The Panthers signed another Wide Receiver, Nelson Rosario from UCLA. Well, technically we're calling him a Tight End, but he played wide out in college. Rosario's a tall guy with long arms and big hands, very mediocre speed, and highly questionable work ethic. Prior to this signing, we had 14 WRs on the roster and 7 TEs. With every roster change, there's a big rush to see what the new guy can bring to the Panthers' offense.
Well, to me something smells funny about loading up on Free Agent WRs/TEs (most undrafted). Are the Panthers really bringing in players in anticipation they can make the final roster, or even the Practice Squad? If so, it would represent a cluster bomb approach to upgrading two positions. I don't think that is what's happening though. As I said, it just smells funny (kind of like napalm in the morning).
When something doesn't smell right to me, I don't swallow it. I'm genetically disposed to look at all angles; and in doing so, I've come up with a theory that works for me. Read my outrageous look from "Outside the Box" ... after the jump.In 2011, the Panther offense came alive. Cam surprised the football world with his pro-readiness, and I know that's a huge understatement. Smitty rose from the ashes like the Phoenix he is, Double-Trouble did what they do best, two new TEs added to the assault (Shockey and Olsen). The biggest addition, though, was (IMO) Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski. Even with the pre-season loss of promising WR David Gettis, the continued "injury" issues with road-grading RT Jeff Otah, plus numerous other O-Line injuries, the Offense started out Hot and never cooled down. From the historically atrocious 2010 offense, a top-5 offense somehow emerged; without the benefit of OTAs, a 3-week training camp, a rookie QB, and a new OC. Ah, but that's just re-hashing of the 2011 good side.
The Panthers historically vaunted Defense, for a myriad of reasons, stunk to high heaven in 2011. Injuries among the front-7 were crippling; plus, again there was a new system to install in precious little time. Special Teams, with the exception of the rare non-touchback kick returns, were the absolute worst in the league.
So, as we all know, the Panthers improved from 2010's abhorrent 2-14 season to 6-10 in 2011. We couldn't stop the top offenses, but we were not an easy win for anybody; because, the offense was scoring points.
I said all that to get to this... why do we have 14 WRs and 7 TEs on the roster? I firmly believe that Chud knows at least 5 of the WRs that will make the 53 (Smitty, Lafell, Gettis, Pilares, and rookie Joe Adams). Maybe one of the new guys will unseat incumbents Edwards, Darvin Adams, and Seyi Tutu. I would say Manno and Green have a shot at the 53, and a better shot at the Practice Squad.
In addition, I believe Chud knows that none of these FAs are going to seriously challenge Olsen, or even Barnidge, at TE. Hartsock and Brockel remain as in-line blocking TEs/HBs, and Shockey's still out there sipping Margaritas hoping for a call.
Okay, here it is; I'm bringing it. My "Outside the Box" theory is that the majority of the off-season WR/TE signings have been orchestrated to improve the Defense.
The Panthers face many of the best QBs, WRs, and TEs in the league in 2012. And our secondary in 2011 (minus Gamble) stunk worse than a CSR Dead Horse thread. We brought in some help at Safety ... Nakamura and Reggie Smith; and we drafted CB Josh Norman from Coastal Carolina. Brandon Hogan should be healthy and has a lot of potential. But, do the Panthers know who the best fits are at CB and Safety versus the competition we'll be facing? The best way to find out, and the basis of my theory, is bring in Receivers with multiple skill sets to face off against our DBs throughout Training Camp.
Let's look at the WRs/TEs currently on the camp roster that haven't been mentioned yet:
WRs: Wes Kemp (6'3, 233), Brenton Berson (6'3, 210), Rico Wallace (6'3, 208), Hubert Anyiam (6'0, 200). I'm going to add Armond Smith (5'9, 194). He's an RB picked up from CLE that has blazing (track star) speed, but he is really bad as an RB.
Add these guys to the one's previously mentioned, and you get different sizes, speeds, and route running to emulate (not "match") just about anyone we're likely to face. By utilizing them against the DBs in camp, I believe Rivera/McDermott will realize which of the CBs, Safeties (and LBs as well), will offer the best match-ups and necessary versatility going forward.
Actually, I think it's a brilliant strategy, if true. We might get lucky and find that hidden "gem," but that would be gravy. Just let it marinate a while.