NFC South Champions
Posted 18 January 2009 - 08:55 PM
Obviously winning your division alone is not sufficient for any team's aspirations, unless you were a team that had less than 4 wins the prior season.
That being said, no one who is a true Panthers fan is happy about how the season ended. If anything, losing at home during the playoffs to a 10 point underdog cuts worse than loss other than our Superbowl loss in the last minute. The only consolation is though, after watching Arizona today, they were planning the best football in the NFC when in mattered, and have a good shot to win the Superbowl.
But the fact remains, the season was not a total diaster. Looking back in a couple of years will prove this. This season was a marked improvement over the last couple of years, and only our 3rd division title in team history. There was a spark about this team and a reason to be excited. Our offense reached new levels this year and looks to be good for the next several years. There was no lack of excitement in the majority of the Panthers game. As someone who was in San Diego for Week 1, I can attest that Jake Delhomme can have amazing days too.
I still think John Fox is a great head coach, and we would regret it if we let him go. I think Jeff Davidson brings the mentality to be a good running football team. I think the Panthers organization remains classy and one of the best run in the NFL.
Now for a few points I hope to put up for debate:
1) The defense has been on a down trend for the last few seasons. The numbers don't lie. The defense is bigger than #90, but I feel like he has been no different (a little more on that later).
I believe a lot of the time Trgovac and Fox have a decent to good to great game plan in place against a lot of our opponents. The main problem as I see it is that they do not make adjustments very well for the most part. The end result is seeing a defense coming out from half time looking lost after the other team has made the necessary adjustments. The numbers don't lie.
Just like individual game plans, I don't think our defense makes the necessary changes in scheme during the season either.
Credit Fox and Trgovac for making some defensive scheme changes in the offseason to be successful during the first part of this season, especially to cater to a defensive line that didn't have the talent of team's past.
After teams got some game film of us, though, they figured out what we were doing and started putting up big numbers. And we didn't (or wouldn't) make any adjustments. Maybe they believe the scheme is that good- It's not. I don't know that any scheme is good enough not to make adjustments against some of the premier offensive talents of the NFL. The Eagles, just like us, couldn't do it against Larry Fitzgerald. Teams certainly make adjustments for #89 (if they want to win).
The bottom line is, Trgovac needs to go. The defenses have gotten worse, not better, during his tenure and I don't think he can turn in around. That is reason enough to replace him.
I'm sure some of you will say John Fox is involved in the defense, and you're right. This is an indictment of him as well in regards to the defense.
I won't go so far to say that in regards to John Fox the head coach, though. His teams continue to play hard for him in December even when the playoffs are out of reach. I think players may question some of the scheme, but not him as the CEO of the football team.
If anything, maybe we hire a DC with something fresh and let Fox do his job as head coach. Fox is a good defensive coach, but I don't know if he can be a part time DC and full time head coach and do either to the best of his abilities
Herm Edwards was a better coordinator than head coach, and somebody Fox respects and would let do his job. Don't know if he's the answer, but the defense needs something fresh. More of the same just isn't getting it done.
The only thing I will say about this in regards to Peppers is that no one held Peppers back at any point in time except Peppers.
2) I believe the offense has all the pieces to continue to be good for the next few seasons. I don't think people should overlook how well they've played for the most part this season. Especially given our JV offense last year.
Resigning Jordan Gross is priority #1. Double Trouble should continue to be impressive. Steve is going to still be Steve, and I think Moose has at least another couple of years. Dwanye Jarrett has shown enough potential to think he may a decent NFL receiver.
A run based offense is probably never going to be #1 in the NFL in total offense, but scoring 28+ points the majority of games is pretty damn impressive. And fun to watch.
Our offense may not be the best thing since sliced bread, but it's solid and played far more consistently this year than did our defense. A lot more positives than negatives. That being said...
3) We will never win a SuperBowl with Delhomme. At least I don't think at this point. And it pains me to say it. I love Jake. No one on the Panthers has more heart, except maybe Smitty.
But the reality is, I don't think we can go all the way with Jake unless we have a dominant defense like we did in 2003 or 2005. And we don't have a defense like that and probably won't the next couple of years. Which happen to be the last few years of Delhomme's career.
I hope I am wrong. But that being said, Jake's still a pretty good QB, and I don't know that there are any upgrades this offseason. Not in free agency, not in the draft. Jake is a winner. But I just don't know that in all honesty he has the accuracy or consistency to take us back all the way with a defense that isn't dominating. And that is the ultimate goal.
4) Losing Peppers is not the worst thing to happen to this team (Rae Curruth, Fred Lane- issues that transcend football). Let's be honest, it's not good either. Losing Peppers with no compensation in draft picks would be terrible, and an indictment of the front office. Reference priority #1. Must resign Gross so we can franchise Peppers and guarantee something for our investment in Peppers.
Peppers is the anti-Delhomme/ Smitty. A guy with once-in-a-lifetime athletic ability and the heart of the tin man. However, his decision to leave is his own, and he's earned the right to it.
I really am at lack for what more he wants out there, but it is his right. I really do not believe it was the coaching staff, though I'm sure people will disagree.
Fox is right about one thing: Peppers was never held back in Carolina. There are examples on both sides, but when you look at all the players that came through here during Fox's tenure, most did better here than elsewhere (especially defensive players)
John Fox helped turn Michael Strahan into a household name. He doesn't hold back his players who want to suceed (Dan Morgan, Will Witherspoon, Jon Beason, Chris Harris, etc.)
Fox, just like any great coach, challenges his players, especially those with superior and underutilized athletic abilities. I guess some players can't handle that, such as Kris Jenkins and evidently Peppers.
What Peppers wants (as best as I can piece together from his agent and his actions) is to be an elite player, HOF type player but someone who floats mostly under the radar and doesn't have to answer for taking plays off.
That just doesn't exist. It didn't here and it won't anywhere else.
And this bs about a 3-4 system, that's all it is. Peppers will end up in Washington, and we will see him next year. And for what he wants to be paid and his unique ability, he will be critiqued even more there.
Just like Jenkins, I think he will have a strong start but fall off in the 2nd half of next season, when players with the most heart make more plays than those with the most talent.
Both Jenkins and Peppers received good coaching here and were challenged to be better. They both have the God-given abilility to be HOF's, but I think a lack of heart will keep them from that goal.
The coming weeks and months of the offseason are going to be interesting. The Panthers have a lot of good, young players, but obviously need good coaching to go with it.
I think John Fox may be the right guy, but I think he's got to prove it. This year, we were "all in" and had a respectable season, but I think the Richardsons we use next year to see if John Fox has the right long term plan to get the Panthers back to the SuperBowl.
Posted 18 January 2009 - 09:00 PM
Edited by CardiacCat893490, 18 January 2009 - 09:03 PM.
Posted 18 January 2009 - 09:01 PM
2) Totally agree.
3) If Davidson treats Jake as a game manager like Henning did, and not like someone who can carry the team, then we can win the big game with Jake. The focal point of our offense will have to be the running game though.
4) I'm officially off the "Peppers had syphlis last year and that's why he sucked" bandwagon. We'll be better with a GOOD player who brings it every play than a great player who doesn't.
Posted 18 January 2009 - 09:02 PM
Posted 18 January 2009 - 09:07 PM
Posted 18 January 2009 - 09:12 PM