Archive for the ‘NFC SOUTH’ Category

Panthers put a whipping on Texans

Posted: December 19, 2011 in NFC SOUTH

Oh Carolina.  Another meaningless win, another slot lower in next years upcoming draft.  The panthers defeated Houston Texans 28-13 Sunday and all but assured that they are out of the running for Justin Blackmon.  While it is true that this team needs alot on defense.  There can be no doubt about the lack of talent on the defensive line or the depth and playmaking ability of the linebacker corp without Jon Beason this year or Thomas Davis who’s injuries like spell the end.  Offense is where they should go in the draft.  Byr offense I mean get Newton a big time reciever.  While Smith is still above average, he ain’t getting any younger.  Olsen and Shockey have carried the passing game.  But Shockey’s tread is getting thin as well.  The other recievers outside on Legado Naannee, who they picked up from San Diego,{he is better suited in a complimentary role} are woeful at best.  Armanti Edwards doesn’t look like he will ever transistion from college QB, Pilares hasn’t impressed and Lafell is good not great.  The team is still trying to replace Mushin Muhommed plain and simple.  Until they do that, Newton will be running alot since the recievers can’t get open.

Right now the Panthers are tied for seventh worst record along with four other teams which means they could draft as low as 10th.  Blackmon will surely go in the top 10.  So while I love to see Carolina get a W, I would surely rather have the dynamic Blackmon on offense to replace Smith at some point rather than having Brandon Thompson or Melvin Ingram clogging up the middle on running downs next year. {Get over it Cock fans Ingram ain’t gonna be the next Dwight Freeney in th NFL}.  Call me crazy but yet again next week I– like any other smart fan should– will be pulling for Carolina to play well and come up just short.

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Carolina has their coach, but the question remains. What is Ron Rivera going to do now? There is so much for the Panthers to do before the season, that I imagine new coach Ron Rivera doesn’t know where to start. The team has the first overall pick in this April’s upcoming draft…the problem now lies in what to do with it. Team needs so much. The ideal situation would be to trade down and collect a few picks. This is especially critical for a team with no second round pick. However, with the collective bargaining agreement in doubt, there may be no takers. Whatever happens, it needs to start now. The new regime in town has to come up with a plan to get this team hungry again. The first place to start is with Jimmy Clausen. Assuming the team will not resign free agent Matt Moore…which seems unlikely at this point…Clausen is going to need a stop-gap mentor. Last year was painfully obvious that Clausen was not ready to be the next Matt Ryan. Whether or not a few years down the road Clausen came become a descent NFL quarterback has yet to be seen. What we do know is right now he isn’t. A veteran quarterback needs to be brought in for the time being. Me personally I have always been a huge fan of ST Pierre. How quickly ESPN forgets their own report that he outplayed the golden boy Leinhart in Arizona two years ago. I though they should have let him have the keys to the offense more last year. Whether the team is able to trade down in order to draft a Gabbert type, we will have to wait and see. What history has shown us is most likely he won’t be ready to play. Oh yeah and where does it say that because Clausen is from the bigger school and was picked first, that he gets the only shot at starting. Anyone remember Matt Flynn vs. Brian Brohm in Green Bay? Where is Tony Pike? Is he still on the team? Secondly, how willing is the team going to be to resign Deangelo Williams. There were rumblings last offseason of a trade. My opinion is this would be a huge mistake. While Jonathan Stewart is a terrific back in his own right, the one two punch was the main thing missing from the offense this past year. Goodsen is a 1b back. That is he is nice backup to have and use in spot duty, but he is not the workhorse that the team needs right now. Third, is the o-line. We need to make sure Jeff Otah is healthy. Without him, the line appeared to be average at best. When Otah is in the line we have two bookend tackles. Also, they need to use the tight end more. Jeff King and Gary Barnidge are solid, but I feel that Dante Rosario could be a breakout player in the Kellen Winslow Jr mold. Next, are we going to draft Bowers at DE? What about DT Nick Fairly? Why haven’t we seen more of Eric Norwood or Everett Brown? Other than Charles Johnson, the defensive line was woeful this year. I still don’t understand how Tyler Brayton keeps a starting job in the league. This will most likely be where the biggest decision of the offseason takes place. This team simply has not replaced Peppers. They need to start here if we are to get any pressure on the opposing QB. I think we are set at linebacker. It is the strength of the team. Last year wreaked havoc on the unit. However if some combination if Thomas Davis, Dan Connor, James Anderson, and Jon Beason are on the field, we are going to be ok. The secondary is a crapshoot. While looking at the stats, it appears they were fairly good last year. However, there just isn’t the consistent level of play, not to mention big plays from this unit that the team needs. Martin is a big hitter. But he has hands of stone. Charles Godfrey is a physical presence, but he is generously listed at 5’11”. I feel that the safeties must be addressed at some point. Jerry Richardson has said he has full confidence in coach Ron Rivera. We can only hope he can come through. He seems to be off to the right start with the hiring of Chud. There are a lot of things to do in Carolina….better get to it Panthers.

Panthers give offense over to Chud

Posted: January 18, 2011 in NFC SOUTH
Carolina Panthers to hand offense to Chudzinski

Changes figure to lie ahead with Chargers assistant known to develop tight end position.

