Update: The Rebuttal
I got an email earlier today from Mr. Stevens who is none too happy with the post below. You will see he offers some explanation for his original comments which I've posted below the jump. I'll let you be the judge of his arguments. In some cases though I had to insert my comments which I have put in bold.
I do regret picking this fight only from the standpoint that the last thing I really wanted was to get into a pissing contest but...here we are. Those of you that have been reading this blog for a while know this is not my normal method of operation and I assure you I don't intend to waste your time with future petty bickering. With that I also felt it would not be fair to at least let Mr. Stevens offer a rebuttal (but of course he could have simply signed up and posted his response).
It's one thing when I guy like Mel Kiper gives you a "C" on your draft report card; the guy has been in the scouting business a long time and has earned the right to make such evaluations whether you agree with him or not. It's a whole other thing when some kid named Andrew Stevens from the Goldsboro News-Argus (
somewhere near Greensboro, NC Eastern, NC) calls your draft picks "questionable" and then lays out a completely BS argument in his piece titled Opinion -- Carolina makes questionable picks in 2009 NFL Draft.
It's been a while since I've taken apart a journalist so I'm going to try and be professional here but my blood pressure is up! So where to start? How about the second sentence:
Carolina's offseason blunders began by not signing a single player in free agency to address needs at wide receiver, defensive back and both the offensive and defensive line.
Umm...that would be because the Panthers didn't have enough cap space to buy a used Lexus. Where have you been Andrew? There's that little issue with the franchise tag on Julius Peppers that swallowed a ton of cap space. Sure, maybe they should have re-signed Delhomme sooner but you failed to mention that at all.
He continues on the Delhomme rant but seems to argue both sides:
Delhomme threw for over 250 yards just four times last season and had one or fewer touchdown passes in 13 different games... Carolina is 54-33 in the regular season and the playoffs over the past six seasons when Delhomme starts.
The Panthers still went 12-4 on a run-oriented team in spite of Delhomme' apparently ‘woeful' performances and he's won 21 more than he lost. He then cements his ineptitude on recent events with this one:
Carolina chose to pass on Jay Cutler when the former Denver quarterback was on the trading block ...
Did you not see what the Bears gave up to get Cutler? The Panthers didn't ‘pass' on Cutler, they didn't even have the ante to get in the game, which was a 1st round pick in this years draft. They didn't pass on crap.
Moving on to the next topic:
Carolina made a pair of puzzling picks in the fourth round, selecting tailback Mike Goodson from Texas A&M and fullback Tony Fiammetta of Syracuse....Running the football clearly isn't an area of concern for Carolina, which makes the selections of Goodson and Fiammetta somewhat questionable.
Again Andrew, did you do any research before publishing this shallow analysis? The Panthers quickly pointed out that Goodson will try his hand in the slot and returning kicks as well as provide depth as a 3rd RB. Fiammetta will be groomed to replace the aging Brad Hoover at FB. Believe it or not but the FB is sort of a key cog in the Panther running game, which you correctly pointed out ranked 3rd in the NFL last year.
He then jumps on the ‘Panthers Needed a WR' bandwagon:
There were nine wide receivers taken in the first two rounds of last weekend's draft and 35 were selected overall. Passing on the opportunity to give an aging and streaky quarterback another deep threat could come back to haunt Carolina.
Seven of the nine he mentions were already gone by #43 and the other two were Pat White and UGA's Mohamed Massaquoi. Neither was worth where they were drafted in my view nor were they worth the #59 pick. You could argue with picking a true WR instead of the Goodson pick but any rookie WR drafted in the 4th round will struggle to crack the 3rd string on this team, but again that argument wasn't made.
So let's get to the grand finale of Steven's 'opinion':
There's a reason why franchises such as New England, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis have proven draft track records that correlate to on-field success.
As long as the Panthers continue to play it close to the vest off the field, the organization and its fans will continue to reap what it sows.
So what is the reason Andrew? What's the correlation? That the winning teams pick good players in the draft? Holy smokes you might be on to something there! You have to be freaking kidding me right? And so the Panthers better stop playing it ‘close to the vest' or they will ‘reap what they sow'? They reaped a 12-4 record and a NFC South division crown in 2008. Damn, they must be doing something wrong. Maybe they should gamble a little and let's say...trade a future first round pick for a potential impact player? Now that would be doing something.
