• Author:
  • Published: Aug 29th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on The Rams have a long road back to respectability.

The Rams have a long road back to respectability.

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The good news at QB is that the Rams have a legitimate backup—Kyle Boller. The bad news is the way the O line plays, they will need Boller and Brock Berlin to replace starter Marc Bulger when he gets hurt. Bulger is a top QB on a team with an O line that couldn’t protect a Sherman Tank.

Bulger has had passer ratings in the 90’s when the team had an O line and receivers that could catch the ball in 2002-2006. In 07 and 08 Orlando Pace was hurt and there were more injured O linemen than healthy ones. Bulger had a rating of 70.3 in 07 and 71.4 last year. Bulger needs some better protection if the Rams’ O is going to improve.

The running game has suffered a similar fate to the passing game. RB Steven Jackson is as good as any but has struggled the last few years. In 06 he carried 346 times for a 4.4 average. In 07 he had averaged 4.2 and in 08 4.1. He failed to finish either of those two seasons healthy. He is capable of being the difference in close games that the Rams could not close out last year. He has 4 guys behind him but the team will probably keep 2 or 3 at the most. HB Kenneth Darby is a 3rd down type slasher back who may not be able to carry the load should Jackson go down. Antonio Pittman has the ability but has had trouble staying healthy. Pittman could be the odd man out. The team drafted Chris Ogbonnaya in the 2nd round this year and he will stick. They also signed vet Samkon Gado who does everything OK but is not outstanding in any way. He and Pittman will battle for a 4th rb if the Rams keep that many. The FB will be vet Mike Karney.

The WR is a gab bag at best. The corps is 2nd year Donnie Avery and a bunch of guys. And Avery is a #2 quality WR at best. He is out now with a broken foot. Keenan Burton is always hurting. Laurent Robinson is trying to revive his career with the team. So far he looks decent and may win a starting job. Derek Stanley is recovering from an ACL. Players usually take 12 months to fully recover. Good luck to the Ram QBs depending on this group. The TE situation isn’t much brighter. Randy McMichael is capable when healthy. He missed 12 games last year with a serious foot injury. So far he looks OK. The rest of the group is a long shot at best.

The O line has been the walking wounded for the last 2 years. It is no different this year. The best of the group is T Alex Barron and C Jason Brown. Barron has been hurt (knee) and is in the last year of his deal. 4 year vet Brown has developed nicely and is solid. LG Jacob Bell was signed from the Titans last year and has yet to prove he is worth his game check. He is now suffering from a concussion. G Richie Incognito is a penalty magnet. He needs to get his head in the game. Rookie RT Jason Smith is going to start but has trouble with quick DE pass rush. The Rams have 10 reserve OL guys and hope to find 4 that are good enough to stick. Don’t bet on it.

The D line will be a challenge as well. The starting 4 will be LDE Victor Adeyanju, LDT Adam Carriker, RDT Clifton Ryan and RDE Chris Long with backup E Leonard Little in reserve. Long and Carriker are good as long as the later can stay healthy. Ryan and Adeyanju are fair at best. Little is a pass rusher and little (excuse the pun) else. They drafted T Darell Scott in the 4th but there isn’t much else. The problem will be that they need at least 2 more good DL guys to make a full rotation.

The linebacker crew is looking much better thanks to the addition of 2nd round steal MLB James Laurinaitis from Ohio State. He attacks the run and is an effective blitzer. Last year’s MLB Will Witherspoon slides to the weak side and should be fine. He is a playmaker. Chris Draft will start on the strong side and is OK. Larry Grant and David Vobora have potential but little experience in the backup roles.

FS Oshiomogho Atogwe and SS James Butler are set. Atogwe has good ball skills and Butler was brought here by Head Coach Spagnuolo from the Giants. The CBs are a question mark. The starters should be Ron Bartell and Tye Hill. Bartell got experience filling in for the injured Hill last year. Hill is battling young Justin King. King had the inside track last season before a toe injury ended his season. Jonathan Wade has the physical tools but has not yet learned what to do with them. He needs to learn the game and become consistent.

OVERALL: The Rams are a good bet to have an early draft choice next year again. But they are getting better with a good draft in 09 and some decent FAs. Spagnuolo should be able to get these guys to play hard and in the NFC West, that could get him some wins. I still expect the Rams to be 4th in the weakest division in the league.  The only Fantasy players are Bulger, Jackson, and maybe Avery.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: nfl,NFL Draft,Bulger,Jackson,Pittman,Avery,McMichael,Smith,Barron,Brown,Incognito,Long,Carriker,Ryan,Laurinaitis,Witherspoon,Atogwe,Butler,Hilli,King,Spagnuolo,Fantasy football,Giants
  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 27th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on The Cards' season will depend on how the D plays.

