Welcome Panthers fans to this weeks edition of Blogger Q&A. The Panthers travel to Cleveland so that means we've got Chris Pokorny with Dawgs By Nature answering our questions. You can check out my answers to his questions here.
So here we go:
Question 1. If all three of your QBs were healthy who would be starting this weekend and why? How would the rest of the QB depth chart look?
Chris: Colt McCoy would be the starter if all three quarterbacks were healthy. I didn't think I would be able to say that until next season at the earliest, but injuries to Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace changed that. Once McCoy played, he grasped the offense right away, showed good mobility, and had leadership skills for being a rookie. McCoy appeared further along in his development stage than we could have imagined, so now there is really no need to have a veteran guide the ship until McCoy is "ready."
With all three quarterbacks healthy, the depth chart would look like this: (1) Colt McCoy, (2) Jake Delhomme, (3) Seneca Wallace. That depth chart isn't really meant to trash Wallace, who played quite well earlier this season in the Browns' system. However, Delhomme fits the "mentor" role a bit better than Wallace does, much like it seemed like Delhomme was ready to "mentor" Matt Moore at the end of last season.
Too bad we can't see these two rookie QB's go head to head. As it is, we get to see if the Panthers can use their knowledge of Delhomme to get him to make a few mistakes.Question 2. So how bad did you guys abuse Denver in the Hillis for Quinn trade? So is Hillis really as good as the stats he's putting up or is it simply good blocking and play-calling?
Chris: We abused Denver bad. We acquired a player who likes like a Pro Bowl running back for a quarterback who might never start again in the NFL. On top of that, Denver threw us a couple low-round draft picks for good measure. Hillis is definitely is good as his stats would indicate -- in fact, I'd go as far as to say that he is better than his stats would indicate, because he wasn't the team's official "starter" until a couple of games into the season. Any good running game needs superior blocking, but here is how you can tell that a lot of Hillis' success has to do with himself: this year, the other two running backs who have seen a few carries besides Hillis, Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell, ran for no gain or one yard any time they entered the game. Hillis drives the piles forward and injures other players, not intentionally, but just because he's such a massive force.
Since I drafted Harrison in FFL and then dropped him because he sucked I know Chris speaks the truth about Hillis ability. The Panther defense better be ready for the big guy.
Question 3. Do you guys miss WR Braylon Edwards? Who's your best offensive player beyond Hillis?
Chris: We don't miss Braylon Edwards whatsoever because of his attitude. A lot of people think we miss his talent, but we really don't. In the 2008 season, one of the reasons Derek Anderson had a terrible year was because Edwards dropped so many wide open touchdown opportunities. Any time we threw him the ball, he dropped it. Even when he was with the Jets last season, he wasn't much better in terms of catching the football. He finally seems to have corrected his issue with dropping the football in New York this year, but we still don't miss him because he has verbally trashed the city of Cleveland way too much since leaving. Without counting Joshua Cribbs (who is special utility type of player), our best offensive player beyond Hillis is tight end Ben Watson. New England fans warned us about his bad hands at times, but he has been a reliable target for all three of our quarterbacks this season and is the team's leading receiver.
Sounds like they feel about Edwards like we feel about Peppers. Watson being the 2nd best player on offense though I found to be a surprising answer.
Question 4. How is CB Joe Haden playing? Should the Panthers throw his way?
Chris: For a rookie, Joe Haden is having a pretty good season. He hasn't done anything this season that would encourage opposing teams to throw it his way. I'm not saying he is a shutdown corner by any means, but he's not a liability. If you're going to throw it toward someone, it'll definitely be Eric Wright. Wright, who was our No. 1 cornerback last season and seemed like a solid player, has been horrible this year in coverage. He constantly seems lost and has given up wide open long touchdown passes. With that said, Wright missed almost all of last week's game after suffering a knee injury early on. He isn't expected to play, and truth be told, I feel more confident about our secondary without him in the lineup.
Clausen will have to take his shots down field to keep the Browns from loading the box. Their secondary should be allow Gettis some space as they focus on Smitty.
Question 5. If the Panthers are to score 20+ points on the Browns defense what must they do?
Chris: This might seem like a copout answer, but our defense has done a pretty good job at keeping opposing teams from reaching the end zone very often. Therefore, Carolina's defense is going to have to "set up" the Panthers' offense with fantastic field position often by forcing turnovers on Jake Delhomme. The Browns' defense has been good at not allowing rushing touchdowns (they have only given up two this season), so if Carolina scores 20+ points, they'll probably have to settle with a lot of John Kasay kicks.
Just more evidence the Panthers will need the vertical passing game this weekend if they are to pull out their 2nd win of the season. I'm glad RB Jonathan Stewart will be back but the Panthers will need the passing game to put up significant points.