Panthers, NFL (almost) puts ‘normal’ back on the U.S. mental menu

While its uncertain about when the crowds will be allowed to return to BOA Stadium, good football is back in Charlotte.

In a week where a presidential “debate” caused alarm and general cringing for so many things wrong, and my personal production on a book and being a WFH long-form informational blogger dragged, catching the Carolina Panthers 31-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals was a definite goodness.

The Panthers (2-2) now have as many wins as the combined NFC East, RB Mike Davis has shown he can do more than just give Christian McCaffrey an occasional breather, and well, on a sunshiney fine Monday, that’s three facts to go forward with, smiling.

After stopping a 10-game Panther losing streak with a 21-16 win over the Los Angeles Chargers last week, QB Teddy Bridgewater continues to be exceptional as a distributor, hitting eight different receivers in a 26/37, 276 yd./2 TD-1 INT effort. Of those eight receivers, free agent Robby Anderson (from Jets) just missed a third straight 100 yd. game (8/99), Samuel (3/51), Moore (4/49), Bonafon (2/18 with a TD, 10/53 rushing), and Davis 5/27) means Teddy B. is doing well.

He also added 32 yards rushing, one an 18 yd. TD run, and the Panthers controlled the ball for 37 minutes of the game. Without casting too much shade on the departed Cam Newton, for a guy who has come back from a devastating knee injury, Bridgewater runs better than the version of Newton Charlotte saw the last two years, when it looked like he couldn’t decide to get down or punish a tackler.

Most experts picked the Panthers for no better than a 6-10 record, and McCaffrey’s high ankle sprain (out 4-6 weeks) probably had most of them ready to take a win or two off that idea.

In what most of America will recognize as a continuing slow, closely watched reopening of stadiums at the college (Alabama-Texas A&M had 19,424 in Bryant-Denny Stadium, apparently that constitutes ‘social distancing’ in a 101k seat stadium) and pro levels, 5,200 fans got to watch a total team effort under optimal Carolina blue skies.

In putting the metrics up for examination, the Panthers were 4/5 on trips to the red zone, scoring four TDs (1/6 last week, 5 FGs by Joey Slye), and 7/11 converting 3rd downs (3/12 v. Chargers), and they only punted ONCE. As announcers noted, Cards QB Kyle Murray gouges many teams that fail to maintain ‘rush discipline,’ so with a defense that held the elusive Murray to 133 yds. (3 TDs) on 24 ‘dink & dunk’ completions, plus 48 of his 78 yards rushing on one of his six carries, results on both side of the ball were encouraging.

Put a check mark next to Jeremy Chinn, listed as a safety, but very flexible in the Panthers defensive scheme, for your All-Rookie team. He leads his class with 34 tackles. and smile again, because new defensive coordinator Phil Snow has earned his paycheck and Panther pride is on the rise.

Really, in a 2020 world thats been truly scary since COVID appeared, last years 5-11 seems like just a bad dream, definitely worth forgetting. Unfortunately for the Texans, Washington, Giants, Jets, and Atlanta (0-4), they are probably headed into really undesirable territory. That the Falcons haven’t been able to shake their unreal Super Bowl collapse to Tom Brady’s Patriots two years ago is a fact. A recent re-do of disasterous endings – that onside kick fiasco that saved the Cowboys was a gobsmack.

Whether Falcons get healthy receiving bodies back or not bothers nobody I know – this is man-up divisional, at all times genuinely hostile time for Panthers. I’ll watch that almost any weekend.

That’s kind of where I’m going on ‘normal,’ knowing I haven’t wiped down the kitchen in two weeks, but kind of penciling in my fall Saturday afternoon: leftovers for lunch, clearing out and washing the car, grocery shopping, a walk, blocking out another blog through four-ish, and no long gun carrying dudes like in Michigan? Normal’s cool on a rainy weekend.

