pinstripe.
  • An inch off bottom was an immediate, noticeable change. ($52)

Yes, I picked up the option on doing another suit – then negotiated with the shoe shine guy for polishing and a tight left boot situation. Spirit of the season on ‘additional considerations’?

Queens Cup Steeplechases

The aura of Good Will that permeates the QCS is legendary. Congrats on Silver Anniversary!

Whatever they’d told me a ticket cost at Harris Teeter, I’d have gladly paid it. The event history is a specific charity – Alzheimer’s Association in this, the events Silver Anniversary running – gets a significant jolt from proceeds. For $60, after three years away, vowing NOT to miss this All Kinds of Good social event to WORK! was easy. Using the “Never is heard a discouraging word” is Truth – once you’ve been, you’ll know.

There are ‘good horsies’ in a central area, where children and sorority sisters can be led around on or have pictures taken astride. If the Raptor Center can be allowed out again safely, previous owls and hawks were excellent for kids, wildlife up close. Newbies are the greatest to show around, its impossible not to strike up conversations with total strangers over cornhole, haberdashery, or tailgating.

The bright yellow Garcia tie with blue-blue Bugachi, topped with ‘antique’ 1979 Ferrari hat, from final Watkins Glen (NY) Formula I race.

It’ll be seersucker or Nantucket Red pants, and because I’m saving #1 Tommy Bahama shirt for a costume change, a bright yellow Garcia autograph tie with good-fitting blue-blue Bugachi (long sleeve, $160) to show some Ukrainian support. Ahhh! and an ‘antique’ Ferrari hat, purchased with poker winnings at Watkins Glen Formula races waaaay back, never fails to get comment.

I haven’t experienced the major sponsor tents – in tiers along the finish line, after a loooong final straightway – but the Top Tailgate award winner (entrants around infield of the 1.5 mi. turf) is often an excellent place to get an additional beverage or snacks.

Operationally, its a slow drive through Waxhaw (Note: Took 1:15 to go last mile, coming from south on 75), to get to the GA (general admission) gates, so allow some time for that. If you don’t catch one of the small tour buses, the walk in from the far out fields is a decent trek. Being even a little early on the 1:30ish first race, you’ve got a shot at closer parking.

The After-Party (Hotwalkers Ball) is a buffet and an always jumping band, which continues about 1 1/2 hours after last (of usually six) races.

Micro-economy still a Great Suit Feeling

While pleased with my own haberdashery after suit upgrade, setting up one dude with something that spoke of ‘uptown casual’ tone of invitation for QCS was fun for all.

We were on a Millar sportscoat (silver-gray-black with almost Panther-blue window pane, $700) early, but the final choices were a blue Hugo Boss unlined hyperlight ($390), Millar sueded-medium gray pants (a must have, $158), Bugachi short sleeve ($150) white with smaller, three-color swirls, and cognac Mangianni weave belt ($150). I told him most of his outfit was free, if you put it against the original sportcoat $$.

Cranked it ($4,700) on Monday, capping a hustling last two hours with a $2,000 Canali suit as they counted down the last 15 minutes to 8:00 close. That made me #2 in the store, and Tuesday night I sold handled another suit past 8:00. For someone who STILL hasn’t gotten a Sunday in six weeks, my numbers are strong.

I’ve interviewed for another sales situation (with a much higher upside to a good day) that’s appeared, so my micro-economy is like millions of others – ready to do more than listen, I’m ready to make moves.

Absolutely nailed a Hugo Boss black suit, 44 Regular, first shot out of barrel Friday. Gentleman was impressed with long-sleeve Bugachi black shirt (ooooCotton! $160), killer textured off-black belt ($1300 total), scoring a last minute-kick save! on classic black funeral outfit for him. The hem on pants (+$60 alterations) was ready in morning.

Losing another suit to politics was an unfortunate situation, but I’ll be over it well before I’m done with my second Lazy Bird Brown Ale tomorrow.

My micro-economy is like millions of others in USA – ready to do more than listen, I’m ready to make moves.

We’ll see how my picking of horseflesh – there’s no real betting, just sayin’ “I think the gray one” – results stacks up with whenever/whomever the Panthers get to pick again.

