So I've been looking at all things football, and I have a few random thoughts on this season that I'd like to discuss. Random is the operative word here, but it's all Panthers related. I want to spend a moment to talk about Cam's "regression and sophomore slump", NFL awards, how we judge our coaches, Smitty's apparent decline.
The first thing i want to talk about is Cam's sophomore slump. I used to work with a guy who was a Bengals' fan, and we say that Dalton was better than Cam. This season, Dalton became only the third player ever to throw 20 or more TDs in each of his first two seasons. The other two guys are Dan Marino and Peyton Manning. Dalton's pretty good. But I think Cam can throw 9 more TDs in the next 5 games. Cam has been playing better lately, and I think it's due to coaching. Rivera made a comment not too long ago that they took some things off of Cam's plate, and are going about things differently. But in the last 6 quarters, he has played lights out football, including going 11 of 12 in the second half of the Bucs game, and then last week's 4 TD outing. Including rushing TDs, Cam has been good for 52 TDs in 27 career games. I think Cam will continue to play well the rest of the season. He seems to have regressed, and there are aspects of his game that are noticeably worse than last year, but he can still finish with a higher QB rating than last season. he was at 85 last year, and is at 82 right now. Last year, he went to the pro bowl, and Matt Stafford didn't. Many people thought Stafford got robbed. This year, Stafford is again on pace to throw for almost 5,000 yards, but he only has 14 passing TDs to Cam's 11, both have 10 interceptions, and Stafford's QB rating is 83, only a point above Cam. But since he's not in his sophomore season, he's not having a sophomore slump. Indeed, it took him a few seasons to get to the point where he could start every game without getting hurt. But by the end of the year, Cam's QB rating could be higher than last year's, and I think he'll have fewer interceptions than last year as well. I doubt he throws 7 in the next five games. Cam is turning the corner in my opinion, and will lead us to another 2 or 3 wins, even if that upsets some of you who wanted a top 5 pick.
My point on NFL awards is simple... how do you judge them? I've heard a lot of talk about Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson as comeback player of the year guys. Last year, Matt Stafford won it, but I thought D'Qwell Jackson should have won it after missing two full seasons. Now Thomas Davis is getting it done after missing three seasons due to tearing his ACL in the same knee three years in a row. No one has ever come back from that before. But he didn't come back to play a limited role. He's a playmaker and he's getting it done. He's a huge part of why our defense is much improved. So how do you decide who gets the award, do you base it on how good their season is, or on how difficult their situation was to come back from? I think TD should be comeback player of the year. Speaking of awards, I never hear anyone mention Kuechly as a DROY candidate, but who's playing better? We do a lot of team tackling in Carolina, so he's listed as 22nd in the league in solo tackles, but 4th overall in total tackles... and he's a rookie, so who could be more deservant for DROY than him? I'm not seeing it. He should get this award if you ask me, especially considering how our D has played after losing Beason and Gamble.
Another random topic is how we judge our coaches. I am not saying to keep them for another year, but if you look at how we've played, many losses are due to a lack of talent and execution. For example, when we called the prevent against the Bears, McD didn't tell the DBs they weren't allowed to step in front of a pass and take it to the house. Even in the prevent, guys like Revis would still have their man locked down. As for the playcalling, well, Cam's throw in Seattle on 4th and goal lost the game. He threw a bounce pass to Hartsock. His fumble on 3rd down against Atlanta cost us the game. Suppose we beat Atl and Sea, and are sitting at 5-6, would you still be saying Rivera should go? I ask because we have to look deeper than the record, but in Carolina, when you dig deeper, you see more evidence of why Rivera should be gone. Let's go back to that Seattle game, and the Cowboys game, and some other losses. With our roster, we should be scoring 31 points a game, not 18 - 20. We have fewer penalties than last year, and we are even on turnover margin. But somehow our running game sucks. Look at last week's game. Including throws, sacks and runs, Cam had his number called twice as much as D-Will and Stew combined. Against a better team, that game plan would not have worked, but the Eagles kept giving us the ball. So even in a win, I think Rivera demonstrated why he has to go.
What's up with Smitty? It seems that he gets a big play now and then, but he's not the same. I think it has a lot to do with the play calling, and Cam being inaccurate, but does Smitty look like he's fallen off to you guys, or is it just me?
Well that's all I got. I hope we win out, fire Rivera anyway, and then draft OL with our first three picks in April. One of them would have to work out.