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The Nightmare cometh.... one way or another.

   There was something Cam Newton said a few months back that sort of hit me again today as I thought of  what the Carolina Panther offence would look like under the tender mercies of one Robert A Chudzinski.  I recalled it was not long after the draft, and we Panther Fans were trying to figure out what we had on our hands, when Newton said he wanted to become a defensive coordinator’s nightmare.

A quick look on espn.com  and I found were I had read it…
http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/21067/cam-newton-wants-to-be-nightmare

…which in turn reminded me of listening to the entire interview that Cam did thanks to Pat Y’s link
http://sportsradiointerviews.com/2011/05/06/cam-newton-2011-nfl-draft-grades-results/

I thought the interview was awesome, and had fun listening to all 26 minutes of it. It left me then believing that Cam Newton had some fire in him, and that he was going to fix a whole lot of collard greens…. With bacon…ummm bacon.

  Time to pull a Van Helan and “Jump!”

One of the first articles that I read on Cat Scratch  was James Dator’s  http://www.catscratchreader.com/2011/6/1/2200621/getting-to-brass-tacks-what-will-be-the-differences-in-chudzinskis

  The recent talk of getting a veteran backup that was familiar with Chud’s schemes in order to help possibly protect and mentor  Newton,  made me stop and consider the Qbs that Chud has had under him as a coordinator alone  (Ken Dorsey, Derrick Crudup, and Broke Berlin in College, Derrick Anderson, Brady Quinn, and Charlie Frye for the Browns). Spent sometime to make sure but “fleet of foot” does not apply to anyone of them, “Born Pocket Passers” to be polite. Nonetheless Dorsey and Anderson had notable success, the former by being on a the stacked Miami championship teams, and latter by using all the tools possible Cleveland.  
 
*** Note  in 2004 Chudzinksi was promoted to interim OC from TE,s coach after the November 30th resignation  Head Coach Butch Davis and the promotion of OC Terry Robiskie to interim Head coach for the last 6 games (1-5).  Jerry Garcia and Luke MCcown  could be considered mobile qbs for the 4-12 team but given that it was not Chud’s system but Robiskies I will not consider them. 

The Chudzinski-Newton collaboration will soon arrive. Chudzinski as the Maestro must bee considered first.   
 
  His coordination of the surprising  07 Cleveland team is what gives Panthers fans hope the most hope.   So I want to see 2007 The first Pro Symphony of Chud, and understand what happen in 2008 The Year Cinderella got her pumpkin repoed. .

Of the 305 completions on 545 total attempts , 298 were thrown by Derrick Anderson, whom was reasonable for all 29 passing TDs  and 19 of 20 INTs.

Here are the receiving States from ESPN.com for the 2007 Browns.   WRs- Edwards, Jurevicius, Wright, Carter, Cribbs.   TEs- Winslow, Heiden, Dinkins.  Rbs/FBs  Lewis, Vickers, Harrison.

NAME                     REC   TAR  YDS    AVG   TD   LONG   20+  YDS/G   FUM FUML YAC 1DN
Braylon Edwards    80    154  1289   16.1   16     78         21      80.6        3          2   322    57
Kellen Winslow      82    149   1106   13.5    5       49         17     69.1        2          1   356    56
Joe Jurevicius        50       81     614   12.3    3       50           7      38.4        0          0   222    34
Jamal Lewis          30       39     248      8.3    2       34           2       16.5        0          0   239      9
Jason Wright          24      37      233     9.7     0      23           2       14.6         0         0   196      14
Tim Carter                 8     22       117   14.6    1       22           2         7.3         0          0    19        7
Steve Heiden          12     21       104     8.7    0       27           1        6.5          0         0      34       4
Lawrence Vickers  13    24           91    7.0    2       25            1        5.7         0          0       71     7
Josh Cribbs            3        5            37  12.3   0       18             0       2.3         1           0       30    3
Jerome Harrison   2        2            19     9.5   0      15              0      2.4           0         0        28    1
Darnell Dinkins      1        1              8     8.0   0        8              0      0.5           0         0           3    0
Totals                  305   545       3866    12.7 29     78             53     241.6      6         3    1520 192


