Exactly what people were saying when Jake was obviously on the decline, is what I'm reading into your posts.
Do you really think hes at the level of decline that Jake was though?
I've stated multiple times that Smitty has been my favorite player on this team, and most likely in the NFL for years. But, yes, I'd say he's declining pretty badly, and quick. Part of the reason he didn't fumble before is because he was so fast in the open field, no one could get a clean shot on him.
The last two weeks, it looked like he was running in place or in slow motion and another defender ran up and knocked the ball out from him, also, if I remember with Spencer last week I think that was a pretty jarring hit. This week the same, both from the side or behind. That never happened before.
I've mentioned his lack of YAC now. It's very possible that breaking that arm twice in the same year may have made him play softer. I never thought I'd say that, but in all seriousness... When have you seen him use his famous stiff arm. He's not the same player.
I know it's hard to accept, but he almost lost us the game last week b/c of a dumbass penalty and then the fumble, and he had a couple drops. Same thing this week, fumble, multiple drops, etc. He can still get open with ease for the most part, but he's nowhere near as fast as he was before.
And although Smitty has been my favorite player for awhile, I see players for what they are. Smitty has been a great player, but look at how much stuff he's done here off the field. He's fought 3 teammates, essentially ending 2 of their careers. He's talked poo about several things going on in the organization, whether it be players, front office, whatever. He's carried the diva attitude along the way - which I've always enjoyed watching with guys like him, Ocho, and T.O.
Problem is, once your skills are diminishing, that stuff isn't acceptable and excused anymore, nor is it entertaining. We, as a franchise, have bent the rules for him and he continued to act in the same way regardless. As someone else mentioned him talking about the rookie WRs weren't kissing his ass enough and such... Yet, he doesn't want to be a #1 anymore... So which is it??? Sounds like an identity crisis.
I said it last week... Usually when Smitty gets fired up and goes after an opposing player, he wins the battle. When he went after Spencer last week, and then Spencer got him back and made him fumble, I said that may have been the beginning of the end, or at least the first visual sign of it for Smitty. He never lost when he challenged a guy that I ever remember... Deangelo Hall for example...
My point is, he has been a dick throughout his career here, but we all looked the other way because we loved what he could do on the field. He can't do those things anymore, but he still appears to be as volatile. They wiped out the roster of vets, but kept him... Yes, he's still the best WR we have even if he has declined, but we may as well cut our losses.
He still has a few good performing years left but I don't see him regaining the 'gamebreaking' form that made him who he was before. I'd love for him to retire a Panther but it seems he's just turning into that angry 'old' man that can't adapt to or accept who he's become. So, we may as well try to get some value for him because he's not going to get any better.
As much poo as I've talked about him in this thread, he has been my favorite player, but my team comes first. And if you've ever been a fan of him as a player... Honestly, do you really think it's good for him to be here with the current state of the team and the QB situation. He's pissed b/c they can't get him the ball when he does get open, he's dropping it more than ever when they do get it to him, he's fumbling in critical times, and we can see through his demonstrations - he's still demanding the ball, which he has the right to.
But, that has all the makings of bad things to come. Even worse than just a losing record. I still want him to do well, but there's no telling what will happen at QB. I believe the handling of the QB situation cost him the last 2 seasons or so, and possible HOF consideration. So, it's been unfair to him as well. And we've reached our ceiling with him as far as potential with what this offense can do until we find a franchise QB.