If you haven't been reading Carolina Growl.com lately, you should! Steve Reed is doing a five-part series entitled the "State of the Panthers". It seems Carolina is coming out of the shadows with the media and revealing some of the things the team will do to improve. In the past Carolina would have never revealed the style of offense they would employ, especially after a major coaching overhaul. I guess the cloak and daggers act has been lifted for the time being. Of course, the team woon't reveal everything they are doing, but its nice as a fan to have more information than "just day-to-day" or "it what it is". Sorry had to get a Foxism in there somewhere. Take a look at the article from Carolinagrowl.com. below after the jump (I also interject some commentary in there as well.)
STATE OF THE PANTHERS (Part 2): Panthers will pattern offense after Chargers
When you think of the Carolina Panthers’ offense next season, envision the San Diego Chargers.
Written by Steve Reed ednesday, February 09, 2011 4:59 pm
Well, at least that’s the team the Panthers hope to model their offensive blueprint after, although certain variations and tweaks are inevitable based on the personnel on hand.
The Chargers didn’t make the playoffs last season but did finish first in total offense.
Rob Chudzinski, who worked as San Diego’s tight ends coach last season, will run Carolina’s offense and he’ll bring several qualities from his former team, including the long overdue incorporation of the tight end into the passing game.
"That will be the system," general manager Marty Hurney said of the Panthers expected emulation of the Chargers offense. "You can take the same system and different teams can run it and have different identities and different personalities with it. But yes, that will be the system we bring offensively."
Commentary: It should be interesting to see how our personnel will fit into the mold of a San Diego style offense. We have the running backs and O-line( when healthy) but lack the Tight End and Quarterback. But as least the tight end will do more than just block! That position has been under used since Wesley Walls was a Panther. The Tight End can be a Quarterback's best friend and Jimmy may need a couple of those after a dismal 2010 season. One thing is for sure this position will definitely be addressed. The question is who can fill these voids?
In 2010, Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers threw for a career-high 4,710 yards and 30 touchdowns, running backs Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews combined for 18 touchdown runs and tight end Antonio Gates caught 50 passes for 782 yards and 10 scores despite missing six games with an injury. Third-down back Darren Sproles led the team with 59 catches, but was one of 13 players with at least 10 catches last season as Rivers spread the ball around on a well-balanced attack.
Of course, the big challenge for the Panthers will be getting the pieces in place to run the Chargers system.
And that means finding a quarterback who plays with confidence and can make plays in the passing game, a tight end that can stretch the field, throwing more to the backs out of the backfield and making sure receivers get open and make big plays downfield.
The most pressing need, obviously, is at quarterback.
Commentary: Those statistics are staggering. Could you imagine that type of offensive output from our Panthers? I wouldnt believe it if I saw it with my own eyes. The type of personnel we have now seem better suited for that style of offense. More uptempo and unpredicatable. I think we will see how valuable Mike Goodson will become to this offense. He can catch out of the backfield better than DeAngelo or Jonathan. Just get Mike in space and let him work. I am sure we will see him lined up at receiver sometimes.This new coaching staff will find ways to get our playmakers on the field. Armanti, I hope you just read that last statement. The only pieces we are missing are the Quarterback and Tight End. the question is that we may or may not already have them in house. Gettis and LaFell will improve drastically in their 2nd years. Especially with all the starting the experience they gathered last year. Each put up decent numbers for rookies in a run based offense. Imagine what they could do in a more pass friendly atmosphere?
Last year’s rookies Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike are under contract and will be joining the Panthers at training camp, but the team is expected to add either a veteran signal caller either through free agency or via trade. It’s possible, although not likely, they could add a rookie quarterback through the NFL draft like Auburn’s Cam Newton.
Either way, it’s pretty clear the Panthers haven’t completely hitched their wagon to Clausen as evidenced by the team acknowledging it would have drafted Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft had he come out early.
"Obviously this is a quarterback league and you look at the teams that have made the playoffs and have won the Super Bowl and they have consistent, high-level play at the quarterback position, so we have to get that kind of play at the quarterback position," Hurney said. "We feel like we have some young players that have been there that have ability and I think we have to do whatever we can to create competition and get players in here and help us get some consistent play out of that position."
Rivers' backup Billy Volek is one option, although at 32 he’s admittedly not the long-term answer.
Commentary: BillyVolek anyone? Seems more and more he maybe in Charlotte very soon. He knows the Chargers system and can play with confidence. He has done pretty well when called upon in his spot duty with the Titans and Chargers. Would be a great mentor to Jimmy and Tony. Chudz will definitely lobby for Volek. It just makes sense. This type of offense should help Jimmy Clausen or whoever is Quarterback. They will have plenty of options in the pass game while also giving the defense different looks . We may actually pass on first down! Wow...
