This afternoon ESPN's Chris Mortensen appeared on WFNZ in Charlotte to talk about the NFL in general, but mostly the Carolina Panthers. Following the loss to Tennessee much of the fan base has been in a tail spin for much of the week, petrified that 2010 is happening all over again. Mortensen put the breaks on that sentiment quickly, and gave some much needed national perspective from an outside observer
"I've talked to several coaches around the league and when I ask them about Carolina the feeling is "better get 'em now" because this team wont be as easy to beat a year, or two years from now"
It's reassuring to hear from a national source that people with much better football minds than I'll ever have are still not only respecting the Panthers, but fearing what they will be in the near future. Mortensen went on to say that the way the Panthers are regarded around the NFL is 'nothing like' the way they were in 2010, saying he felt Carolina had one of the best off-seasons of any team.
If you follow me on twitter you'll know I had a minor freak-out/rant regarding sentiments expressed on WFNZ on Monday about pinning this season on Marty Hurney, or not getting a cornerback like Carlos Rodgers or Jonathan Joseph. I felt this kind of analysis was puerile, and never really examined the breadth of the issue. I'm glad WFNZ chose to ask Mortensen about Hurney, and even gladder they didn't get the answer they were hoping for. When asked if Hurney should go unless the Panthers win seven-straight games Mortensen was rather mystified
"Everyone knows what this team's weaknesses are. They've been hit by injuries, their linebackers right now are weak and their secondary needs more talent, but Marty's done a fine job. They're close right now, and a lot of people around the league really like the talent on their roster, it's just going to take a little more time."
A little more time... it should become our mantra for 2011. It's not just CSR writers, or Panthers 'homers' who see the value in just letting this process play out, but on the national stage teams realize the Panthers are close; perhaps we're still getting punched in the head a little bit, but soon we'll learn to punch back.
At the time of this writing there is not an archived version of the interview. All quotes should not be considered verbatim.