First of all, unlike what James does, this is a one time thing. This is the first and last version of Tuesday afternoon optimist. Second of all, this is based on stats from http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2012/leaders.htm, as well as some of my own personal opinions. It is not based solely on the garbage of last Thursday. I think we have a lot to be optimistic about in Carolina, and I don't just mean the talent available in the next draft. So I wanna address it. Lastly, I want to add to the argument of Ryan vs. Newton.
Let me get this out the way. Over the summer, I argued CAM was clearly better than Ryan. Guys like BW and JKizzle (I think) said Ryan was better. Right now, Ryan is playing lights out. CAM closes his eyes and mumbles in press conferences. I think the argument is over for right now. Maybe we'll re-address in about a month or so.
I do think, however, that there is a lot to be optimistic about. Smitty and LaFell are both playing very well. We haven't had nearly as many comments about dropped passes this year as last year. Bell has played well on the OL. Some of the things that have gone wrong should have been expected. Our rookie returner has fumbled a couple times. That will get fixed. But we knew coming in that he had fumble issues, so we can't be all surprised about that. But I think we'll get a TD or two out of him this season as well. TD and Beason are playing well. We didn't expect Kuechly to be all-pro out the gate, but his skill is undeniable, and he's getting better. It's also true that Frank Alexander is playing well. Our defense is clearly better than last year, but it's hard to tell when the improvement is sorry-as-hell, to a little better than sorry-as-hell. Josh Norman has been impressive. We drafted Kuechly, Alexander, Adams, Norman and Nortman. Five guys making an immediate impact as rookies is impressive. I'm also glad Smitty got in CAM's face. Apparently CAM doesn't fully understand the rules and regulations. I expect that baby-ish attitude and pouting is just about done.
As for the rest of our division, I think we can still get a wildcard. Michael Turner and John Abraham got arrested recently. That won't slow down Matt Ryan, but it might help us be more competitive this Sunday. The Aints are garbage, and I'm loving it. The Bucs, IMO, have been exposed and we will beat them next time around. We simply got outcoached in week 1, but not the next time. I have tempered my expectations of a 13-3 SB winning season. I don't know if Ryan Kalil has adjusted his expectations as well. But a 9-7 or 10-6 wildcard spot is still a possibility. However, if we go 2-14, but both wins come against the Aints, that would provide some comfort.
Speaking of losing records, I am definitely looking at the top college OL, DL and DBs right now. Getting ready for April already.