A modified rushing chart also espn.
NAME                    ATT    YDS   AVG   LONG    20+ TD YDS/G  FUM         FUML   1stDNs
 Jamal Lewis      298  1304     4.4         66         9    9     86.9        4      2          58
 Jason Wright     60      277      4.6         18         0    1     17.3        1      1          19
Jerome Harrison 23      142     6.2        17         0    0     17.8        0      0           8
Derek Anderson 32        70      2.2        11        0    3       4.4        1      1          12
Josh Cribbs          9         61     6.8        18        0    0       3.8        0      0           3
Lawrence Vickers 15      43     2.9          7         0    0       2.7        0      0         10
Charlie Frye          1          1      1.0          1         0    0      1.0        0       0           0
Dave Zastudil        2        -3    -1.5          0         0    0     -0.3        1       0            0
Totals                440  1895       4.3        66         9  13  118.4        7       4        110


All in all a pretty good offensive year that saw the Browns go from 31st  in total yards (4233) in 2006 to 8th in 2007 (5621).  Interestingly their 2007 total yards would have been  8th best in 2006 and 2008 while 13th best in 2009 2 yards shy of 12.  

  07 is the only real season I think we can accurately judge Chud’s offensive motif.  Over all was a fairly good offensive year  for ateam that went from 4-12 to 10-6 in a year and a being just an ants fart from the playoffs.  Their points per game grew from 14.9 (30th) in 2006 to 25.1 (8th) in 2007.  Most importantly for this year Cleveland had no major injuries to crucial skill players while receiving a few lucky calls at the end of a game or two  Yes they were helped by a soft schedule but beating out the Ravens twice by posting 30+ points both times is impressive to me….

 Sadly for Cleveland 2008  found them back at 31st in total yards with  3985yards (2380 passing 1605 rushing) and  29th in points per game at 14.5.

What Happened to Chuds magic touch… well to be honest the Fairy Godmother came back to collect on 2007 success.   They lose Joe Jureivisous before the season started leaving them without a legitimate number 2 to help stave off the  pressure that would other come to their number 1 Bralyon Edwards.  Comparatively speaking the year before Joe caught 61.7 % of the passes thrown to him in 07, while Edwards caught 51.9%  and Winslow 55%. The 08 season would see Edwards at 39.5 % , 55 of 139. Winslow would only play 10 drama filled games falling to 53% reception rate,  43 of 81, both players combined for 6 tds with 5 other players receiving a single td reception each.   

  I believe the field became increasingly smaller without Joe “Viscous.”  Winslow’s drama, suspensions, and injured knee hampered him and sapped the team, while  Bralyon “butters” Edwards received the Steve Smith triple team treatment. 
  Taking a step back  a tougher schedule lead to bad start, and the pressure to start Brady “The Promised One” Quinn lead to Anderson getting bench in week 10 with the team 3-5 for the season and 3-2 in the last five games leading up to week 10.
   A couple good games passed for Quinn before he went on IR after week 12.  Followed by Anderson going on IR in week 13, QB- Dorsey was hapless and was unable to relive the success he had at Maimi under Chudzinski and ended up at some point on IR, but did have Clausen like games of 150, 156, 64 before it occurred. Bruce Gradkoiski (signed after Anderson went on IR.) was the next lamb to the slaughter but made it through week 17 with 18 passing yards that lead the team making his total for the year combined (with the previous game I assume) 26 yards, 7-21, with 3 INT’s.

2007 and 2008 are perfect examples of how seasons can go.  One year  was a dream season for Chud in which the fates smiled kindly upon him.  No one got hurt and a few young players got hot, and some veterans stepped up. This is of course is what we all hope for.  However we have been on a bad side of luck just as Chud was in 08. Last year was the perfect crap storm resulting in a 2-14 record. The 07 Browns and 2010 Panthers seasons were something scary to behold, like Freedy Crooger or a life time sentence of watching “The Hotty and the Notty” scary.


We seen what Chud can do so what about Cam Newton’s side to collaboration?

 Newton’s desire to cause sleepless nights for defensive coordinators is not to far fetched.  The Auburn Tigers had went 5-7 and 8-5 the years prior to 14-0 and National Champions in The Year of the Newt.  2010 was supposed to be, as I understand it, nothing to scary for teams facing the Tigers.  I am no fan of college football to be honest, (only because of the BCS system) but I remembered hearing often of  what a surprise Auburn was becomeing as the weeks passed.   Looking back on espn.com again they ended 09 not even ranked in the polls, while beginning 2010 considered to be ranked 22nd.  I only mention this because with any other quarterback I doubt the Tigers would have sniffed a championship this year, and for most Newton was not on the radar.