By Darin Gantt
dgantt@heraldonline.com
Posted: Monday, Jan. 17, 2011

Ron Rivera got his man, and the Carolina Panthers appear headed for some changes on offense.

The Panthers agreed to a deal with San Diego assistant Rob Chudzinski to be their offensive coordinator, with only a contract signing standing in the way of the official announcement.

He was the first choice of Rivera, who had to sell him to Panthers officials who had built their own list of candidates before hiring Rivera. Chudzinski, 42, interviewed Friday.

Chudzinski, who played on two NCAA championship teams as a tight end at Miami, has a reputation for developing talent at that position, which would be new around here. He also has had success leading offenses, and with the Panthers coming off a league-worst year in points and yards, that’s something they could use.

Former Panthers linebacker Dan Morgan was playing at Miami when Chudzinski was beginning his rise in the coaching ranks, and said he thinks the Panthers made an excellent decision.

“He’s a great guy, and he just has such a bright mind, he really knows the game of football,” Morgan said. “I know from seeing it first-hand, he’s a great teacher, and he’s had a lot of success with different guys over the years. He just has a gift for putting guys in the right places to make plays.

“He’s not a yeller and a screamer, but he’s a teacher, and he’s definitely got the smarts for this job.”

The biggest change he could bring is at his old position.

Since five-time Pro Bowler Wesley Walls was released after the 2002 season, the Panthers have had a hard time getting much from their tight ends. In fact, Kris Mangum’s 34 catches during 2004 are the most by a Panthers tight end since Walls.

This year, Carolina’s tight ends combined for 51 catches for 385 yards, led by Dante Rosario. Starter Jeff King is the best blocker of the lot, and he had 19 catches and two touchdowns.

Third-year man Gary Barnidge didn’t have a catch this season, but he probably has the most potential to be the all-around answer they’re apparently looking for.

Rivera said the search was on in his introductory news conference, when discussing the team’s offensive personnel.

“The tight end is by committee,” he said. “There are three guys there I like and they each have a quality of their own. But if there is a guy out there whether through the draft or free agency or on our roster that can become that guy that does it all of the time, we have to find him. I think that will help us as an offense.”

By hiring Chudzinski, he has a guy who could bring about that kind of change.

Chudzinski coached three All-Americans at Miami (Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow), and under his tutelage, San Diego’s Antonio Gates had his only 1,000-yard seasons during 2005 and 2009.

He also has succeeded at the macro level.

When he was Cleveland’s offensive coordinator during 2007, the Browns were eighth in the league in scoring and yardage, helping quarterback Derek Anderson to his most productive season. Anderson threw for 3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns that year, leading to Pro Bowl invitation.

As the Hurricanes offensive coordinator in 2001-03, he led offenses that played in three Bowl Championship Series games and won two national championships. In 2002, the Hurricanes set school records for points and yards, losing only to Ohio State in the title game.

His hiring also illustrates the shuffle-the-deck reality of coaching. He replaced Jeff Davidson here and in Cleveland, and was replaced in Cleveland by Brian Daboll. Daboll was just hired by the Miami Dolphins to replace Dan Henning, whom Davidson replaced here in 2007.

 Well, you know what they say, if at first you don’t succeed…..try eight more times until someone hires you. 

That is how it worked out for Ron Rivera, at least.  Rivera—who played linebacker for the Chicago Bears for nine seasons…including their 1985 Super bowl year– was hired by the Carolina Panthers Tuesday to fill their head coaching vacancy left open after the firing of Coach John Fox last week. 

For Rivera it had to be sweet after all it was the ninth such head coaching job he has been interviewed for.  Rivera –who showed up for his introductory presser with an all-business attitude– said, “I’m thrilled to death for the opportunity.  I almost want to say relief.”

Team president Danny Morrison stated that Rivera had signed a four year deal with no option year.  According to reports from ESPN senior analyst Chris Mortensen, the deal is worth $11.2 million over the length of the contract.  That breaks down to just over half of what Coach Fox earned last year. 

Panther fans can expect a no nonsense attitude from Rivera who’s reputation as a defensive coach speaks for itself.  He was in charge of a San Diego team that led the league in passing and total defense this past year.  He was also at the helm in 2005 and 2006 when the Chicago Bears finished second and third in the league respectively.  Those Bears teams made the playoffs both years as well as their Super bowl appearance in ’06.

Rivera said that he would take a hands-on approach to the defense with Carolina.  Despite running the 3-4 in San Diego, he has also said because of personnel he would keep the 4-3 in Carolina for now.

Rivera has a lot of work ahead of him.  The Panthers finished 2-14 this past season as inexperience and injury played a big part in their struggles.  Panther’s owner Jerry Richardson is looking to Rivera to turn things around in a hurry.

Richardson has stated that, “The fact that [Rivera] and I both are former players seems to have led to a quick bonding for us.”

Rivera was just one of four defensive coach who were interviewed by general manager Marty Hurney and Danny Morrison last week.  Perry Fewell of the New York Giants, Rob Ryan (twin brother of New York Jets coach Rex) DC of the Cleveland Browns, and Greg Manusky of the San Francisco 49ers were the other three.  Only Rivera got a call for the second interview.

That interview took place Monday evening in Charlotte.  Richardson, Hurney, and Morrison met with Coach Rivera and on Tuesday, he was named the fourth coach in team history.