Panther Paw Prints: Patriots Edition

So was everyone else could off guard with the sudden brew ha ha involving the Panthers? I mean, a Panther players actually said something in a post-game interview that was slightly controversial. We aren't used to this type of controversy are we? I found Tom brady's rebuttal more ahrd hitting than that by Bilichick:

Tom Brady defends Randy Moss, deflects criticism of effort - ESPN Boston

"Everyone takes liberty to say whatever they want to say in a situation like [Sunday]," Brady told WEEI. "I've seen plenty of plays made on Chris Gamble, too, over the course of the season."

From the same link, Gamble was just stating the obvious:

"Some of his body language let me know it was a run, and that's how I got a feel on when to help out on the run," he told "I think if he came off the ball and had a little Wes Welker in him, you wouldn't know what was coming. That's what I think Moss needs to do -- be like Wes and go hard every play. I'm going to respect him, and every other [defensive back] is going to respect him if he comes off the ball hard."

And some people say Moss is a sure-fire HoFer? He isn't even the best WR on his team at the moment:

Ron Borges’ Patriots Report Card -
Welker is the polar opposite, taking more hits than Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partners. He had 10 catches for 105 yards, mostly in the middle of the field, including five for 64 on the go-ahead 96-yard TD drive. Welker was flattened by safety Charles Godfrey to start the drive but held on to the ball. After getting up slowly he had a 13-yard catch the next play to convert on third down and kept finding open spaces in Carolina’s secondary the rest of the half.

Geez did we miss the boat on Welker. I agree with those saying we should run Smith from the slot running Welker type drags and crossing patterns. Seems to make sense but it couldn't be that easy. 

John Fox press conferences are about as insightful as a Delta SkyMall magazine, but I still found myself curious as to what Fox might say this time out given the latest blow to a sour season. As usual Fox gave few real insight into what he is thinking but I have a question. In his journey to avoid blaming any one aspect of the Panthers offense isn't he indicting the coaching staff?

Foxhole: Searching for more offense
Contrary to popular belief I'd like to be able to throw the ball better. The reality is we haven't. There is a lot of moving parts. I don't think it's just the quarterback. That's easy to sit and be critical of. Sometimes I think it's been protection; sometimes I think it's been routes; sometimes I think it's been the throw. That's kind of where it is, and all we can do is try to improve it.

If that many aspects of your offense are misfiring maybe its time for some significant 'firing'! Want some more ammunition, he gives DE Julius Peppers a passing grade for the goose egg (0 tackles) he put up against the Patriots.

Injuries continue piling up after latest defeat | The Herald - Rock Hill, SC
"I thought Julius rushed the passer well," Fox said. "(The Patriots') passing game gets rid of the ball fast. I thought, all in all, our pass defense was pretty good. We could have done a little better. I thought we were outstanding on third down; they only converted three of (11). I was a little disappointed in our run defense, but if you go back through the record books, I'm not sure how many games they've been held to 20 and won, but I guarantee you there's not too many times where someone scored 10 and beat them."

I've tried to be patient with Peppers and understand he sees double teams every week but that doesn;t stop the other top DEs int he league.The Patriots were certainly happy with their rookie LT that lined up on Peppers at times:

Patriots journal: Vollmer makes a name for himself with solid play | New England Patriots | | The Providence Journal
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he liked what he saw out of Vollmer, who handled Carolina Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers very well when he was in the game. Peppers had only one quarterback hurry and that was against Kaczur. "Sebastian has done a nice job for us this year," Belichick said. "He hasn’t had a great football background compared to some of our other players, but he’s a very smart guy that works hard. He’s got very good talent and he’s a hard worker. He’s picked up a lot of other things that we’ve asked him to do — which are different than what he’s done in the past — pretty quickly. He’s got a good sense of humor. I think he fits in well with the team.

Here's something that did surprise me about Peppers this week, he spoke:

Minutes: Not playing the blame game
"Of course there's disappointment and frustration. I feel like we're a better football team than what our record shows," defensive end Julius Peppers said. "But that doesn't mean anything. The record is what we go by. What I think and how I think the makeup of this team is doesn't really matter. But it's frustrating to know that we could have won a couple of (more) games."

Just a couple more wins? If the season had gone well we'd be what? 7-6? I boatload of inspiration he is not.

If you were wondering about which two players were in motion at the same time it is finally explained, its was where the o-lineman had not settled before the WR went in motion:

Patriots, penalties rain down on Panthers
"A couple of times I'm not sure we were set with our offensive line before motion, and that's what they were getting us on," Fox said. "On one of them, we kind of rushed it, but on one drive, we had a couple of them," added left tackle Travelle Wharton. "I still don't have any idea what was going on. I just know that we were going in a different direction than we needed to go in."

Isn't that some really basic stuff? You can't blame the young QB on that....speaking of young QBs I'm thinking we need a couple more of them.

Darin Gantt's Panthers Blog | The Herald - Rock Hill, SC
At the moment, here are the Panthers' personnel priorities entering the offseason: WR/DE (to replace Peppers when they move him out)/another WR/young QB/DT/OL/CB.

I would think we are set at DT but firmly agree we need help at WR. My top 3: QB, WR, OT. Here's one young QB that won't wear Panther blue next year:

Quarterback Jake Locker to return to Washington for senior season - ESPN
"After a great deal of careful thought and deliberation, I have decided to return to Washington and play my senior year," Locker said in a statement. "I am very excited about this team's opportunities and potential for the upcoming season and I am looking forward to being a part of it."

That is one less QB taken between us and Tony Pike (if you think Pike is the guy the Panthers need).

Don't forget this weeks game is the Sunday Night Special against the Vikings. The line opened at +7 for the Panthers and the over/under at 42.5. They must be expecting the Vikings to put up 35 on us.

Minnesota Vikings versus Carolina Panthers NBC TV Sunday Night Pro Football Odds Sports Betting Pick Preview  |
The LVSC NFL odds makers have set the opening point spread in this game and the Minnesota Vikings opened as a 7 point road favorite with the over under coming in at 42 ½.


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