Here is Flowing Willow‘s apt description of Cam Newton…

Cam is different from many other QB's in another way. He doesn't really have an analog for what he will become as a pro. He is a unique prospect, with the potential to change what we look for in QB prospects. He's an interesting amalgation of Josh Freeman, Ben Roethlisberger, Daunte Culpepper, and Vince Young. He's got a rocket arm, immense size, excellent mobility, and an innate ability to make plays and win games. He also has inconsistent accuracy stemming from raw pocket passer mechanics and has a long ways to go as far as reading NFL defenses…..


I enjoyed Flowing Willow’s entire post on what he expects from Cam and his break down of why.     http://www.catscratchreader.com/2011/7/1/2251571/what-should-we-expect-from-cam-newton


I found it interesting looking on espn.com and seeing that Cam Newton had 48 less passing attempts at 280 compared to Chris Todd’s 328 the year before, but only 13 less completions at 185 to 198.  That is 66% passing to 60%, and better yet Newton had 242 more yards, 8 more touchdowns, and only 1 more interception than Todd.  His qb rating at 182 was 36.3% better then Todds but more importantly it shows the impact Cam brought.  Todd statically at qb was no slouch passing wise in 09 but Cam‘s season made him seem so. The biggest difference was the 1473 rushing yards and 20 rush tds of Newton’s compared to -116 yards (A few kneel downs perhaps?) and 0 tds of Todd”s.

I wish I could see the Newton effect at Blinn College, outside of leading them to a National Championship as well but I could not find the stats.

Cam Newton has over come many obstacles in his career thus far, granted some have been of his own making, but he has risen above them all.  It was reported on espn.com that Chris Weinke belives that Newton knows about 90% of the  Carolina Playbook.  It seems that Newton has been working hard down in at IMG Madden Football Academy in order to overcome the obstacle that is the lockout.  It appears that when faced with adversity Newton steps up and tries harde rather then looking for the easy route.  I will say that those who have challenged his intellect and learning capabilitie may have shown themselves to be lacking restraint.  I personal do not see how one can judge another’s intelligence from afar. 

Considering that Cam has shown he has the dedication and the brains now we must see if he can bring the “It” factor he had in college to the NFL.  The past has proven that he finds ways to win, to overcome and come out on top in the college game.  Yet for all the Talent and intellect a player may have shown on Saturday there is a whole new level to putting it all together on Sunday, when it is 3rd and very long and the teams needs you to make the right decision, and the big bucks are own the line..  We can only hope and see. 

When I think of merging Chudzinski’s offensive mindset of opening all portions of the field to attack on any given play with Newton’s incredible potential and determination to improve himself  I believe the Nightmares has started already for Defensive coordinators in the NFL, only this nightmare is worse then someone with Coulrophobia (Fear of clowns) forced to watch Steven Kings "It" for six days before going to the circus. 
  

   The Panthers are in a very similar position as 2007 Cleveland Brown were when Chud arrived. . The previous year for both teams saw little hope of success as the teams could not put points on the board  to help a middle of the pack defense. However unlike the Browns who lacked talent at the skilled positions the year prior to Chud's arrival , we do not.  Our hapless season was the result of injuries to the o-line, key injures on defensive, a weak d-line. Not forgetting the lack of a ready to start qb combineing with a offensive philosophy so predictable over the years that you could set your time by the next punt serveing to create a dish called futility.
    What we do have a is power running game that has been feared in the past, an o line that can buy the quarterback time or open up a lane for Smash and Dash to slip through, as well as a veteran wr that has shown in the past Hall of Fame potential.  We also have a deep core of running backs that can catch the ball, signed a TE known for his receiving threat as well as few other TE’s that though forgotten in the past era have, for the most part, shown promise when given the chance.  We also have in Gettis and Lafell two receivers that gave us some hope last year when there was little to be seen.  Lastly we have Edwards and Pilares that with a creative mind and ample opportunity may surprise us all.  Also crucial is the fact  now we have a defense that will, if all goes well, have key members healthy for the first time in years, as we have drafted high to help the middle of the d-line. , 
 

