Panther Paw Prints - Week Ending 2/15/2013

We haven't done many links-type Paw Prints post in a while but I plan to start doing more often in the offseason. In no particular order here's some links we have not featured in a separate post this week.

Clarifying the expected role of newly inked DT Colin Cole:

NFC South evening update - NFC South Blog - ESPN
CAROLINA PANTHERS Bryan Strickland writes that the recent signing of Colin Cole doesn’t mean the Panthers will ignore defensive tackle in the draft. Cole hasn’t played in the NFL since 2010. If he gives the Panthers anything at all, it’s a bonus. Defensive tackle still remains one of this team’s biggest needs and the Panthers better address it in the draft.

I'll be surprised if he makes it through training camp honestly so I wouldn't hitch any expectations to him.

LB Thomas Davis has now blazed a trail for others to follow:

Panthers' Thomas Davis inspires Giants' Terrell Thomas in comeback from third ACL surgery | NJ.com

"I told him, ‘Don’t give up on your dream, believe in yourself and continue to fight,’ " Davis recalled in a phone interview this week. " ‘I’m living proof, and I’m going to do whatever I can each and every week to show you that it is possible. If you continue to work hard and believe in what you can do, then you’ll be in the same position that I was in.’ "

Good luck Terrell!. I think it would be harder as a CB to recover but we shall see. There was a time I would have loved to see Thomas in electric blue.

On to the draft, I have not been shy about my growing love for Izzy Ansah after he dominated the Senior Bowl. In the same game we saw how raw Margus Hunt though given those measurables he is still at least a 2nd round pick. Here's a pass rusher who should be there in the 4th the Panthers should consider, 6'4" 280 lbs Datone Jones out of UCLA:

Margus Hunt, Ezekiel Ansah emerge in search for next J.J. Watt - NFL.com

Jones, who is listed at 6-4, 280 pounds, played multiple positions throughout his career as a Bruin, settling in nicely last season in Jim Mora's aggressive scheme. He seamlessly floated between defensive end and defensive tackle, taking advantage of favorable matchups along the line. Additionally, Jones' ability to create pressure from the interior allowed the Bruins' explosive outside rusher (Anthony Barr) to feast on isolated matchups. Looking at Jones' game, it's apparent that his combination of first-step quickness and power is what gives opponents problems at the line. Jones is simply too quick for lumbering interior blockers to handle without assistance from the center. He complements this quickness with explosive strength, allowing him to win with power or finesse on the inside.

Sounds like another Greg Hardy does he not? You have to love the flexibility to move inside and out along the line.

News Flash: The Panthers are a 2nd half of the season kind of team!

Here's the proof even though I know you didn't need it, starting with the link from where I got the chart:

Panthers Stats - Imgur

Imgur is used to share photos with social networks and online communities, and has the funniest pictures from all over the Internet.

Chart below:

Wins_chart_medium

Now if you could just improve that front half right? Piggy backing right behind that we have a table listing each franchises longest streak of back to back winning seasons. (Table not provided for obvious reasons)

Glory Days - Longest streak of consecutive winning seasons for each NFL team : nfl
Four teams have current streaks, with the Patriots being the longest current streak. On the other end of the scale, the oldest streak in the list is the Lions, whose glory days were in the earliest days of the NFL. And the Carolina Panthers have yet to have back-to-back winning seasons in their 18 year history.

The.Only.Franchise.Without.Back.to.Back.Winning.Seasons. Moving on...

The Panthers obviously have the best set of LBs in the NFC South:

2012 PFF All-NFC South Team | ProFootballFocus.com
Linebackers: Lavonte David (TB), Luke Kuechly (CAR) and Thomas Davis (CAR) Two rookies and a man that you didn’t expect to last the season, let alone manage 798 snaps. David emerged in Year 1 as one of the most active linebackers around the line of scrimmage, as evidenced by his 70 defensive stops. Even the impressive Kuechly couldn’t keep up, posting a ‘mere’ 67. For those thinking Davis is a sentimental selection, don’t. He performed exceptionally well to finish the year 11th in our 4-3 outside linebacker rankings.

This reminds me that my SBN Mock draft picks for the Panthers last year had pretty good rookie seasons. Would you be unhappy if we had instead picked DT Fletcher Cox in the 1st and LB Lavonte David in the 2nd round? Sounds like a good use of a fanpoll!

As for that 2nd round pick, he made the PFF All Rookie team too, by default:

2012 PFF All-Rookie Team | ProFootballFocus.com
Guards: Amini Silatolu, CAR (LG) (-16.7) and Kevin Zeitler, CIN (RG) (+13.0) The right guard position was easily filled by Zeitler, who ranked as our 12th-best guard on his way to surrendering only 15 pressures all season. Finding a left guard was a much more arduous process, and Silatolu makes the team by default over Jeff Allen (KC) and Mike Brewster (JAX). Silatolu ranked 77th of the 81 qualifying guards, but ranking a couple of notches above Allen and Brewster gets him the spot on the team.

Amini played much better towards the end of the year so I think he's going to develop into a quality starter sooner rather than later.

Here's one we let get away:

2013 Team Needs: Carolina Panthers | ProFootballFocus.com
In an ideal situation, Carolina would bring back Geoff Schwartz, whom the team drafted in 2008 but let go in free agency prior to this season. The former Panther played just 182 snaps in a reserve role for the Vikings, but graded well, particularly for his efforts in run blocking. As the team saw in 2010 when he graded at +19.2, he’s capable of being one of the better offensive linemen in the league, with the ability to line up at either guard or tackle.

I'm still not sure why unless it was strictly money, which when I remember our cap situation makes a lot of sense.

speaking of the cap situation, queue the Mike Gettleman post, who seems to be giving Marty Hurney some props:

Carolina Panthers offseason guide: GM Dave Gettleman must deal with tough salary-cap spot | CharlotteObserver.com
"Getting in the unrestricted free agent market with big-ticket guys is very dicey. Again, I don’t mean to sound like a jerk, but we had success in New York with the right guys, with the research we did going through the evaluation process," Gettleman said in January. "We didn’t miss on any big-ticket guys, but it’s dangerous and the ideal thing is exactly what Marty said. You draft, you grow, you use all the avenues to add players to your team. "You watch the waiver wire, you inquire about trade possibilities, you take guys off the street and snag guys off someone else’s practice squad."

It doesn't sound like GMan is afraid to stick his hand in someone else's cookie jar! Seriously, I'm glad to hear him say or at least sound like he's not opposed to going after the big ticket FA's that are 'the right guys' after thorough research. I think we are going to like this new GM we have.

Paw Prints Out!

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