Extra note about draft: Panthers GM Scott Fitterer is the bomb-diggity, trading up to third round to get Matt Corral, the necessary QB upgrade that was Item 1-A in draft. https://www.nfl.com/news/panthers-trade-up-to-select-ole-miss-qb-matt-corral-in-third-round-of-2022-nfl-d

Panthers #6 pick can’t fill two major needs, so 7 Ideas for GM Fitterer to consider along the way

Without burying the lead, but with a quantity of tongue in cheek, the answer is Testaverde. They wouldn’t owe anyone compensation picks.

Just kidding, a bit of shock therapy there. Its Kaepernick.

Every Panther fan, in fact the NFL WORLD knows how desperately the Carolina Panthers want-need an alpha-type leader as a quarterback. Sound of mind and limb (letting Cam out the side door easily with that criteria), able to hand the ball to McCaffrey regularly, and throw some long TDs to the now properly taken care of contract-wise DJ Moore.

With the DeShaun Watson dalliance settled after his trade to Cleveland (!?), and nobody experts project as a franchise QB in the draft, that #6 should mean General Manager Scott Fitterer grabs a documented and undeniably sturdy OLT (offensive left tackle) to settle an obvious long term line problem.

Names are circulating, but if you’ve heard the Panthers might select a stud edge rusher, that’s what they call ‘smoke.’

Highly Motivated – Absolutely!

Are Kaep’s skills anywhere near NFL levels after years (post 2016) wandering in the relative desert, essentially black-listed for his kneeling as a silent message about constant shooting-killing of young black men by white cops across America? Held to the light of retreads (Jay Cutler, Ryan Fitzpatrick) who have gotten opportunities elsewhere, is he at all a consideration?

Just in case you didn’t know, Kaep and the Panthers passed this way before, in 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1z2kBAO5yI

While it would have to be one HELL of a workout to make such a bet-the-franchise move, when options include Cam and the un-good performance of Darnold over his first ten games, Baker Mayfield sure isn’t a more logical answer than Kaepernick.

You wouldn’t keep the lid on a workout with professional route runners Kaep says he’d like to throw to (Panthers have several), some PR circus would accompany it – Cleveland is getting a ration of negativity for bringing Watson in – but that isn’t Panthers problem. Would they have to make a huge offer to satisfy some sense of ‘worth’ after so long, or just put together a ‘Make Good’ incentive package (Wins? 4000 yards, Comeback Player of Year?) that puts him in camp and working full time on his skills?

Cam’s haberdashery and previous community efforts shouldn’t and won’t count in further discussions.

‘Make good’ sounds like a winner, and its doubtful Mr. Tepper pays prime $$$ for another stop gap QB. Like many teams, when you’re down, it behooves looking at all options, and Panthers continue to sign positional players. If Coach Rhule can’t turn a former Temple player like PJ Walker into the starter, Darnold is signed for $18MM, and Rodgers got $200MM to stay in Green Bay, Fitterer will have some leeway on a contract.

#2 – Sam Darnold

Okay, this isn’t Sam Darnold by any stretch of imagination, but would he be more likeable if he dressed like Cam?

Charlotte fans were willing to believe some good loving after three years in New York would cure the former #3 overall pick of all his demons, yet with an easy, 25th place schedule, his ability to throw the long ball, and a plethora of offensive options, he indeed under-performed in 2021.

How much blame for that goes with exiled Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady, whose LSU superstars (Joe Burrow, 4 receivers, RBs) blowing away college secondaries got him the job but didn’t seem to faze many pros, is open to discussion.

FYI – Panthers will be playing the 12th toughest schedule this year. https://www.panthers.com/news/carolina-panthers-2022-opponents-are-set

Yes, Darnold looks like a weak link, and whether anyone could fail while having CMC to hand off to (please, please!) or to drop swing passes he lugs 18 yards or so, we may never know. In gallows humor, if the Panthers can’t somehow package him in a trade, at least he isn’t the $40MM dead money salary cap hit former Falcon Matt Ryan’s team was willing to take by shoving him at the Colts.