The Cards' season will depend on how the D plays.

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The Cardinals remarkable run in the 08 playoffs had little to do with the offense. It was the much improved play of the D that made the run possible. The only way the team makes the playoffs in 09 will be if the D continues to improve. So far in the preseason, that is not happening.

Kurt Warner is one of the great stories in football over the last few years. He continues to play at a very high level even though he is 38 years old. He has to stay healthy for the team to have any chance at a winning record. The protection he has gotten for the last 4 season in Arizona has been poor to average. If he is healthy, he will have another pro bowl year and is a great pick in the fantasy draft. Matt Leinart has had a good preseason and looks like he is finally able to read D and use his obvious physical abilities. He has clinched the backup position. The 3rd QB will be between Brian St. Pierre and undrafted Tyler Palko. That will depend on which has looked better in camp. St.Pierre was given a chance to challenge for #2 but failed totally.

WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are the best combo in the league. 3rd WR Steve Breaston came on strong last year in both the return game and catching passes. But he is hurt with a knee and PCL injury but should be fine for game 1. Jerheme Urban and Early Doucet are very talented and need only more experience to become starting quality. TEs have a lot of potential but little production. Leonard Pope is projected as the starter with Stephen Spach and Ben Patrick as the backups. Pope is a big target but is too tall to be an effective blocker. Spach is coming off a major injury and Patrick is suspended for the first 4 games. Vet Anthony Becht should make the team and is a better blocker then any of the others. How long he stays will depend on how the others develop.

The running back situation is also a little clouded. Last year rookie Tim Hightower was celebrated by some as the Cards’ answer at RB. But in 143 attempts he averaged 2.8 yards per carry. That is more than a yard under what is considered average around the league. He can catch and block a little but is not the plow horse that the team needs to carry 250 times a year. The team realized that and drafted Beanie Wells (Ohio St.). Wells has the ability to be a starting back with power and break away speed but has a history of injury. He has yet to play in the preseason but is expected to see action this week. There is no viable bench strength.

The O line had an up and down year in 08. They were up during the playoffs but down the last half of the regular season. LG Reggie Wells is not well known but is very good. T s Mike Gandy and Levi Brown are average but Brown is young and should develop. C Lyle Sendlein is coming back from injury last year. G Deuce Lutui needs to keep focused. He is very inconsistent. The bench is barely OK. G Elton Brown and C Donovan Raiola have some starting experience. The staff thinks T Herman Johnson potential but I don’t see it.

The D line seemed to turn their top effort on and off like the light in a refrigerator. It was on in the playoffs and they looked outstanding. It has been off so far this preseason. The starters in the 3-4 are LE Darnell Dockett, NT Gabe Watson, RE Calais Campbell. Dockett is the only dependable player there. Watson has a history of injury putting him out for long periods of time. There is no reliable backup at NT. Campbell is the new guy replacing UFA Antonio Smith. We have seen a few flashes from Campbell but he is going to have to work harder every snap. Bryan Robinson has experience at E and NT but the team would prefer to play him at E if Campbell fails. NTs Alan Branch and Rodney Leisle have two things in common. They have the weight to play the position but have not had much production.

At LB, the best part is inside. IBs Karlos Dansby and Gerald Hayes are very good. Dansby can do it all including cover receivers and Hayes is an outstanding run stuffer. OLB Chike Okeafor is a fair blitzer but he and Clark Haggans are getting old. The team drafted both OLBs Cody Brown and Will Davis to replace them in the future.

The D backfield has the potential to be outstanding. Starting CBs Bryant McFadden and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are both potential stars. McFadden came from Pittsburgh and is starting quality with upside. Rodgers added the Cromartie to his name just before the draft to remind everyone he is the cousin of start CB Antonio Cromartie of San Diego. Rodgers is not quite to his cousin’s level but is coming fast. Safeties Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle are very good as well. Wilson is all pro and plays like it. Rolle was a very good CB who is a better FS. The nickel back is CB Ralph Brown and rookie Greg Toler has looked good in camp.

