TPP has a new home

31 August 2010 1 comment

Check out the new digs: http://www.thepantherplaybook.com

I’m moving it back to blogger with my other blog so I can keep better tabs on both. Plus, it’s cheaper to host it with Google than it is with WP.

It will take me a while to get the archives built back up because there’s no button to press to move them all automatically, but that will be finished in a few weeks.

Thanks for reading.

Categories: Uncategorized

This is Moore’s team

17 August 2010 4 comments

Apparently, there’s really not a QB controversy in Carolina, as much as the media wants us to believe there is one (imagine that). They’re just going to have to deal with the fact that low-key Matt Moore is the starter instead of media-darling Jimmy Clausen at the present time.

An article by Jim Corbett in USA today focused on the Panthers and starting quarterback Matt Moore. Here are just a few of the quotes from the column.

Emphasis mine on all quotes.

Corbett:

One thing is clear: There’s no quarterback controversy in Carolina despite a lingering national perception that the job is open since the Panthers drafted Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen 48th overall.

Moore:

When Jimmy was drafted, I got some calls from a bunch of people … Then, Coach Fox called and said,”Don’t read into this. You’re the guy. You’ve proved to us you could play last year.”

Fox:

Matt’s our starting quarterback, and you can’t control all the stuff on the outside … Our team knows he’s our quarterback. He’s got the temperament and all the physical skills. What hurt us last year was the inability in the passing game.

Smitty:

Matt’s earned everything he’s got … He took a tough road. It’s finally worked out for him. This is his team.

Dear Media:

If you happen to be reading this, please take note of the quotes I have listed above, especially the one from Foxy. It’s straight from the horse’s mouth: the Panthers don’t have a QB controversy.

Please, let it go.

Sincerely,

The Panther Playbook

Categories: Preseason Tags: ,

Steve Smith activated from PUP list

16 August 2010 Leave a comment

According to Darin Gantt, Smitty is cleared to practice with the team after suffering a broken arm during the offseason (the same arm he broke against the Giants in Week 16 last year).

Gantt:

WR Steve Smith was activated from the physically unable to perform list, and ran a few routes during individual drills this morning. … That’s not to say he’s going to take any contact soon, as they want to make sure that broken left arm is ready for the regular season opener.

This is great news! Smitty has been seen on the field since the start of camp, but this is the first time he’s been cleared to participate in team drills, though they probably will hold off on the contact since it would be best for him to be ready for opening day.

Categories: Preseason, Training Camp Tags:

Do we really have a QB controversy in Carolina?

13 August 2010 Leave a comment

Okay, Matt Moore didn’t light the world on fire last night against the Ravens. We get that. It was his first snaps of live action (just like everyone else), and he was a little rusty.

Normally, that would be okay, but there’s one problem: Jimmy Clausen played very well.

Granted, Clausen played against the Ravens’ 2nd team defense, which by comparison to the 1st team is like fighting a dog instead of a grizzly bear, but he still had a lot of poise and moxie to be a rookie playing in his first NFL game, even if it was the pre-season. He called audibles at the line, pointed out blitzers to his linemen, and took care of the football. His one turnover was due to a receiver falling on the turf after the ball was already thrown. He made a few great throws, a few good throws, but not too many bad throws. He ran with the ball to get a first down (and slid just in the nick of time to avoid needing dental work).

In short: Jimmy Clausen looked like a starting NFL quarterback against the Ravens, while Matt Moore looked like a backup quarterback.

Fellow CSR author James the Aussie had a few thoughts on Clausen in his weekly Monday Morning Optimist column, and among the things he pointed out about the rookie quarterback, the following statement stood out to me the most:

What I saw from Clausen was a player who did not look like a rookie QB walking into his first NFL huddle, he looked like a 5 year pro. For comparison I went back and looked at some footage of Mark Sanchez and Matt Stafford late in the 2009 season and for Clausen’s 9 series he looked more comfortable at the line of scrimmage than either of those QBs did in December.

That’s a huge compliment for a guy playing in his first career NFL game. I don’t care if he ran a pro-style offense at Notre Dame, the NFL is an entirely different animal, and for him to have that kind of poise is nothing short of amazing.

Now, I will cut Moore some slack – he made a few good plays that were called back due to penalties on the offensive line (notably Jordan Gross). He made some nice throws, and his stat line isn’t bad. But, it’s just the way he looked on the field – like he was a nervous kid playing in his first game, not like the guy who won the fanbase over at the end of last season when he led a dejected Panthers squad to a 4-1 finish to salvage an 8-8 season, including two brilliant performances against the Vikings and Giants.