Darnold looks like a weak link, but at least he isn’t wearing a massive, albatross level $40MM dead money salary cap hit former Falcon Matt Ryan’s team was willing to take.

FYI – An albatross has nearly a 10 foot wing span, and is considered an insult when its meant as a psychological burden that feels like a curse. In Rime of the Ancient Mariner  (Coleridge,1798), as bad luck (becalmed) continues, the ships crew blame their misfortunes on the mariner killing an albatross, which is hung from the his neck to signify the mariner’s culpability in cursing the ship.

Sam Darnold is not the unwieldy burden Ryan’s $40 million cap hit is.

Jury is out on Coach Rhule – Year 3

Ending pursuit of Watson means the Panthers will be able to keep many of their really good pieces, which includes a defense that’s regained a place in the middle of the pack compared to previous bottom three in most categories. Jeremy Chinn, Derek Brown, and edge rusher-mayhem maker Brian Burns are part of that cadre. Donte Jackson would belong in that category if he used that speed to *stop* receptions instead of laying a lick on receivers immediately after the catch.

Whether every former player (Temple, Baylor) of Rhule’s that comes to Panthers is an automatic best choice, Fitterer is a known and respected quantity as a trader. It seemed like a gaping hole had been fixed with his initial signing of Darnold, but he’ll be essential in continuing to bring in possibilities. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/04/09/panthers-take-care-of-business-gm-fitterer-lands-qb-darnold-to-get-rolling/

Coaches are hired to be fired, and the NFL landscape is littered with unsuccessful college transitions. If Rhule still has any reason to be thankful the last Thursday in November, so will a lot of Panther fans. Tepper’s new futbol team, Charlotte FC, came out of the gate with a record-breaking home crowd of over 75,000. https://www.charlottefootballclub.com/video/miguel-ramirez-talks-match-against-fc-cincinnati-first-win#miguel-ramirez-talks-match-against-fc-cincinnati-first-win. Success there doesn’t mean he’d be at all happy with a Panthers team that puts up less than a serious playoff-level season.

The Panthers Defense is up to Snuff

Two drafts ago the Panthers used all seven picks on defense, and Phil Snow came in with Rhule from Baylor as Defensive Coordinator. Last year their #1 pick was Jaycee Horn, who didn’t play after week three with a broken foot. Chinn-Horn could become a bona fide lock-down duo, the D moved to middle of pack, and while early raves for doing well against three weak teams to start weren’t reality, the Panther defense finished strong (36 sacks) by many metrics. https://www.catscratchreader.com/2022/1/19/22888030/final-2021-ratings-for-the-panthers-defense-per-pro-football-focus.

In all the messaging from Houston about Watson, it seemed like draft picks, help for the Texan defense, and even McCaffrey, were thought possibilities to go in the pot, so losing defensive progress would’ve replaced QB as a challenge.

Burns is an actual stud, this could well be his blossom year. Will speed rusher be the greatest necessity in draft? Highly doubtful.

McCaffrey Silences the Doubters

To say “It is what it is” about Christian McCaffrey’s two year holding pattern is almost legitimate, but if Kaepernick would be well motivated, CMC is a documented over-achiever https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/panthers-restructure-christian-mccaffreys-contract-reportedly-clear-up-5-5-million-in-cap-space/ Charlotte has paid for the best of what comes next, McCaffrey restructured that $21.5 MM bonus contract so many talk about, so you’ll see how he feels about being sidelined for most of two years.

At NO point should anyone be linking his name as trade bait. He might have made the offensive line look better than it was up until then, but great players elevate the play of those around them. Believing a block held an extra part of a second might mean McCaffrey breaks a big one fires a team up. The Buccaneers have Tom Brady back, you KNOW the belief he instills as The GOAT. Don’t sweat that the Panthers have worn CMC out by overuse, he is coming loaded for payback.

#6 – The McAdoo Offense

Perhaps there are doubts about getting anything from the Giants, but if the Panthers new offensive coordinator gets the benefit of salary cap funds (about $29MM, as noted) going into the offensive line instead of switching parts around every time someone gets injured, that would be progress. Fitterer doing anything except trading down a couple spots while still getting that stud OLT isn’t going to happen.