OVERALL: The Cards O is fine IF Warner is healthy. The D will determine how far the team can go this year. If it plays like it did during the playoffs, the team should make the playoffs in 09 and do some damage there. If not, it will be a huge disappoint to the Cardinal fans that expect the team to be back in the Super Bowl. That isn’t going to happen but they are in a weak division and have a good shot at the division title.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Fantasy Football,Cardinals,Warner,Leinart,Fitzgerald,Boldin,Breaston,Hightower,Wells,Gandy,Lutui,Brown,Dockett,Campbell,Smith,Watson,Dansby,Haggans,Davis,Cromartie,Rogers-Cromartie,Chargers,Steelers,McFadden,Rolle,Wilson

Tuesday morning QB. Analysis: Sanchez has all the tools except experience in the NFL.

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New York Jets 2009 Football Headshots

Note: I am considering making this a regular feature during the NFL season. Let me know what you think.

When the first all out blitz came from the Ravens, Jet QB Mark Sanchez put the ball up for grabs. Ray Lewis came in untouched and caused the Int. The Raven D linemen Haloti Ngata caught it and ran it 25 yards for a TD. I was thinking about John Madden. As he said in the movie The Replacements, he loved to see a big guy score.

There was almost a second interception when IB Lewis caught Sanchez staring down his receiver. In part because he had been so rattled by the blitzes he never took his eyes off his intended target. Again, the ball never got there because it ended up in Lewis’ hands. Lewis dropped it or it would have been the second D TD for the Ravens. At that point, Sanchez was probably wondering where the red no tackle jersey was.

The problem is in part the same increase in speed that every rookie QB goes through coming into the NFL from college. But with Sanchez there is another issue at work as well—He just doesn’t have enough experience playing QB. Sanchez sat for a year behind Matt Leinart then 2 years behind John David Booty. Leinart was a 1st round pick but Booty was a 5th round after thought of the Vikings.

The history of QBs in the NFL is littered with those that played only one year. The most obvious was the 1999 3rd overall choice by Cincinnati of Akili Smith of Oregon. Smith started only one year for the Ducks and went from undrafted rookie camp invitee to the 3rd pick in the first round. He never worked out in part because he didn’t have the experience or patents to learn the offense. The one thing we can say about Sanchez is that he has patents. He waited for 3 years as USC.

Sanchez has improved a little in his 4 months as a pro. He looked good against the Rams in his first action of the preseason. But the Rams D is bad and he was going against their 2nd and 3rd team guys. Most of those guys will be learning key phrases for their future profession like “would you like fries with that?”

A couple of things that Sanchez is doing now he was not doing as a USC starter. Perhaps the most important is that he is holding the ball much higher as he drops to find a receiver. That is critical because it reduces the time between him finding a potential target and getting rid of the ball. His release has been improved by better mechanics.

He is accurate on the move when he finds someone to throw to. As Sanchez was being chased to the sideline he found a WR open and got the ball to former Missouri QB Brad Smith. The completion was called back for Smith interfering with the DB.

The lack of experience shows the most in his inability to make quick reads of the coverage. There are a lot of blitzes and combinations of man and zone coverage he has not seen before. All young QBs are easily confused. One that has only one year of starting in college is particularly behind. He goes down in part because he is watching the blitz rather than looking down field for a receiver.

I do like the improvement in his footwork. Like all young QBs, at USC, Sanchez tended to have happy feet. He would not set his feet before he threw the ball. He is doing better with the Jets. He showed a couple of happy feet dances when the rush was coming close. But on a TD throw under some pressure, he set his feet and drilled the ball to Washington for the score.

OVERALL: Sanchez is going to be OK. I am not sure he will ever become a dominant QB that would justify the 4th overall pick. He has a lot to learn. The entire organization is new and has some time to turn the fortunes of the Jets around. We all are sure that the other QBs on the Jets can not lead them to a Super Bowl. Because the Jets have a good O line, I would put Sanchez in and let him learn on the job. I have never been a big fan of how much better a QB gets holding the clipboard. Whether he starts or not, the Jets will take a step back in overall record. But they will be better off in the long run. The Colts didn’t win much when Payton Manning was a rookie starter either but that has worked out pretty well.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Fantasy Football,Jets,Ravens,Sanchez,Ngata,Vikings,Cardinals,Smith,Bengals,Leinart,Booty,Madden,USC,Oregon,Manningham,Colts
  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 24th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Rap up of Preseason Week 2 Key games

Rap up of Preseason Week 2 Key games

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Chargers @ Cardinals

The Charger O  line is not playing nearly as well as it did last year. They are giving up sacks more often than they should. Even all pro tackle McNeil is slacking. LG Goff is not doing the job.

