Last week I asked everyone who reads this blog who has a burning question to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would have a new forum like this if you're looking for information on a topic we haven't covered on the blog, or just something you've always been curious about. I would like to thank everyone for the great response. Without further ado let's get started!
"Brandon Hogan: What is the latest news on him? Is he getting healthy? Will we see him this year?"
Yes Sam, we should start seeing Brandon Hogan integrated into the team when he is released from the PUP list following week six. Hogan is currently continuing to rehab the ACL injury he sustained during the latter part of 2010, but due to the rules of the PUP list we is not able to practice with the team until the six weeks are up. Based on the moves we've seen at cornerback (or lack thereof) it seems the Panthers are holding open a spot for the rookie CB.
More after the jump
The next question(s) we had were from a young Panthers fan looking for some more perspective on the early years of the franchise.
What happened with Kerry Collins off the field issues? How come we only went far once in the 90's? How great was Sam Mills? (I have his jersey even though I've never seen him play) How awesome was the D w Lathon/ Greene in 96 and what happened in NFCCG? What were the expectations when the team brought in Reggie White and then later George Seifert?
Alright... you have a lot of different questions here, but here we go.
- Kerry Collins: With Collins I need to step back, remove all emotion from the issue and be as clinical as possible in order to give you a fair answer. Simply put, he wasn't mentally ready to take the role the Carolina Panthers were asking him to. He entered the league with a lot of promise, but not a lot of maturity and when you couple that lack of maturity with being asked to step in and be the face of a new franchise it's an unenviable task. It seemed like Collins was starting to get it following the 1996 season, but after a 0-4 start in '97 he told then head Coach Dom Capers that his heart wasn't in football anymore. The lead in to the 1997 season was already bad, and it was clear that during this time he began to struggle with alcohol. This was the time he allegedly used racial slurs directed at Muhsin Muhammad and OL Norberto Garrido. I'm sure these events helped push Collins to the brink, but the best was to think of it is a guy who was too young and too immature to be a leader.
- Sam Mills: Simply put, Sam Mills was a great player but probably an even better human being. The shame with looking at a career of someone like Mills is the lack of tackle stats to give you some perspective, but he was routinely right around 100 tackles as well as the bevy of other stats he got. His 1995 season could be one of the best years from a 3-4 ILB in NFL history. I honestly can't remember the last time an inside linebacker totaled near 100 tackles, 4.5 sacks AND 5 interceptions from the position. Mills was an absolute beast on the field... and like I said, a better man off of it. He was a consummate leader and professional who was active in the community and honestly, thinking about and talking about Mills now brings tears to my eyes so let's just leave it by saying he was great, and his statue outside BoA is very much deserved.
- Lathon and Greene: Imagine the Pittsburgh Steelers now with Lamar Woodley and James Harrison and then turn the dial up to 11... that's what Capers' 3-4 with Lathon and Greene was like. The defense was just insanely aggressive and ruinous as they stopped opposing QBs. Those two coming off the edge were literally unstoppable, and as they combined for 28 sacks in 1996. The Lathon and Greene situation leads perfectly into answering your question about the lack of success in the 90's other than the early part. Basically the Panthers were living on borrowed time. Jerry Richardson made the absolute right call in asking GM Bill Polian to build him a team that would win immediately, because this is what stimulated PSL sales and is the reason we have a team today. However, this meant that there was a severe drain on cultivating young talent, and when this was coupled with terrible drafting it lead to a situation where the Panthers got very old, very quickly.
- The 1996 NFCCG: The Packers were a lot like the Panthers, but they were just a better version of us, especially on offense. In the game itself Karry Collins couldn't move the ball down field while Brett Favre could. We also had absolutely no running game and when all this was coupled with dealing with the Frozen Tundra (literally, it was 3 degrees at game time) the Panthers just weren't ready for that game.
- Reggie White and George Seifert: Looking at the resumes of both Seifert and White it seemed like a dream come true for the Panthers, but what became apparant with Siefert was that he he had no ability to evaluate or cultivate talent very well. He walked in a well built team in San Francisco and was able to coach them well, but when he was asked to build the Carolina Panthers he was unable to. Similarly, Reggie White was 39 before he came to Carolina, and despite coming off a monster 16 sack season with the Packers he just looked like he was at the end of his rope. White was a bandaid brought in to try and patch a bullet hole.
I was wondering, with all the injuries of past injuries (Davis's ACL, Beason's heel, etc. etc. etc.) at what point do we start to question if the Panther medical staff doesn't seem to know what they're doing and might be the reason for all the re-injured injuries we've been hit with so far this season.
It sure feels that way, doesn't it Jason? Unfortunately I think what you're seeing with the injuries is really the perfect storm that started with the NFL lockout. It's hard to imagine just how machine-like NFL players are when it comes to their body, and when you don't have a professional strength and conditioning staff working every single day to ensure they're working out the right way and not underworking any muscles we tend to see these problems. It's not just the Panthers who are hurting, it's an epidemic around the league.
While I don't doubt Thomas Davis was rushed back a little too quickly in 2010, as far as 2011 goes it was really just a freak accident and with Beason nobody could have foreseen the achilles tear; they did what they could to prevent it, but he needed surgery either way and elected to play until it snapped rather than hitting IR and having it fixed early.
We'll have the second part of 'Ask CSR' later today