Just WHO is going to run *any* offense will be the primary question. Kaep is 34 now, he hasn’t taken a beating in a while, so it’s not a hard thirty-four, and he’s as worthy of being talked about as anyone. The NFL has mostly given up the RPO (run-pass option) that Cam, Russ, RPG III, and several others did well with early, because defensive coordinators quickly decided whacking the QB on every play would make teams leery of putting high value QBs health on the line.

Offensive line play WILL improve, and not getting Watson to Charlotte means lots of other people get paid. DJ Moore is on track to game-breaker status, but only if Panthers QB (Kaepernick?) has time, with ability to move around when necessary. Giants O-lines always had a reputation for grinding power game, Chubba and CMC will be able to work with that, and yes, long balls to Moore/Anderson should be expected.

Using tight ends for blocking may be necessary, more satisfying would be Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas evolving into ninja-level receivers, if watching Greg Olsen tape can be converted to productive pattern running.

#7 – Year 3 of Rhule doesn’t make us Detroit

Detroit allowed Matt Millen to single-handedly wreck the franchise (31-97) over eight years as CEO/team president, a job his linebacking career didn’t prepare him for at all. GM Scott Fitterer doesn’t have such limitations, and he’s at the controls. The necessary help is mostly on the way. Colin Kaepernick, we’ll see how that rolls.

With all due respect to Matt Stafford for escaping 12 years of servitude in Detroit and using his super arm to take Rams to a winning Super Bowl – or the end of the Baker Mayfield run in Cleveland with Watson’s arrival – four years of sub-standard football is enough for Tepper (and fans). Yes, a $62MM coach should do better than 10-23, even if not having an inspirational QB or stud running back sounds legitimate.

That delay with new headquarters in Rock Hill aside, Mr. Tepper has staked out quite a few successful operations in his time as an owner. If Coach Rhule’s leadership of 2022 team is regarded as a serious mistake at Thanksgiving, that would be cause for specific change.

‘Vanilla’ pre-season offense will surprise Steelers, Panther fans, NFL in 2021

Will the 2021 Panthers be capable of playoff caliber production? A lot of smart money is going to say “11-6 and we’ll see.”

I arrived in Charlotte (from upstate NY) the same year the Panthers started playing, 1995, and went to a game at Clemson that year against the 49ers. I took two pictures that I won’t forget – Sam Mills going up to stop Steve Young on a QB sneak, and Tyrone Poole trying to stop a high pass to Jerry Rice. I never liked the Giants or Jets, mostly because I had to watch regional doubleheaders of them during college, when they both stunk. I also got tickets to their playoff win against Dallas, and saw the full-moon win against New England when a last second Brady pass was incomplete. (Yes, Kuechly was holding Gronkowski.)

It’s a stone-cold given that the Panthers offense will put numbers on the board in 2021 season – the team record is 500, in the 2015 Super Bowl season – although the Carolina faithful may not be Believers yet. They haven’t seen any Darnold 70-yard bombs to those terrific receivers, ZERO from face-of-the-franchise Christian McCaffrey, and the second team defense hasn’t looked like they could step in and stop anyone better than in 2019.

Hang in there Charlotte, ‘The Quarterback Whisperer’ (Joe Brady), those fine receivers – Anderson and Moore were #3 producers in NFL in 2020 – and CMC is still the terrific over-achiever you remember from that 1000-1000 year.

Yes, Sam Darnold will pull the trigger

Rhule commented that Darnold throws a real nice deep ball, and fannies at BOA Stadium haven’t seen that factor in a long time. Steve Smith is still worshipped as the best we’ve had (836 catches/12,197 yds./67 TDs), he’ll probably become a Hall of Famer this year. Mushin Muhammed (860/11,438/62) gave the Panthers great service, and Greg Olsen will always be considered a ninja legend, a tight end who couldn’t be seen until he’d gotten the catch and first down yardage.