The SD Defense looks sharp in the red zone but not so much in the middle of the field. They totally stopped QB Kurt Warner and the Cardinal O in two 1s vs 1s series in the red zone. They picked Warner off in the endzone and forced a 4th down when the Cards had the ball 1st and goal inside the 10 from a great kick return.

In the middle of the field Warner was able to find receivers wide running open. The Card running game was just OK against the Charger D. They did not have their #1 pick RB Beanie Wells. He is out with ankle problems.

Matt Leinart was the 3rd QB in the game against the Chargers. He came in with only 8:35 left in the game but drove the team from his own goal line to the Charger 11 in 5:32. But on 2nd down and 3 he threw into double coverage incomplete. On 3rd overthrew WR Long in the endzone. On 4th he again threw into tight coverage and turned the ball over on downs. He looked sharp until he got to the red zone then couldn’t convert. In 2 games Leinart has a passer rating around 78. He is fighting journeyman Bryan St. Pierre for the backup spot.

The Card #1 D did a good job but the team just doesn’t have the depth of a top NFL team. Last year they had very few injuries on D. If they sustain some this season, the D will not be good enough to get the Cards back in the playoffs.

Giants at Bears

The Giants were focused on stopping the run with Forte. The Bears were passing more than running and passed the Giants #1 D crazy. The O line of Chicago looks very solid. Future Hall of Fame T Orlando Pace looks healthy for the first time in 3 years. The Giants D could not get to Jay Cutler much. Cutler was 8-13 121 yds 1 TD.

Forte looks very strong. He is finding holes and exploiting them. Given the improved QB and O line, he should be very close to the first teer RBs in fantasy football. Kevin Jones looks good as the #2 RB but is going to have to hold onto the ball better. The only problem the Bears O has is a lack of depth at QB, WR and in the line. Hester is the #1 WR which takes him out of the return game for the most part. The Bears receivers will look better than they are due to Cutler. This team is going to challenge for the NFC title if the key players stay healthy.

The Giants looked like they were in San Jose instead of Soldier Field. They are much better than they looked. The O line was harassed consistently by the Bears D. However, the lack of any NFL quality receivers will haunt this team the entire year. Eli Manning is not going to have as productive a year as he did last year. He just doesn’t have the guys to catch the ball. Look for more INTs and fewer TDs.

There is nothing wrong with the Giants running game. Brandon Jacobs is a beast. He was the only weapon the Giants had that worked against the Bears top D. He tore huge holes in the D line. He is a top teer RB in FF.

The Giants D will come around. It looked shell shocked against Cutler. They will be susceptible to the pass if their pass rush doesn’t produce more pressure than it did against the Bears.

Dolphins v Panthers

Miami: O sharp Pennington is accurate and has the touch that some lack. He has timed up even the new WR like Patrick Turner (3rd round USC) and Hartwell (4th round Ohio State). The running game looks very sharp against a good Carolina D. Brown is running hard inside. Getting Thomas back at guard has helped.

Other than stopping the run of Williams, the Dolphin D did real well. They are putting a lot of pressure on the opponent QBs. The D seems much more aggressive than it was last year. That should help.

Carolina: Delhomme is still inaccurate too often. He misses wide open WRs deep. Then there is Williams.

On the Carolina 2nd possession, he had been held to 1 yard on 4 carries. On 2nd and 8 from the Dolphin 26, he started left and changed direction when he saw the hole was not there. He was then hit in the backfield by 2 Dolphins, spun off it, was hit again by another broke that and scored avoiding two more tackles. That is why he is one of the top backs in Fantasy football.

RAMS vs FALCONS

Turner is an arsonist—he burns up defenses. He has a combination of speed and vision that is very rare. 2nd RB Norwood is also outstanding. He has excellent vision and a second gear that prevents him from getting caught from behind.

Falcon QB Matt Ryan is continuing to develop. He is seeing the field like a vet and has the arm to make all the throws.

The Rams look good and horrible from one play to another. The O line is still very poor. They are going to have to do a much better job protecting QB Bulger if they expect to win many games. They block the same way for a pass as they do for a screen. They touch the D lineman and let them right in.

RB Jackson has his jump step back and looks good. I still don’t recommend drafting him in Fantasy due to problems on the O line and the probability that the Rams will be playing from behind a lot in 09. Ex Falcon WR Robinson looks really improved. He is catching the ball in traffic, and running better routes. Getting open against the Rams isn’t that hard.