Sunday football makes a real weekend

Most of the sports world is settling its champions in a strange mix of seasons, and scrambled though it was, its easy to admit that getting sports as an option while most of the country was staying hunkered down helped greatly. In shorthand mode:

  • The Tampa Bay Lightening beat the Dallas Stars for the NHL title in six games, and while there was no lack of effort from teams that lived in protective “bubbles” in Edmonton and Toronto while playing before empty arenas for two months, the TV ratings, probably due to the late starts in Edmonton, were less than great. Still, they were 33% better than last year, when it usually goes against the NBA and baseball in April, May, June.
  • The Portland Timber took the “MSL is Back” tournament (July 8 – August 11) and immediately began the 18 games remaining on the regular 2020 schedule. Stay tuned…
  • The Los Angeles Lakers lead the Miami Heat 3-1 in the NBA Finals, and LeBron was ticked off enough about 20 turnovers in the Game 3 loss to walk off the court before the end of the game. Even though the Lakers weren’t in great sync Game 4, their 3-pt. shooting was significant. Of concern to most is how things go Friday – it could be the Lakers 17th championship, LeBron’s something in a row, probably another MVP and he’s done great with his ‘More Than a Vote’ https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2898497-lebron-james-more-than-a-vote-pushing-nba-arenas-as-mega-polling-sites campaign , getting the Lakers to offer their arena (as have many other teams, including Panthers, with unused stadiums) as a polling station.
  • The Triple Crown of horse-racing was won by three different horses, with the Kentucky Derby – usually the first Saturday in May, not going off until September 5th, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Authentic taking charge at the top of the stretch to give him a record 6th win. Swiss Skydiver became the 6th filly in 145 years to win the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes (first, but usually last) cutting the distance from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/8, won by Tiz the Law  against a small field. Even if you’re a real horse fan, that’s still barely six minutes of action over three months though.
  • Baseball has begun its second round of playoffs at about the usual time, the LA Dodgers had the best regular season record (43-17) in NL, and the Tampa Bay Rays topped the AL (40-20). The Rays-Yanks Game 5 is Friday, no days off in the bubble.
“Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks…”

Oh, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won the Tour de France’s maillot jaune (yellow jersey) in dominant fashion, also taking the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey and white (best young rider under 25). Going into the time trial final stage, he was 57 seconds back of leader Primož Roglič, but made that up and beat him by 59 seconds.

In the cycling world (actually, most places) that’s getting crushed.

FOOTBALL – A traditional hold on Fall sports

But FOOTBALL! with its traditional hold on the Fall sports schedule, has brought back American weekends. Yes, there are Monday and Thursday games along the way, but a brewskie or twoskie and some salty snacks, that’s the deal to chill with, COVID to the rear of the bus. Having watched nine hours, from the 1:00 Panther game till the end of the 49ers-Eagles Sunday night game, the ‘Normal’ aspect of sports watching has returned with a flourish, although commercials during timeouts are LOADED with (frequently brutal) political ads.

OH BOY! Monday Night Football is a double header! “Hunkered down”

is just a little bit better with a 60″ screen and Tony Romo.

Sports are definitive

Sports are definitive – cool, even regular compared to everything else involved in this grinding Red-Blue struggle wrapped around a panemic absolute clarity delivered with instant replays. No chicanery, no long term battles over information, or who did what on which side of any philosophical line. In or out, catch/no catch, breaking the plane, the quarterback won’t play because of a knee injury, next guy up, period.

Its not a voting situation, and personal effort counts – their defensive end strip-sacks your QB (Brian Burns of Panthers has done it two weeks in a row, Grosse-Matos got one) and when everyone unpiles, guy with the ball at bottom is the only thing that counts. Dak Prescott (Dallas) throws for 502 yards and 4 TDs but Cowboys get taken to the shed 49-38 by the Cleveland Browns, all he gets is a quick “nice try, see you next week.”

Op-Ed – Off my chest

Debate-wise, there was nothing good to say about the embarassing level of negativity that the president pumped into the event for the entire 90 minutes on Tuesday. Having gotten my fill of athletic achievement the last two months, one experience I won’t repeat is watching even as much as the four brief snips of that debate I checked out. There was no honor or triumph to be had there, and trump’s ‘tactics’ certainly aren’t any ‘normal’ I believe befits the leader of this country. (Okay, a little editorializing)

The Panthers won because Coach Rhule seems to use almost everyone on the roster. Teddy Bridgewater has a steady hand on the wheel – more 13-play, 66 yard drives please! – and the coaches he brought to Charlotte, Snow and Joe Brady, who won the Broyles Award as the top assistant in college football last year, have made a difference quickly.

Tadej Pogačar won the Tour de France because he combined superb mountain climbing with the strength of will to triumph over 2,165 miles (21 stages, 23 days). America, unfortunately, will have to wait considerably longer to gain any real victory over COVID-19, but the potential dictator thing – thats over on November 3rd (or so).