Defenses – and anyone in the stands – knew Newton almost exclusively kept throws to 20 yards or less, and his awkwardness in getting to the ground versus destroying DBs like before a 2016 injury, was painful to watch. Newton wasn’t close to a fearsome runner his last few years here, and in his MVP year (2015), only his 35 passing TDs (plus 10 rushing) was statistically much different from his career stats. While he enjoyed a 67.9% completion rate in 2018, a lot of that was dropoffs to McCaffrey, who obviously lugged the ball a lot in the Norv Turner offense.

Kyle Allen turned DJ Moore into a star by being able to hit him in stride the next year, Teddy Bridgewater didn’t scare anyone about going long, and Newton never threw a touch pass or jump ball to receivers in the red zone in nine years. Sam Darnold will change all that, including teams stacking the box to stop McCaffrey.

The Quarterback Whisperer

Ask Joe Burrow (Cincinatti Bengals) if Joe Brady made him the #1 draft pick last year, and he’ll admit that, talent aside, the juice Brady put into a somewhat stodgy LSU offense was the deal. Burrows top receivers his senior year are all in the NFL now, including Terrance Marshall, Jr. with the Panthers.

The potentially weak link in what should be a wide-open offense with CMC back and wide receivers galore, is going to be the O-line blocking Darnold gets. Yes, he sometimes had ‘happy feet’ trying to avoid sacks with the Jets, and *maybe* Brady wouldn’t say anything negative about his QB. Darnold is certainly under a microscope – albeit not a NY media one – and those at practice say he’s showing leadership and the arm that made him the overall #3 pick back in 2018. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/04/09/panthers-take-care-of-business-gm-fitterer-lands-qb-darnold-to-get-rolling/

Vanilla offense no more

With Burrow the proof of Brady’s offensive influence – (NCAA record 76.3% completions), 60 TDs, 5,671 yards (378 avg. per game) – more so than Bridgewater’s 15 TD/11 INT mark – NFL coaches are aware the Panthers offensive coordinator hasn’t shown much from what should be a substantial bag of tricks.

Last year the Panthers had four players accumulate over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, and while Mike Davis and Curtis Samuel have taken their games elsewhere, McCaffrey will replace – or once again become – that offensive production.

If you saw his shoulder injury, the defender pinned McCaffrey’s arms before he landed and he couldn’t protect his fall. Sure it could happen again, but its also impossible for linebackers to drop into deep zones to help with coverage when he, or possibly stud rookie Chuba Hubbard are carving out first downs running. CMC can just as easily go in motion and pick up eight yards on a short out, more if someone (few want to attempt open field tackles with him) isn’t coming to get him.

Robby Anderson is just the first of several Panthers who have received contract extensions (2 yr./ $29.5MM, $20.5MM guaranteed), meaning you’ll be hearing what this band is playing for a while. DJ Moore won’t totally break the bank with any new contract, but given Tepper and GM Scott Fitterer’s willingness to match production and paychecks (CMC got $21.3MM up front for his extension), he’ll get his piece too. Raiding well-paid Panthers personnel becomes a very secondary consideration.

If defenses had trouble with the speedy Samuel, they will not be happier with the size (6’2″, 200 lbs) of a third receiver like Marshall, who ran a 4.38 40 yd. dash and jumped 39″ in his pro day – and did 16 -225 lb. bench presses. DBs especially had better have it strapped on tight when he needs tackling.

Will the Panthers surprise Pittsburgh tomorrow and the NFL when games count for real? I’d say invoke Mr. Tepper’s financial stack and history of knowing what to do about what he wants results-wise. The smart money is on the steep though not prohibitive – cost of taking any of the current coaches away for head coaching positions elsewhere. Coaching WILL make a difference in Rhule 2.0.

Will Rhule rate a statue?

When Panthers owner David Tepper gave a big contract to Matt Rhule, he was betting against the history of terrific college coaches who fail in the NFL. Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer did real well with the Cowboys of course, but few others have made successful transitions to the pros.

After Coach Rhule’s 5-11 first year at the helm, not everyone was super-charged at prospects for 2021, especially lacking an A-1 QB to work with those quality receivers – of which there are now more. Rhule’s track record supports idea of significant second year progress – and he has a seven year, $60 million contract.