   I belive  all we needed last year  to succeed on offence is what we have received in the form of one Robert A. Chudzinksi and Cam “The Nightmare” Newton this year.  Perhaps Newton is not necessarily the “ready to start qb, or perhaps, if our dream is proves sweet enough, he has prepared himself hard enough that come time to put the pads on he will be as prepared as he possible could be considering the situation.  He has the foot speed and athletic abilities to buy time in an offensive scheme that has in the past proved to overcome some very talented defenses with muchless able body quarterbacks.  
  It is a strange felling to be a Panther's fan and know that if our quarterback gets in trouble he can get himself out of a lot of it.  Defenses will not be able to blitz Newton like they would a normal rookie.  They're going to have to be honest to a degree in how they attack him, because he has the ability to hurt them more than a normal rookie QB would. You blitz him, you going ot have to catch him and hope he does not find the TE or the running back you neglected.
  I see the Panthers having and aggressive offence that will by its nature put up around 10-15 more points than the year before. That would be around 22.-27 points for each game.   There can be no more 8 in the box to stump our running backs with Chud at the helm, therefore our running game will open up almost as much as passing game.   Smith (if he stays) will not look back to discover a sacked qb unable to get free from pressure but one that is scrambling making precious time.  Smith is one the best at getting open in those cases and making big plays after words.  Most defensives can only cover him for so long in the first place, and with the time Newton will buy I think Smitty would be in for a pleasant surprise .
  We can not forget Jeremy Shockey, Gettis, Lafell, Edwards, Pilares, Goodson, Sutton, Williams,  and Stewert all of whom will see the ball passed their way a number of times this year in situations that unlike last year will not be as predictable. Defensive coordinators can no longer  assume it is clearly a running or passing down anymore with us.  They will have to have a QB spy to stay and sit on Newton so that he does not break off on a 10-15-or 20 yead run for a first down.  This means one less player to drop in quickly to help cover a route,  or to rush forward a fill hole.  It means more openings, more first downs, more opportunities… It means sleepless nights and nightmares, lots of nightmares, for those faceing us...

Oh yes I believe that our defensive capabilities will only get better this year.  First they will spend less time on the field.  With Thomas Davis back, and a young and strong hole filling pair DT’s shoring the line up we will see I hope a return to 09, that saw us 9th in points allowed at 19.3, fourth in passing Defense at 191 ypg, and 11th in rushing at 124ypg.  I dare say that our run defense could improve better than that.  I would not be surprise to see an 6-9 point drop in points of allowed from 2010's seventh worst 25.5 ypg. We will be much more aggressive on D and that is a fun prospect in and of itself.

Last year oppossing DC’s and OC’s could afford to be aggressive with us, we only scored 12 points so offensively taking a risk down the field and failing meant less, and defenses could afforded to blitz harder, to jump the routes sooner, we did allow double what we scored after all, but no more.  It is not unreasonable to think that we could go 3-3 in our division.  For one thing we are now the new kids on the block, and are full of unknown seen new factors.  Where as we have players and some coached that have seen ATL, NO, and TBs offences and defenses for the last few years.  Also as in all years injuries happen unfortunately, and that can change the outlook for any team. We must not forget that being as it is the NFC South, were records seldom mean anything at home versuses a rivail, players step up for the home turf..
  Our first four games are out of division and the combined record for our oppoinents is 34-31--GB and CHI being 21-11 of that.  Going 2-2 is not out of question nor is pulling an upset on one of the teams if they over look us.    Of the last 6 out of division games, 5 of which are in a long stretch together mid season, our opponents are a combined  40-60 with the Colts being the only winning team at 10-6 the others (no joke) all went 6-10.  That means  that outside our division our opponents are 74-91 and 43-74 without Chi, Green, and Indy.  If we lose to the winning teams and win against the losing teams that would brings us to a 7-3, add going 3-3 in division that makes for a very possible 10-6.  11-5 is the absolute ceiling I thing and I would drop a golden duce if it happened..

Time for the other side of the nightmare… no I am not going to continue on my 10 hour rant, Cam may be the Nightmare to our own OC and DC.  He could panic and have a 3 or 4 ints game. He may be overcome by the pressure of it all…. Or worst yet get injured trying to do to much in his eagerness.  We could end up going 5-11 easily, injuries happens, rookies panic, forget, and misjudge.  Perhaps Newton can not get out of all the trouble being a rookie with a target on his back brings. Or could Chud prove to us that the 08 Browns are easy repeatable.

Either way The Nightmare is coming… and no matter how it turns out it is going to be an exciting season to be a Carolina Panther fan. P.S. If you made it this far you get some collard greens.

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