Ram tackling is awful. They couldn’t tackle a lamp post because it would be moving too fast. The #1 D gave up 9 yards per play in the first Q. There were a couple of semi-bright spots on D including 2nd round pick James Laurinaitis. He picked off a pass, blitzed effectively and best of all attacked the run down hill.

Cleveland vs. Detroit—See my complete game analysis at

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Fantasy Football,Cardinals,Chargers,Warner,McNeil,Goff,Wells,Leinart,Giants,Bears,Hall of Fame,Pace,Jones,Hester,Manning,Jacobs,Dolphins,Panthers,Pennington,Turner,Hartwell,Brown,Thomas,Williams,Delhomme,Norwood,Ryan,Bulger,Jackson,Robinson,Laurinaitis,Cleveland,Detroit,nfldraftdog
  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 22nd, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on The Saints will come marching into the end zone often.

The Saints will come marching into the end zone often.

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There is no question that the Saints have one of the most dangerous Os in the league. Their win/loss record will depend most on how well they can stop the other team from doing the same thing.

Drew Brees is the #2 QB in most Fantasy Drafts this year for good reason. In the last 3 seasons he has thrown 26, 28 and 34 TDs. The only comment that some QB gurus make is that he is too short at a little under 6 feet to see over the O linemen. Let’s be honest. When you have 5 guys that are between 6-8 and 6-5 in front of you, you have to be 8 feet tall to see over them. Every QB needs to look in between his linemen to find his target. Brees has it all—leadership, arm, accuracy, ability to read coverage, ability to move in the pocket and rush awareness. His backup is Mark Brunell. Mark has to use Grecian Formula 88 to keep his hair brown because Grecian Formula 44 wasn’t strong enough. He is 39 but is a reasonable backup. Joey Harrington joins Brunell on the bench.

The Saints running game is a little up in the air. If you look at all the preseason books, they show Reggie Bush as the starter. He may but his has never in his college or professional career been “the” guy. Even sharing the position with a number of other Saints, he has not been healthy for an entire season over the last 2 years. He is a talent and has speed and elusiveness. But he is not built to handle 25 carries a game for 16 games plus playoffs.

My Fantasy tip of the year—get Pierre Thomas as your 2nd or 3rd RB. He averages 4.8 yards per carry and scored 12 TDs last year (9 rushing). The duo is solid and should make it difficult for defenses trying to defend the pass. The FB is Heath Evans, an excellent blocker and receiver out of the backfield.

The receiver corps is a 3 headed monster. Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore are as good as any 3 in the NFC. Colston was out for 5 games but the O never seemed to slow down. There may be another head added to the group because Robert Meachem is getting better and is a solid threat. The TE are Jeremy Shockey, Billy Miller, and Darnell Dinkins all of whom have been starters. Shockey was a disappoint primarily due to injuries. He still caught 50 balls.

One of the goals on the O line last year was to get bigger and tougher. Ts Jammal Brown and Jon Stinchcomb were the only guys to survive the change. The team added 2 rookie guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans and both were OK. Jonathan Goodwin stepped in at C. The entire group is back with Brown as the best of the line. G/C Jamar Nesbit, T Zach Strief and C Nick Leckey provide veteran depth.

If the O is the good and the D is the bad then the D line is the ugly. Both DEs Charles Grant and Will Smith had injuries last season and have been suspended for the first 4 games for substance violations. Bobby McCray, Paul Spicer and E Anthony Hargrove will battle to start in their place. Spicer and Hargrove were UFA additions and have look very good in camp and in the first preseason game. DTs Sedrick Ellis and Kendrick Clancy were OK. Ellis started as a rookie.

The team traded for MLB Jonathan Vilma and he solidified the middle of the D. It’s a good thing because backup MLB Mark Simoneau was put on the IR with a torn tricep. SLB Scott Fujita and WLB Scott Shanle are projected to start but may be challenged. UFA and former all pro Derick Brooks was signed to bolster the LBs. He provides leadership and is particularly good at pass coverage.

The D backfield last year was a major problem. The team brought in vet CB Jabari Greer and drafted rookie Malcolm Jenkins from Ohio State. They will challenge expected starters Randall Gay and Tracy Porter. UFA FS Darren Sharper brings leadership and joins SS Roman Harper to solidify the last line of defense. The group should be better with the additions. Vet S Pierson Prioleau was signed as a solid backup and former starter Jason David is expected to be the 5th DB or be cut due to his salary.