Right now, the statues outside the stadium are of Sam Mills, the linebacker who died of cancer in 2005 and is the inspiration for the teams ‘Keep Pounding’ theme. That he only played three seasons for the Panthers indicates the regard he was accorded. Mike McCormick was the team’s president and general manager from the time of Mr. Richardson’s bid, to formation in the NFL until 1997.

What might it take for Coach Rhule to get a stadium statue, generally a rare honor? Winning a Super Bowl would be a start. Winning as many games as Lombardi? Legitimate. Winning a title before Tepper’s new soccer team does? Ahhhhh… (The panthers at all entrances remain, original owner Jerry Richardson’s has been taken away.)

Let’s let him get through Year Two before the idea of statues comes up Charlotte.

COMING MONDAY – The Defense

Still plenty of room on Darnold-Panthers bandwagon, Fitterer and 11-6 a franchise reset

I *guarantee* any of the faithful watching practice tried to find shelter fast in Spartanburg. If you’ve been there, you know the deal.

Nobody seems to doubt the Panthers will have plenty of offensive firepower in 2021. The “and if” part in many projections for their season was getting a high caliber QB to run it. Fans will get more solid evidence that GM Scott Fitterer did pretty good with his first real important job, on Sunday in Indianapolis.

Sam Darnold, former NY Jet – I won’t use that term often any more, he’s the Panthers QB, no ifs, ands, or buts now – was said to look good in practice last week, so here we go! Its certainly nothing like the fanfare that accompanied #1 pick Cam Newton’s arrival in Charlotte in 2011, off a national championship at Auburn for him and a 1-15 season in Charlotte.

Former Panther coach Ron Rivera always said things became more real once the pads went on, and there you have it in a nutshell. Unloved where he was, Darnold is a talented player getting a muuuccch better second opportunity to prove his worth to us fannies will be the train to ride. He can’t nail a 300-yard night during two practices with Colts, and will probably only see a half of game action, so any attaboys! finally being uttered now, I’m sure he’ll accept them.

Any bigger picture decision about Fitterer’s genius will have to wait a little longer, https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/04/09/panthers-take-care-of-business-gm-fitterer-lands-qb-darnold-to-get-rolling/ but $30 million in cap space has plugged quite a few holes with free agents.

Consider 11-6 season a Panthers reboot

This will be an absolute turnaround season for the franchise, and opposing defenses should buckle it on tight after a highly movitated Christian McCaffrey (C-MC, some say CeeMac) comes out of the gate with maybe 150 yds./2 TDs on the Jets. Receivers Robbie Anderson and DJ Moore were the #3 production duo in NFL, and while two of FOUR Panthers not named McCaffrey who gained over 1,000 yards from scrimmage are gone (RB M.Davis, WR C.Samuel), there will be plenty of #22 jerseys in the stands cheering his return.

Valuable Replacements

Valuable replacement for Curtis Samuel (to Washington, 3 yr/$34.5M) NFL Network’s Cynthia Frelund pegged Terrance Marshall, Jr. as Top 5 pick to lead rookie receivers this year.

At 6’2″, 200 lbs., he’s the same size as Panther great Mushin Muhammad, as a #3 receiver, he’ll get 1-1 coverage because of Moore and Anderson.

For those who haven’t already forgotten Greg Olsen and his ‘ninja skills,’ suddenly appearing downfield to catch a clutch first down pass, management has signed 6’6″ Dan Arnold (Arizona) to a 2 year/$6M contract. That’s just in case Darnold can’t find a receiver anywhere else, there should a large security blanket-level target pretty much in front of his eyes.

Ask ex-Panther Jimmy Clausen why they couldn’t find a good pass-catching tight end when he was blitzed mercilessly the year before Cam Newton got a pair of stud TEs (Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen), or just accept they saw a need and took care of it.

The ‘Madden’ version of McCaffrey is redonkulous, his reality and quality equally so. Offensive lines LOVE working for someone with the ability to go house if you hold your block another fraction of a second.

Defense – Another Big Leap?

In Year Two of Phil Snow as the Panthers Defensive Coordinator, expectations for another rise in the rankings – from bottom three in all categories to 18th overall in points and total yardage in 2020 – are legitimate. It’s taken three seasons of iffy improvement to get here, and last year was still the worst defense in franchise history on 3rd down (allowed 49.2% conversion) and INTs with 7.