The media is going to take this QB story and run with it, because frankly, they want Jimmy Clausen to be the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers. He is a media darling and former Notre Dame quarterback who was supposed to be a top-10 pick in the draft, but somehow fell into the Panthers’ laps at pick 48 in the 2nd round. So look for the flurry of QB controversy stories to hit the internet and television over the next few weeks, because the fact that Clausen looked so confident in his limited action is only going to feed the fire.

As for me, I don’t think there’s really a controversy yet. I still need to see Clausen perform against a team’s starting defense before I believe that he’s truly ready to take the reigns away from Moore and lead this Panthers team on Sundays. I look for Clausen to get some reps with the 1st team at some point in the pre-season, and when he does the media will certainly be all over it, foaming at the mouth to create the first real quarterback controversy in Charlotte since Jake Delhomme took over for Rodney Peete way back in 2003.

It’s been a long time, and the media is hungry for a story, so don’t expect this to go away any time soon. If Moore continues to struggle in the pre-season and Clausen continues to play well with the 2nd team, this thing is going to get blown way out of proportion, and the cries for Jimmy are going to get louder and louder until Clausen finally gets into the starting lineup.

But don’t expect Fox to listen, as we’ve learned from the past 7 years – it takes a lot for a starter to lose his spot on the depth chart with Foxy at the helm.

Panthers open pre-season with loss to Ravens

12 August 2010 Leave a comment

The final score says that the Ravens defeated the Panthers 17-12 Thursday night in Baltimore, but we all know that the final score of a pre-season game means practically nothing. It’s the individual achievements of the players that really matter. How did the veterans look after a long off-season? Which rookies made a name for themselves? Who moved up the depth chart thanks to good play?

If you watched the same game that I did, you will not like the answers to those questions.

The Panthers looked sloppy for the majority of the game. Granted the 2nd half was played on a slip-n-slide due to the rain, but the starters looked pretty rusty in their first half action. Especially the offensive line. They were manhandled by the Ravens’ defense, allowing the Baltimore linemen to get consistent pressure on the quarterback and disrupt most of the passing plays that were called. And the passes that did manage to get past the defense were for naught as stupid penalties negated nice pass plays by Matt Moore. Jordan Gross looked completely lost on the field last night, and hopefully that can be attributed to his extended time off last year after injuring his leg and ending up on IR.

There’s bound to be a quarterback controversy in Carolina after the struggles of Moore (even if they weren’t completely his fault), because backup rookie sensation Jimmy Clausen came in and played well. He led the offense down the field and would have led the offense to a touchdown if not for Brandon LaFell’s drop in the end zone or Tyrell Sutton’s fumble at the 1-yard line. Clausen looked more confident than a rookie playing in his first game against an NFL defense, and he made quick decisions and took care of the football very well (he threw one interception on a fluke play when the receiver slipped and fell down in the middle of his route). (Clausen highlights can be seen here.*)

One guy who impressed me on offense was fullback Tony Fiametta. Fiametta is replacing former fullback Brad Hoover as the lead blocker for Double Trouble, and he looked good in the time he was in the game. He made a few nice blocks, and even made  a couple of nice catches for good yardage. If he keeps playing like he played last night, we won’t miss Hoover at all. Hopefully he can keep it up and the running game doesn’t suffer because of poor fullback play.

The defense looked sloppy overall, but there were a few good plays from a couple of guys who stood out in a positive way. Rookies Greg Hardy and Eric Norwood had nice showings, but things didn’t go so well for Captain Munnerlyn, who proved that he isn’t ready to get significant playing time outside of the nickel spot. Tyler Brayton had a few nice plays, until he left the game in the first half after injuring his ankle (it doesn’t appear to be serious – he walked off the field under his own power), but Everette Brown was nowhere to be found.

Special teams were decent, but not as good as they could be. Jason Baker had some nice punts, but the coverage struggled to get down field in time to take advantage of the good kicks. The kickoff team needs some work, and the Panthers are still in need of someone who can kick off and give the coverage a chance to get down the field in time to make a tackle, as they gave up a few returns that could have been avoided with better hang time on the kicks. Armanti Edwards looked decent in his first game as a punt returner, but he has a lot of work to do before he’s ready to take the role full time when the games count. The kickoff return team didn’t get much of a chance to show what they can do, as the Ravens kicked the ball in the end zone almost every time they kicked off.