OVERALL: The Saints are great on O but improving on D. They will challenge the Falcons for the NFC South title. The winner will be whichever D plays the best. Bet on the Falcons with the Saints a possible wild card team.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Fantasy Football,Brown,Brees,Formula 16,Stinchcomb,Bush,Nicks,Grant,Smith,suspension,Spicer,Ellis,Clancy,Vilma,Simoneau,Fujita,Shanle,Greer,Jenikins,Ohio State,Sharper,Gay,Porter,David,Falcons
  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 22nd, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on The pressure is on Delhomme to take the Panthers to the next level.

The pressure is on Delhomme to take the Panthers to the next level.

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It’s hard to find many holes in the Carolina Panthers but there is one Empire State building size question mark—Can Jake Delhomme take the team deep into the playoffs? Delhomme enters his 11th season but he has only 6 seasons starting (not counting his 3 games in 07). He is a slightly above average QB but not the guy that can get a team over the hump to the Super Bowl. In 04 and 05 he threw 53 TDs and only 31 picks. He made the pro bowl and looked like he was about to become a star. That star faided quickly because in 06 he was back to throwing about as many TDs (17) as Ints (11). 07 was a lost year with injuries. Last season was another average season (15TDs and 12 Ints). What was worse, he blew up in the playoff game giving away the hard earned home field advantage and throwing his team right out of the playoffs.

This year will decided if he is the guy or if the team will try to get a starter of the future in what is expected to be one of the all time great QB drafts in 2010. That will be hard without a 1st round pick next year. My projection is that he will not get back to his 04/05 level and will be replaced. The team has Matt McCown who has started but doesn’t scare anyone.

The RB combination of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart is excellent. Williams is under rated and is a good bet for Fantasy football this year. He very quietly had 1,500 yards with an astounding 18 TDs and 5.5 yard average. WOW! One reason was he got some relief from rookie Stewart who ran for over 800 yards. This combination needs Delhomme to be more consistent so that the opponents don’t load the D line against the run. The team added rookie Mike Goodson in the 3rd round. FB Brad Hoover is a solid blocker and can catch and run as well.

Delhomme’s problems are not due to a bad group of WRs. Steve Smith not only can land a punch (for which he was suspended for the first 2 games in 08) but passes like few others. He averaged 100 yards per game and went to the pro bowl again. It seems like Smith had been doing that since 1950 but he is only 30. His running mate is Muhsin Muhammad. He was the #1 WR in Chicago before coming to be Smith’s wing man. At 36 he has lost a little speed but still has the hands and runs sharp routes. Dwayne Jarrett is a solid #3 WR and the team has a few candidates for the 4th guy.

TE is a question mark as well. Jeff King starts because he is a very good blocker and reliable receiver. Gary Barnidge and Dante Rosario who is coming off injury will try to unseat King again.

The O line is one of the great strengths of the team. LT Jordan Gross is consistently playing at a pro bowl level. C Ryan Kalil and RT Jeff Otah are both very young but growing into stars. LG Travelle Wharton is a little over rated but consistent. RG Keydrick Vincent is starting quality but still has upside. The depth was hurt by losing players to free agency due to salary cap concerns.

The D line took a huge hit when DT Maake Kemoeatu was injured and put on IR. He will be missed from a D that had trouble last year stopping the run and getting off the field verses top teams. Franchised E Julius Peppers will have to be most of the pass rush again. The team brought UFA Tyler Brayton in last year but he is over rated. RDT Damione Lewis is OK nothing more. The team traded their 2010 #1 pick to move up to get DE Everette Brown. So far, Brown has not dazzled anyone. The team also has Charles Johnson and Hilee Taylor both of whom can rush the passer.

The linebackers are WLB Thomas Davis, MLB Jon Beason and the always challenged SLB Na’il Diggs. The team has been trying to replace Diggs for several years but finally realized he is fine. Beason has developed into a very good pass defender and can blitz effectively. He made the pro bowl in his 2nd season. The depth consists of MLB Dan Connor and WLB Landon Johnson. Both are good and would start on a lot of teams.

LCB Chris Gamble, RCB Richard Marshall, FS Charles Godfrey and SS Chris Harris start for the Panthers in the D backfield. Gamble says he is a top corner. So far he has been good to very good. Marshall replaces CB Lewis and is a bit of a concern. He has been with the team for 3 seasons and has talent. The safeties are fine but not extra special. CBs Sherrod Martin and C.J. Wilson back up the corners. Reserve Nate Salley at safety really came on last year but was hurt.

OVERALL: The Panthers are as good as any team in the NFC with the exception of QB. That will hold them back again this year and even with a very good record in the regular season, they will be bounced out of the playoffs by Delhomme.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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