With #1 pick Jaycee Horn a large, very physical cornerback, getting off the field on 3rd down will be enhanced.

The all-defensive draft last year looks like gold now, especially trading up to have a second-second round pick that became Jeremy Chinn. https://www.espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/4043169/jeremy-chinn The Panthers defense led the league in recovered fumbles (15) and scored 3 touchdowns, two by Chinn on back-back plays. As for the mere 29 total sacks, Brian Burns (9) is looking to blow up at whatever they’ll call his position – speed rusher is accurate – and is the epitome of ‘Mobile, Agile, Hostile’.

The all-defensive draft last year looks like gold now, especially trading up to have a second-second round pick that became Jeremy Chinn.

Top factors to assess 2021 defense will be sacks, and turnovers will be emphasized. A couple times off the field with a stop on 3rd down becoming more opportunities for a potent offense will obviously make a difference. Turnovers always follow aggressive play calling, and adding a number of free agents (DT DaQuan Jones, LB Denzel Perryman, DE Haason Reddick) with that element is a real boost.

Reddick had 12.5 sacks for Arizona last year, plus 16 QB hits, 6 forced fumbles, 15 tackles for loss, and THAT will get a defense off the field sooner. He’ll play the opposite side from Burns, and Phil Snow must be licking his chops to have such a major upgrade. Jones played all 16 games 5 of 6 years for the Titans, and if not a big sack guy, Perryman is a documented run stuffer, and his range is clearly better than Tahir Whitehead, even if nobody will be going sideline-sideline like Luuuuuke!

DIVISION – NFC South

That Tom Brady took the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory in his first year away from New England isn’t lost on anyone in the division, where Panthers will see The GOAT twice a year. Drew Brees is gone, and while fans have waited a long time to see ‘Swiss Army Knife’ QB Taysom Hill – who has done everything for the Saints while Brees continued amazing – “we’ll see” is legitimate. If there’s a QB battle with Jameis Winston, something is wrong in the Dome.

Atlanta remains an arch-rival, and they picked up another stud receiver (TE Kyle Pitts, Florida), whose 4 yr./$32.9M contract is fully guaranteed. Matt Ryan is still slinging it there, and all division games count extra, so whether the secondary is good enough to hold up while the D-line goes after him will be the key, he’s never been called elusive.

There probably isn’t a defensive scheme Brady hasn’t seen, Ryan still has skills and blazing fast receivers, but any post-Brees letdown in New Orleans would be appreciated.

Wrap it up, we’ll take it

While Robbie Anderson isn’t a fan of the new turf in BOA stadium (‘its fake’), the stadium allows far too many other events to keep regular grass viable, so while it will be very different here, its not a totally strange surface either. Expecting someone like McCaffrey and Moore, who can turn on a dime, to take advantage of always good footing is not to be underestimated.

Joey Slye had a 120 point season (29 FGs, 33 PATs), his only drawback being 1-6 from over 50 yards.

Everyone loved Jeremy Chinn‘s contributions last year, switching between OLB and safety. Adding Denzel Perryman will probably allow Snow to keep Chinn at safety, but there will certainly be sneak attacks from the versatile Chinn to keep Ryan and Brady aware of his presence. (The rest of the NFL will learn about it too.)

There was an idea that Panthers would lose a couple shootouts in 2020, that possibility has gone down with an improved QB and a strong off-season of plugging holes with free agency as a result of $30 million in cap space.

Panthers play the NFC East and most of AFC East (total 8 games), with Eagles, Vikes, Pats, and Washington at home, the Bills and Miami on the road, and finish the season with Bucs-Saints-Bucs. They should be in contention for winning the conference all the way to the end – their strength of schedule is rated as 26th (of 32 teams, 5th easiest), which helps me stick with an 11-6 prediction.

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.

Fuggidaboudit, Charlotte & Darnold Works

Good young QBs traditionally get torn up, because they often went to the worst teams to start careers. The Jets continue as an NFL franchise.

  • 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.