There seemed to be a few problems with the snap on field goal plays, as John Kasay missed an extra point due to a bad snap/hold, and a field goal attempt was denied at the end of the first half because of a poor snap that prevented the holder from getting the ball down in time for a kick.

On the bright side, most of the problems the team had against the Ravens are fixable, and it’s normal to have some rust in the first pre-season game. I’m going to hold off on any major judgment until I see this type of play carry over into the 2nd and 3rd pre-season games.  If they still look like crap after the 3rd game, then I will start to have some concern.

Overall, it was a decent effort by the Panthers. Too bad they didn’t get a win, but again, it doesn’t really matter at this point, because the wins and losses mean absolutely nothing in the pre-season.

And not that I’m counting, but last night’s loss marks the 6th straight pre-season loss by the Panthers. Maybe that streak can end next week when they take on the Jets at the Bank.

Not that it matters, because as long as the starters get in quality work and stay healthy, everything else is gravy. After all, it is just the pre-season.

* * * *

* – Video courtesy of NFL.com

Did the Panthers steal the next Peppers?

2 August 2010 1 comment

There has been a lot of chatter lately about Panthers 6th round pick Greg Hardy, the defensive end from Ole Miss, and most of the talk centers around the pre-draft rumors that Hardy “[was a guy with] a poor work ethic and a guy who simply disappeared for long periods of time”.

The funny thing is: he was at one time projected to be the first pick overall. In the entire draft. But, that was before he went back to Ole Miss for his senior year, and before he developed his reputation for being a problem child. (Some sources say that he missed as many as 20 team meetings and constantly challenged his coaches.)

So how did the kid end up on the Carolina Panthers, the one NFL team above all with the reputation of avoiding trouble-makers at all costs? Could it be that the rumors about Hardy just simply aren’t true? Could it be that the kid got an undeserved rep while in school? Apparently, the Panthers brass feel that the knocks on Hardy’s reputation are simply rumor, because what they saw was an early round talent sitting in the stockpile in the sixth round, and they knew that they could use a guy with Hardy’s speed and athleticism on the defensive line, so they took a chance.

And so far, they are glad they did.

Panthers defensive line coach Brian Baker says he heard the rumors about Hardy before the draft. But after working with him for a few months, he’s convinced they simply aren’t true and that the kid does have the desire. “I was a college coach for 12 years before I came to the league, and in the 15 since then it’s the same thing — guys get labels on them sometimes … sometimes it’s legit and sometimes it’s not. In his case it hasn’t been legit.”

To Hardy it’s all a bit perplexing, because he prides himself on his work ethic. Perhaps that’s why he seems like a caged animal fighting for his freedom every day on the field. Case in point. On the final day of OTAs every year, the Panthers run conditioning tests. Hardy ran against the rest of the team’s linemen, four times back and forth across the width of the football field. It wasn’t close. Hardy blew away the competition by more than 20 yards. Then he did it again. And again.

Hardy, on his work ethic:

That’s one of the things a lot of people don’t think I have, but I’m going to constantly prove that I do … I’m going to be more in shape. I’m going to be more physical. I’m going to be faster because I’m out here grinding. I came to camp like that and I’m going to leave camp like that. That’s me in general every day of the week, all year long…

Sounds to me like he’s a kid with an undeserved bad reputation who wants nothing more but to come out and prove his detractors wrong.

It would be nice if he can come out and give the same production he had at Ole Miss — 26.5 career sacks, 7 forced fumbles (recovering 4)  and  39.5 tackles for a loss — because the Panthers can use all the help on the defensive line they can get. It would be an added bonus if that help is a reincarnation of the best defensive end in franchise history.

* * * *
Quotes courtesy of Steve Reed, Carolina Growl.

Categories: Training Camp Tags:

It’s that time again…

25 July 2010 1 comment

The start of training camp is just around the corner for the Panthers (Thursday, to be exact), which means that there should be plenty of things to talk about in the next few weeks. There will be camp battles for various positions, rookies trying to make a name for themselves and get significant playing time,  and of course there will be a few of the “I didn’t see that one coming” moments before the Panthers break camp on August 18.

So sit back and relax, and prepare for football season, because it will be here before you know it. Hopefully I will be here, blogging the team news from camp as I get pumped for a new season of Panthers football. And hopefully you will be here as well, reading right along with me.

More to come in the next few days as the team heads off to camp…

Categories: Preseason, Training Camp