And yessir, its true, “hunkered down” is just a little bit better with a 60″ screen and Tony Romo. (OH BOY! Monday Night Football is a double header!)

Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises 

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

COVID continues, 9-11 counts, NFL’s content was great Sunday, my NC ballot arrived

Of all the St. Gabe’s events that haven’t happened, our annual cookout for the Mens Shelter was a real loss

Having recently questioned whether American football had been forgotten, let’s put a legitimate stake in at least one national concern – NO. Without preseason games, when 53-man rosters (plus 16 on practice squads) were announced Labor Weekend, that kind of snuck up while I was watching all that hockey, but yes, games without fannies in the seats is happening.

Having all playoff hockey and hoops and baseball get interrupted last week was a great way to focus attention, and after watching three relevant, well-played, and produced games Sunday, there’s a quality of getting something done to a high level that should be considered a positive, very American vibe.

  • Starting with the local Panthers, whose fans have LOTS to be concerned about in 2020, after last two years (5-11, 7-9) were beyond rocky. No Cam, Luke, or Greg, all new coaches, and 30 people who weren’t on 53-man roster last year. At home against the Raiders, a 34-30 loss wasn’t unexpected, but on all other fronts, it easily fulfilled every expectation.
  • New QB Teddy Bridgewater spread it around with a 22/34 for 270 yards and TD day, and McCaffrey’s production – 23 rushes for 96 yards, 2 TDs plus 3/38 yards on catches was part of a good as anticipated Panther offensive mixture. That Bridgewater ran when necessary, four times for 24 yards, he’s not playing afraid of previous injuries. (Just saying, because Newton got clocked at goal line for New England because he couldn’t decide to get down or put his shoulder into it.)
  • DJ Moore (4/54 yds.), Curtis Samuel (5/38 yds.), and Robby Anderson (6/115 yds, TD) were all solid as hoped for, McCaffrey contributed of course, and TE Ian Thomas (2/16 yds.) got a taste as well.
  • Pharoh Cooper looked good on kickoffs (4/109) and punts (2/29), and while Joey Slye missed a PAT, he was 3-3 on field goals. Pretty much everybody did their jobs, including new safety-DB Jeremy Chinn with seven tackles.

Nothing for anyone in Charlotte to be at all discouraged about going forward, putting up thirty while knocking the competitive rust off is a much better view than almost anything last season. All systems responded nicely, even if Troy Pride, Jr. got way too good a look at Ruggs TD. Donte Jackson’s name will come up often this season, but he was out after the 11th play in opener, opening the door for Chinn.

The Raiders Derek Carr was a respectable 22/30, 239 yds, TD, but it was RB Joshua Jacobs 25/93 and 3 TDs on the ground that made the difference – the Panthers defensive line will be a problem until its not. Ruggs III TD catch was after the ‘Bama star had a 45-yd. gainer and before getting injured, a reason to still be concerned about the secondary after only giving up one passing TD.

Through many hours of viewing

Two things that came through across many hours of viewing: What’s supposedly a player-driven awareness of social aspects – the Milwaukee Bucks started the whole “no sports, so think about shooting another black man for a day” – was put forth every step of the way from Thursday – Sunday night. Overall, the ability to keep “the product” so well-done technically doesn’t appear less valid to me, lacking a season ticket but with a big screen and six pack. Isn’t it a gas how they’ve gotten the crowd cues for EXTRA excited about certain plays, like go-ahead TDs and OT goals?

Many questioned how ‘no fannies sports’ would go over – mark me down as believing crowds keep the pandemic alive, and for the entertainment factor all the current sports provide without that negative, things can actually be called Normal on that front. I’m taking that as a positive of the TV sports moment, not an absolute approval of being without social interfacing over cold ones.

As noted about previous hockey watching (Go STARS! in the Finals), we’re seeing everyone’s best effort, including stats and studio people, while skill is still what winning is about, with intense analysis and replays when necessary. In the current political climate, the idea of Fairness comes out as righteous – we’d like to think that’s not JUST a sports expectation.

Was this 19th year of 9-11 rememberance less significant?

