Carolina Panthers- Over Achieving Expectations Focuses On Arizona Next

By PFC Writer Brian Wyant

In 2009 The Carolina Panthers achieved much more than many expected.  As a lifelong fan I was very unsure going into the season.  Questions about how Jake would respond after Tommy John surgery, what effects the off season had for Julius Peppers (was he going to have a much needed and expected breakout year), how would our new rookies Stewart and Otah fare in their inaugural seasons.  Would Jeff Davidson abandon the “Zone Blocking Scheme” introduced and with very mediocre results in the 2007 season.  Would Duane Jarret step up and could we stay healthy.

Well, somewhat to my surprise and many others almost all of the questions I had going into 08/09 have been answered in a very big and beneficial way.  I mean, look at Stewart and Deangelo, wow! what a year and Jake (I know he’s not the best or considered by most to be a great QB) but he is efficient, responded extremely well to the surgery and has been methodically moving along and with all bullets flying is leading this offensive charge.

Davidson has made necessary changes and is learning on the fly after being mentored by the likes of Bellecheck, and Charlie Weis.  He seems to be getting it now.  My only concern is the tendency to take the ball out of Jake’s hands in close games and deep in our own end by stubbornly sticking to the 3 runs and punt theory.  I say, Jake’s our man open things up and let him throw out of those situations more often.

Peppers, not so great, I mean I evaluate him as a “Good” Defensive end not great, not one of the best.  I have watched him and studied him in every game in 2008, (after games on film), he’s an “OK” player, period.  Now, pay him Good money, don’t hold the team hostage by making him one of the top paid defensive players in the league (he doesn’t deserve it and hasn’t earned it).

Coaching has been a B+, what kills me is the way we sit on leads, act as if were ahead by 30 when were ahead by 3 and take time outs into the locker room.  There have been at least two games where we had over a minute to go in the half and were satisfied with running out the clock, when we had timeouts.  This will have to change now that were in the playoff’s or we will not last long.

Our standout MVP player this year has to be Deangelo Williams, what a horse and he has worked extremely hard in the off season to get to the #3 rusher in the NFL.  MVP  Deangelo Williams.   Last year in a game against _______,  Deangelo got to the second level in the D and was heading in for the score, but he got caught from behind.  He resolved that day, he would not allow that to happen again.   Now, what he does is in practice when he touches the ball he runs all the way to the end zone no matter what the play.  His determination, leadership, guts, work ethic and improvements from 2007 make him my selection for the MVP this year.

Jake would be a close second and should have been awarded the “Comeback Player of the Year” award (he was robbed).

Next week Sat. Jan. 10th we will be playing Arizona  at home.   Kurt Warner will be throwing the rock all over the field on Saturday night, last time he was in Charlotte he threw for close to 400 yards.  So, defensive backs and front 4 listen up, front four you must get pressure and make him move out of the pocket, Julius we need you to step it up a few notches this weekend.  D backs no long balls but also don’t be afraid to gamble a little for the int’s.  The Panthers running game should be in full force and I would expect over 100 yards by Williams and close to that for Stewart.

Keys to the game:  Get to Warner, long drives on offense (keeping the ball out of Warners hands) continue the consistency in the running game and +2 on turnovers.  If we can do this we will win.