I've had some fun with Andrew and trying to figure out what his opinion actually was. After reading his bio it does explain some of his naivety, he's young and apparently has only written for lets say some 'local' rags:
Andrew Stevens graduated in Dec. of 2005 from Liberty University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Before arriving at Liberty, Stevens spent two years at Milligan College in Johnson City, TN. In the summer of 2005, Stevens worked as a sports intern at the Burlington Times News in Burlington, N.C. Stevens served as Assistant Sports Editor for Liberty's student newspaper The Champion in the fall of 2005. After graduating from Liberty, Stevens spent a year and a half as a sports writer with the Martinsville Bulletin in Martinsville, Virginia, before coming to the News-Argus. Stevens is from Eden, N.C.
I guess when you have a distribution of about 500 in rural NC you're not used to people expecting you to actually do research. If Andrew should read this I apologize, I've been a bit harsh but it was just damn fun and way too easy. Okay, I'll stop now...or I'll never stop laughing long enough to go to bed tonight!
Mr. Stevens Rebuttal: [my comments in brackets]
First, let me start by saying I appreciate you taking the time to read my column. The fact that you're willing to rip me on the internet is an honor. I appreciate the publicity [your welcome]. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and it's pretty clear you have your opinion as well.
However, I feel my opinions are valid and yes I am a Panthers fan as well. I realize that you're the moderator of a Panthers fan board so when anyone writes anything negative about the Panthers it gets you all upset [not really]. Which makes me wonder if you actually work in journalism or if you're just a fan boy [Actually the correct term is 'Blogger'] that runs a message board?
I'm baffled by your allegiance to Jake Delhomme. The guy throws five interceptions in the most important game of the season last year, and if you think the guy is franchise quarterback material you're kidding yourself.
Also, if you think Carolina doesn't need a legitimate receiver to go along with Smith and Muhsin Muhammad you apparently haven't been watching the same team. Muhammad was the only Panthers receiver to catch a pass of 60 yards or longer last season while Smith had six of Carolina's 15 touchdown catches a year ago. This is one reason later in the season Delhomme was trying to force passes to Smith that weren't there, thus the 12 interceptions he threw last season. You say in YOUR opinion that Pat White nor Mohamed Massaquoi were worth where they were drafted. Sure, Carolina may not have had a need for a player like Pat White, but I completely disagree that the Panthers couldn't have used Massaquoi. I'm not buying the fact that Muhsin Muhammad, D.J. Hackett, Jeff King, Dwayne Jarrett or Dante Rosario give Carolina a viable deep threat capable of stretching the field the way Smith does [Massaquoi a deep threat? He ran a 4.6 at the combine, the same as Jarrett]. Sure, you can win games in the NFL with a solid running attack and one legitimate receiver but you can't win championships. Look at the elite teams in the NFL right, Indianapolis, New England [didn't make the playoffs in 2008] and Pittsburgh for example, they have at least one real deep threat [which the Panthers do] and multiple other receivers that keep defenses honest. Carolina doesn't have that and that's one major area where they dropped the ball in free agency and the draft.
As far as my final point in the column, yes the Steelers, Colts and Patriots typically draft well and make picks that translate into success on the field. They draft smart [examples?], not safe, and at times they're willing to take risks. As long as Carolina continues to avoid rolling the dice once in a while and being overly loyal to players past their prime they'll always come up short in their quest for a championship.
The last thing I want to say is I don't have a problem with you attacking my opinions of the Panthers draft picks. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion [I never disagreed with your right to an opinion, just that as a paid sports writer that you identify what you are basing your derogatory opinions on].
However, when you start to attack my career, where I've worked in the past and the circulaton of those papers you show me what type of person you really are. Maybe if you spent more time researching your precious Panthers or better yet, doing something PRODUCTIVE and not looking up who I am, where I'm from and where I went to school [it took all of two clicks] you would be better off. Stay classy and enjoy watching the Panthers be mediocre again in 2009 [mediocre again? and you call yourself a fan?].
So there is his explanation my fellow Panther fans. I still can't help but chuckle at some of his comments, like 'fan boy', when I know I'm old enough to be his daddy. I could go on and on but I really have no interest in carrying this on. Since I'm sure Andrew will be reading this at some, all I have to say is "Look me up at Panthers Training Camp" and I'll buy you a beer and hopefully we can laugh about this. Only then when you see the QB drills will you know why I still think Delhomme presents the Panthers best chance to win in '09.