Was this 19th year of 9-11 rememberance any less significant during our trying national times? Given the recent use of pegoratives by the president regarding those who lost their lives in battle, was there a stiffening of national will that THOSE 9-11 AMERICANS – lost a while ago in that War on Terror theme – wouldn’t be thought of as ‘losers’ much longer by this stain on ‘Merica’s pride, dammit?

Millions spilled their collective guts protesting all summer, thankfully, apparently, without the wicked consequences of COVID infection seen by other, often maskless masses. Serious props to the Moms and every other stripe of America that stood together in Portland. Nah nah nah nah, hey hey – GOOD BYE! to Fed thugs. Being tear-gassed for freedom of assembly and “Let’s roll!” on 9-11, same heroes by me.

You want a memory of 9-11, replay this Jon Stewart speech https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uYpDC3SRpM to the bummer treatment a roomful of first responders got in Congress. Yes, we can do better, and I’d have *sworn* we had this malfeasance, and sexual-racial and environmental situations – including Roe v. Wade – locked down legally back in the Seventies.

Perhaps, yet there’s also been room to talk about lessons the upheaval that COVID and ‘social unrest’ have brought. Its uncomfortable at times, yet the personal spots, like Calais Campbell of the Jaguars in a spotlight, shows how articulate they are about this cause. If you’ve heard LeBron’s ‘More Than a Vote’ spot, SPORTS continues making a social difference. https://lebronwire.usatoday.com/2020/09/15/lebron-james-narrates-new-video-for-more-than-a-vote/

Don’t take TV as mollifying the masses

For the record, the best record in baseball belongs to the LA Dodgers, their 33-14 being just ahead of the San Diego Padres 31-17. Tampa Bay’s Rays (30-17) are four games ahead of the Yankees, and OAKLAND leads the AL West by six with a 29-18 mark.

The other games that were kind of Must See TV, was Future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady’s first game in Tampa Bay (34-23 loss to Saints, 23/36, 239 yds,, 2/2 TDs-INTs) after all that legendary stuff for the Patriots, and seeing the absolute glory of the sports palace of all time as the Rams (Chargers home too) beat the Cowboys 20-17 at the end of NFL Week 1.

(I use that Future HOF thing like when sportswriters used ‘Marvelous’ so often, boxer Marvin Hagler changed his first name)

The Kentucky Derby has a worthy winner, 8-1 AUTHENTIC going wire to wire, and becoming trainer Bob Baffert’s record sixth victory. May or September it was a grand run, especially the whole stretch after getting caught right after the final turn, when Authentic pulled away decisively.

HEY, ‘MERICA! You got that kind of kick in you?

I obviously didn’t get to attend the local Queen’s Cup Steeplechases in late April, and that difference is kept in mind when watching TV – its not the same thing as picnic baskets and friends and hats and cornhole and dressing up and LOTS of people to dance with.

Sunday was nine hours of football, several beers, terrific chili, a washed car, and 30 minutes shooting hoops. Does sports mean something more at this point? A qualified ‘Yes’ seems legitimate, because anger won’t really change anything. Many days before, football watching would be a simple fact of life, relaxing, a little extra Yay! if the home team won, so putting it down as lacking in urgency relative to big world problems, not to worry. Hey, at least there’s an actual difference to WEEKENDS now.

Fifty days to go was yesterday

I received my North Carolina ballot Saturday, two days after my brother, who sent in for his weeks before I did – timing was as expected when NC was first in the country to send on the 5th. No postal service on Monday, Labor Day, so all good on that part of things. Plan is to deliver to Board of Elections, and I’m most of the way on decision to become a poll worker.

Recognizing anything like that puts extra risk into my personal situation, I’ve been hunkered down for a while, maybe this is the time for being part of a necessary solution vs. relying on others? https://cdtalententerprises.com/2020/03/30/hoops-heat-for-lockdown-prep-weekend-worries-about-ny/ I think so.

I okayed (and paid for) a background check for Team Rubicon while examining what else is necessary for deployment with this GSD (Get Shit Done) organization. Its a process, you have to *prove* you belong with the mission, and there’s no problem having a standard like that to work from, right?

And don’t worry, just because 1,000 people voted twice in GA, that doesn’t mean I’ll do anything because the prez suggests it.

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

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

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

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

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

Fond farewells and new Rhule’s are legitimate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have no interest…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cam vs. Bridgewater

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

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

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

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

DEFENSE! Well…

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

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

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

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

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

Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises 

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