As our season draws closer, the season previews will start to appear. Some may be ridiculously early, but when they start they will flood in regardless. One thing I have noticed about the people on this site is how optimistic we are generally. There's a few Negative Nelly's, and some Sensible Sal's, but mostly we are all Optimistic Olly's, especially the self-proclaimed Olly Aussie James. :) As a result, any season predictions will most likely be on the positive side. I've seen most range from 11-5 to 13-3, with the occassional above and under. What I want to do here is not give an exact prediction, but more of a prognostication. There are two things I've learned in my (five) years of watching football, one; it's unpredictable. There is no way to accurately predict a season, there are far too many variables. Every play depends on a series of movements by eleven men on both sides of the ball that must be in perfect timing to work the way it's designed. It rarely does. Two; every student of the game, casual or hard core, has biases, and those are reflected in his analysis of the game. Those biases are in personality and team or player preference, usually. For example we'll have people like Steven who are wildly optimistic about the season and players, compared to people like El Bacon who are more cautious, even borderline negative. Heck, you'll see my personality, and team and player preference in the below article despite my best attempts to remain objective. What I'm getting at from all of that is that generally the truth is somewhere in the middle of both extremes. With that in mind, let's see what the middle ground is.
We'll start with the offense. When most people say Carolina and offense, the thing that immediately comes to mind is the ground game and Double Trouble. And of course Steve Smith. With such a powerful trio, how come we aren't considered a top offense. Simple, according to most fans. Quarterback. Matt Moore has never started a full season, and has hardly sixteen starts to his name. Jimmy Clausen is a rookie, and the most hated QB since Phillip Rivers (or Tim Tebow). Tony Pike is built like, well, a pike, and Hunter Cantwell is a relative unknown to anyone who doesn't follow college ball. From that view, it looks grim
That's what the national media says, what Carolina fans say is that we have two talented, young, potential franchise stars. Moore's path has mirrored Tony Romo's so far, and for all of his faults, Romo is a heck of a QB. Clausen was regarded by many as one of the most polished QB's to come out of the draft in recent memory. So what if they don't have experience and/or notoriety, their talent will make up for it. In fact that seems to be our theme regarding Carolina. To hell with experience and fame, we'll make our name with unknowns who can flat out ball, and have a hunger to do so.
This is epitomized by Julius Peppers. Possibly one of the most talented players to ever put on an NFL uniform is gone, and the national media says, "Who's replacing him again?" Whereas we say we have a talented, young, and HUNGRY stable of ends ready to take over and beast. Everette Brown, Charles Johnson, Greg Hardy, and Eric Norwood, with Tyler Brayton held over. Chris Harris is traded, the media say's, "Uh oh, he was a force in that secondary." And while some of us have the stones to say he was a slow force :raises hand:, many just say he was flat out slow, and that Sherrod Martin is everything he was except in a faster package. Armanti Edwards to the rest of the world is a Division II prospect, to us he's the heir apparent to Steve Smith. Our secondary was helped by a poor running game, while we say our secondary was really our strength last year and this year. Moore is an undrafted QB who is succeeding a Carolina legend, to us he's the guy who threw eight scores to one INT in five starts. Our defensive tackle position is a wasteland, but to us, they are flowers waiting to bloom. Tony Fiametta is replacing one of the top blocking FB's in the game today, but yet we only averaged six YPC less with him in. Our linebackers are good, especially Beason, but our depth has been hurt, especially with the Davis injury. And the last straw for many, Steve Smith is a thug who's tough guy act has recently been, umm, broken, but we know him as possibly one of the most electric players to play since Michael Vick, without the baggage of either Vick or Chris Johnson.
So what is the middle ground here? You decide.