Yes, everyone has now read the Schein-enator's article and every Panther fan (myself included) is furious. But by reacting, we're losing the war.
I, like many Panthers fans, am fed up with having the Panthers dumped at the bottom of the NFC South, with little hope of even making a run at the playoffs. As i discussed in a previous article of mine, the Panthers in fact can certainly achieve a winning season, and can certainly silence alot of critics. The talent of Cam and the run game is littered all over the web (only improved by the drafting of Barner), and the underrated secondary WILL surprise alot of neutrals this upcoming year. However, after reading some interesting takes on the situation, I am writing to explain (to the probable anger of many of you), that Schein was right in some areas, and that as fans, we must not use this as an expectation for the Panthers smash mouthing teams like Seattle from the get go, and here's why:
By drafting Lotulelei and Short in the first two rounds, it is clear that on paper the Panthers turned one of their weaknesses into a strength. This, along with the resigning of Dwan Edwards and the drafting of Klein, makes for on paper one of the most dominant and deep front sevens in the NFL. This is where I see the pitfall. I believe strongly that Gettleman had a very good draft (just to put it into perspective, both Carolina and New England got a C grade by nfl.com, and the Patriots every year are graded poorly for not doing what everyone expects and it has served them well.) Would I have done things slightly differently rounds 4- 6? yeah probably, but that's why I'm not in Carolina doing the drafting. However, as i previously mentioned, it is with this good draft that I see the pitfall- Carolina fans will naturally be looking at the defensive line from the very first game, to not only prove Schein wrong, but to prove every draft grader wrong as well. They will be watching and EXPECTING to see Lotulelei and Short, along with Hardy and Johnson, to dominate Seattle's O line and for Wilson to have a horrid day. And this is the problem. What I think is essential is that we not forget that Lotulelei and Short are rookies and have a huge amount to learn. Andrew Luck was the best payer to come out of college in ten years, and yet had many things to learn last season. To put it simply, by retaliating to Schein, you are expecting that which is unlikely, at least early on in the season...
Is Lotulelei talented? Extremely! Everyone agrees we got our man and I think he'll be a dominant force EVENTUALLY. But there are so many things that he and Short will learn the hard way through the season:
1) QBs playing with the snap count- This is a huge difference between college and NFL level. It is the little things like this that can throw a rookie, especially Lotulelei who has a propensity to guess the snap count, off their game. It was very effective for Lotulelei in college, (just watch the forced fumble against USC), but it was also an area that he got caught out on a lot last year. At the next level, he will be the apprentice and the QB's will be the masters.
2) The speed of the game- The NFL is just way faster than college level (bar maybe Oregons ridiculous 12 second per snap offense). Taking plays off just isnt OK in the NFL, even if it is for a split second. Dominant guards and centres like Max Unger that Lotulelei and Short will face, will use any split second lapse to their advantage, to win that game of inches. Only with time and mistakes can rookies learn how to avoid this
3) A limited repertoire of moves- Star is slightly limited as he humbly admits, in his pass rushing moves. His physical size and stature was often enough at College to dominate with his amazing bullrush. But in the NFL, this needs to improve. He will need to improve his swim move, any spin moves and even speed moves splitting the guard and centre. While Short is slightly more developed in his pass rushing moves, he too has many areas to improve if he wants to reach his high ceiling
4) The size and power difference- To be puerile: Star was a man against boys in college, and he will be a man against men in the NFL. The same applies to Short... They were often stronger and quicker and more determined than their counterparts at College level. In the NFL, they will be playing with older, and even bigger and stronger players than themselves (see Mike Iupati SF49ers.)
5) Pre snap reads and not being beaten by zone blocking and more advanced formations- This one is relatively self-explanatory, but swinging guards and different formations and schemes will be met than the ones seen in College. What's more, it will be done faster and more efficiently...
To conclude, the main point I'm making is do not look for Carolina's front seven, and in particular Star and Kawan, to get to Wilson week 1... Do not expect for the Carolina defense to suddenly dominate a very good team like Seattle. Wilson and Lynch may well put up some good numbers against Carolina, and that's not to say Schein is right at all.... Just means that Star and Kawan, like any rookie, will have to adjust to the NFL game before they can start eating offenses.
By letting Schein get to your head, you are putting far too high an expectation on players that may need some time to get the Carolina Panthers to the Superbowl. I believe they are not far away with the pieces they have, but it will take time.
Please feel free to slate my arguments and give any feedback below as to how outraged you are, and as always, thanks for reading