There aren’t any big-name free agents available at this point although it’s expected Donovan McNabb and Vince Young will both be released. Carolina could also look for a trade and two hot names are Denver’s Kyle Orton and Philadelphia’s Kevin Kolb, although the latter may be too pricey.
Hurney said it’s too early in the process to know which way the Panthers will turn at quarterback.
"I think it starts with the quarterbacks we have here," Hurney said. "The quarterbacks we have here definitely have the potential to compete for that spot. And then you go outside and you look at all of the areas – the draft, free agency and trades – just like we do at every position. We will look at every avenue."
Commentary: " We will look at every avenue." Could Carolina actually go after someone like Vince Young? I mean, I know he had some issues in Tennessee but he is a winner and relatively young. Definitely has the "confidence" that Hurney spoke of earlier in the article. Sometimes a change of scenery can do a world of difference for a player. At this point Carolina seems to be doing business a little different than usual. We can only sit back and see how this quarterback issue will be addressed. But I will say this, I don't care who the Quarterback is as long as we can get good consistent play out of that position.
Although Clausen remains the great unknown, Hurney isn’t about to give up on him after one unproductive season.
Clausen struggled through his rough rookie campaign, going 1-9 as a starter last season and finishing with the league’s worst quarterback rating. That didn’t instill much hope in Carolina fans, but Hurney said it’s hard to judge him on last season.
"There have been a few guys who’ve come in right away and played well as rookies when everything around them has been good — i.e., Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco," Hurney said. "There are more examples of good quarterbacks in this league that have struggled when young, especially in their rookie seasons.
"There are a lot of things we need to improve, especially on the offensive side of the ball, so you can’t just attribute that all to the quarterback position."
Hurney said he saw "flashes" from Clausen last season.
Flashes like when Clausen completed a fourth-and-4 pass against the New Orleans Saints on Carolina’s final drive, although the comeback bid fell just a little short. Flashes like at Cleveland when Clausen led a final frantic drive to get the Panthers in field goal range, only to have John Kasay miss the game-winning kick.
"I think that you have to say that’s enough to say the jury is still out on him," Hurney said of Clausen.
One thing is for certain, no matter who’s playing quarterback for the Panthers, he’ll be getting some help this offseason.
Commentary: I still think Clausen can be a good Quarterback. He just needs time and mentorship. Neither of which he had last year. But in hindsight that disasterous season maybe what Clausen needed. To see how much work it truly takes to be a successful NFL Quarterback. I think no one expected him to play lights out his rookie year but no one expected him to play as bad as he did. He has shown flashes but not many. But it can't all be put on his shoulders. The whole offense underperformed. I think now that he will, at some point this offseason, have a veteran in his ear giving him advice on how to improve. Clausen has actual Quarterback coach and offensive coordinator that won't "run, run, pass". He should and will do better. How much is to be determined.
Hurney feels good about the team’s offensive line and its running backs, but made it clear the team is looking to add a playmaking tight end and see some improvement at wide receiver.
The Chargers have Gates, a perennial Pro Bowl tight end who averaged 78 catches per season from 2003-09.
The Panthers are looking for someone to give them that same type of production at tight end, and in all likelihood the team will look outside the organization at potential free agents like Zach Miller from Oakland and Owen Daniels from Tennessee for help.
"In different offenses there are different qualities you look for at different positions and I think in the offense we’re going to run a pass receiving tight end would have a big impact," Hurney said.
Commentary: We have Rosario who is a decent pass catcher. Barnidge has shown flashes to stretch the field. Jeff King maybe a casualty based on what the new coaching regime wants. Though King has proven he can be a decent red zone threat. The Panthers may draft a tight end or pluck one from free agency. I guess we will see in April or whenever a new CBA is reached. But what we do know is the idea of "getting it done by committee" with this current group of Tight Ends is gone!
But the big question at that position surrounds the uncertain future of four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith.
We’ll have Hurney’s take on that as well as other impending personnel decisions tomorrow.
Commentary: Especially with the hiring of Fred Graves and Ricky Proehl, the Panthers have created a more Smith-friendly environment. Hurney is stubborn. He will not trade Smith unless Smith makes a huge fuss, which isnt in his nature. From reading other articles and reading how Steve met with coaching the staff, I think the new coaching staff is really trying to sell the idea of how integral Smith will be in this offense. Smith knows he is important to the organization. I just don't see Steve Smith leaving this year with all the accomodations made to not only help the offense but him especially.