Welcome to the bye week Panthers fans. This is the Panthers best, perhaps last chance to hit the reset button on this season, not just put fresh lipstick on this pig by standing pat, and hope for the best.
So far this season, the Panthers have been on a crazy rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, with the offense only showing up every other game. The defense started out worse than last years, but has shown some reasons for hope in the last 2 games. In week 4, against the Falcons, the defense exploded for 7 sacks, half of this years total sacks for the first 5 games. In the 5th week, against the Seahawks, the pass rush came back to earth, with their usual 2 sacks, but allowed their fewest rushing yards of the season. What to do?
The Panthers To Do List:
1. Staff Meeting - Geather the whole coaching staff, Hurney, and JR togeather, to review the season so far, and plot the Panthers direction for the rest of this season. With JR first giving his view of how the season has gone so far, and what he expects for the rest of this season. JR then ask the coaching staff what they feel has gone right, and what has gone wrong so far this season, along with how they plan to fix the problem areas. JR then ask the coaching staff what they might need in the way of new players, telling Hurney to do all he can to get them for him, and asking him to explaine any trade offers the Panthers might have received, getting the coaching staff's imput. Then start forward, certain that everyone is on the same page.
2. Coaching Staff Working Session - A brainstorming session, to decide upon any new ideas to help salvage this season (they have probably alread had such a meeting, before step 1). Here are some suggestions, ditch the read option ((it's slowing everything down in the bacfield on running plays, and ruining the timing of blockers and RB's), fewer called running plays for Cam, rotate the backup WR's in more often (keeping Smitty and LaFell fresh, while developing young talent), fix the O-Line (they need a bigger more powerful run blocker at RG than Hangartner, so move Bell to RG, and start Bruce Campbell at RT, if it doesn't work, then swithch them back after a couple of games), decide if Kuechly stays at MLB, and if Martin should start at FS. Then get to work, and make it happen.
3. Checkout Trade Options - Are any teams interested in trading for FS Sherrod Martin (he's a FA at the end of this season), OT/OG Garry Williams (benched at OG in the 1st half of the last game), RG/C Geoff Hangartner (30 years old, and his salary jumps from $825,000 to $1.525 million next year), LT Jordan Gross (either he's slipped, or covering for rookie LG Silatolu is causing him problems, he has 3 more years under contract, with his salary increasing $2 million, to around $8.5 million for the next 2 years), QB Jimmy Clausen, WR Joe Adams (they aren't using him) or AE to create roster room for WR David Gettis, maybe even OLB James Anderson (he's 29, and his salary goes up each of the next 2 years), D-Will, and J-Stew as well. I'm not saying absolutely trade these players, just see what you could get for them (except for Gross probably only a very late round pick), and see if you get a good offer (Bears need a LT, Chiefs need a C, Cowboys need C and OG, Cardinals need everything on their O-Line, etc.). Here are some possible trade targets, Texans #76 pick OG Brandon Brooks (6-5, 346, 4.98-40, 36 bench reps) who's been on their inactive list all season, Jaguars 2nd year backup S Chris Prosinski (6-0 1/8, 201, 4.39-40, 39 1/2 inch vertical, 11-2 broad jump), Bears #79 pick S/CB Brandon Hardin (6-2 5/8, 219, 4.38-40, 6.60-3 cone drill, and a 4.03-20 yard shuttle) who's on IR (neck injury, but he's OK now), Miami #78 pick TE Michael Egnew (6-5 1/8, 252, 4.62-40) who's been inactive because they saw he can't learn the playbook, and Cowboys #186 pick TE James Hanna (6-3 3/4, 252, 4.49-40) who can probably also play FB (a much more gifted Brockel).
4. Possible Free Agent or Practice Squad Signing Targets - Checking the FA list at Roto-World shows no real talent, except for the old aged and over priced, or a couple of QB's (Josh Johnson, Dennis Dixon, etc.). That only leaves players on other teams Practice Squads, and they can only be signed to 53 man rosters, not other Practice Squads, so here are a few I like.
OLB Sammy Brown (6-1 7/8, 242, 4.63-40), who's on the Rams Practice squad. He had 21 sacks, 50 TFL's, and 173 tackles, in his 2 years at Houston, with 13.5 sacks, 30 TFL's, and 93 tackles as a senior in 2011. Panthers OLB James Anderson is 29 years old with his salary increasing each of the next years, and OLB's like Brown, who can both pass cover and pass rush are like gold. Here's what Russ Lande (NationalFootballPost.com Scouting Department)thinks of Brown:
"Brown is definitely capable of starting in the NFL and that is why he is an excellent developmental prospect. Excelling in pass coverage has become paramount for a linebacker to shine in the NFL and this is where Brown is the strongest. Smooth and fluid in his pass drops, he can flip his hips to change directions easily and can cover backs and tight ends in man coverage without issue. Remarkably, for a player who racked up 13.5 sacks as a senior, Brown lacks explosiveness off the ball and a variety of pass rush moves. Naturally strong, Brown can anchor, shed and make plays when he competes hard and fights to make plays." - Russ Lande
OT/OG Nick Mondek (6-5 3/4, 304, 33 3/8 inch arms, 4.84-40, 1.59-10, 30 bench reps), who's currently on the Raiders Practice Squad, after being the #195 pick of the Texans this year. He played LT at Purdue, is exsreamly fast, and might even be a better pulling OG in the NFL than a OT. He would be a good replacement for either Hangartner, or Garry Williams, and probably save a draft pick next year.
S/CB Nieko Thorpe (6-1 1/4, 198, 4.39-40, 38 inch vertical, 11-5 broad jump, and a 4.01-20 yard shuttle) was a UDFA from Auburn, who was on the Chiefs Practice Squad (where he may return) until this past week when he was brought up to the 53 man roster, but cut today. He's on a rookie minimum contract, so claim him off waivers, and sent S D. J. Campbell to the Practice Squad (he's inactive on game days anyway).
The Practice Squads have other interesting players, but they aren't yet ready for a 53 man roster. Here are a few who might be good additions to the Practice Squad if they were to be cut by their present teams, Raiders PS CB Chimdi Chekwa (5-11 3/4, 191, 4.33-40, 1.47-10), Raiders 3rd year PS S/CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (6-0 1/4, 207, 4.30-40), Bills S Mana Silva (6-0 3/4, 206, 4.41-40, 40 inch vertical), and Cardinals PS OT Steven Baker (6-7 7/8, 312, 4.87-40) from East Carolina.
5. Work the players tails off until the next game