Blog Entry

Cats should take biggest gamble: Pass on Newton

Posted on: April 25, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 12:31 pm
Posted by Will Brinson

No less than 48 hours ago, I told a relative at Easter that I had "fully talked myself into the Panthers taking Cam Newton." That's a by-product of several things, including: a) the franchise's need for a "face" that people care about, b) the unparalleled upside that Newton represents, c) the lack of any decent quarterback on the roster and d) the need to sell tickets and get fans re-invested.

When I woke up on Monday though, I felt entirely differently, and now I'm pretty sure that the Panthers absolutely need to pass on Newton, acquire as many decent assets as they can, and focus on getting Andrew Luck in 2011. (Quite conveniently, Clark Judge is hearing they'll do just that.)

That's not saying they should "tank" -- and, disclaimer time: I'm actually a Panthers fan, so that would be kind of miserable for me. They shouldn't. No one should tank in the NFL because, unlike the NBA or MLB, things can change quickly, and teams can become successful overnight.

But have you seen Carolina's schedule? It's nuts. There are -- at most -- five winnable games on the slate in 2011, and it wouldn't matter who they had quarterbacking, as long as that person is either a rookie or a second-year Jimmy Clausen, because it's going to be a struggle.
Panthers' Problems

Obviously the Panthers get the Falcons, the Saints and the Buccaneers twice in 2011, and only an insane optimist could expect more than two wins against those three times total. Two, which is dangerously hopeful, would include a win against the Bucs at home and either a random upset of Atlanta or New Orleans, or a late-season win where one of those teams doesn't trot out their full "A-team" because their seeding decision has been settled.

Look at the rest of the schedule, and the even the most bullish fan would find a hard time arguing that, with Cam Newton and/or Jimmy Clausen at the helm, the Panthers will win five games. I mean, where are the wins? Against the Cardinals, in Arizona, during the opening week of the season? Maybe.

Week 2 against the Packers can already be ruled out, as can Week 12 against the Colts in Indy and the Week 15 matchup against the Texans in Houston; all of those teams have too much offense for the Panthers to compete. So let's say they lose those three games and go 1-5 in the division.

That leaves a home matchup against Jacksonville in Week 3, a trip to Chicago in Week 4, a home matchup against the Redskins in Week 7 followed by the Vikings coming to town in Week 8, a Week 10, post-bye matchup against the Titans in Charlotte and a trip to Detroit in Week 11. Winning three of those games, based on the success that the 2010 team had, would be considered a tremendous success. That's a 4-12 record for the season, a miserable year, and a learning experience with regard to whether Jimmy Clausen can be the future of the franchise (my answer is no, but Marty Hurney apparently still wants to find out).
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It's also probably good enough to land them the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, which will net them Andrew Luck of Stanford, unless he decides he really loves graduate school.

And yes, I understand that this is a game of chicken that no NFL front office can reasonably play; it predicates itself on thinking that your team will be awful, and that's not a mindset you see in the NFL. But the schedule is what the schedule is, and then there's this: everyone in this draft is pulling trigger on a quarterback.

Most folks believe that there's a chance six -- SIX! -- quarterbacks could be gone as early as the first round. If six of the 10 (or so) teams that are truly desperate for quarterback help take a first-rounder, there's a pretty good chance that they won't even be looking for Luck come next year, significantly improving the Panthers chance that they would wind up with the most coveted option in the 2011 draft, even if they didn't finish with the worst record. (For instance, if the Bills draft Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton third overall and finish 2-14, are they taking Luck? They can't.

And that should be the scariest fact for Hurney and new coach Ron Rivera when they start looking at their options for the coming season: even if they do take Newton, they could finish with the worst record in the NFL (in fact, one could argue drafting Newton improves their chances ...) and be faced with a decision on having to draft their third straight franchise quarterback. That's something that isn't even considered an option. Even if Luck was there, Carolina would have to think defense, which would be a shame.

Look, landing Luck vis-a-vis the No. 1 overall pick next year is far from a guarantee. But the odds of it happening for Carolina are at least as good, if not better, than hitting a home run with Cam Newton.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: April 25, 2011 2:54 pm

Cats should take biggest gamble: Pass on Newton

Yes, draft Newton so he can spend his first year being tutored by, um, Jimmy Clausen. That alone will be worth the price of admission. I already feel like laughing whenever I see Clausen stride onto the field and get under center. I'd tivo every Panthers game if I had the added bonus of watching Clausen skip a ball five feet in front of a receiver, launch a terrible deep pass ten yards past anyone, throw an INT on a busted route, and then go back to the bench and look at teach Cam Newton. Maybe they can even download the game shots to Cam's stolen laptop. Please, Carolina, draft Newton.

Since: Dec 4, 2010
Posted on: April 25, 2011 2:30 pm

Cats should take biggest gamble: Pass on Newton

All you need to do is ask yourself one question about the first three teams in this year's draft.....will they be that much better (on the field) if they pick ANY QB in the first round?  Carolina got to the Super Bowl with Jake Del Homme!!!  Tom Brady?  A sixth round pick.  Brad Johnson? I forget.  A "smiling face" for the franchise does not put folks in the seats.  Winning  does............DEFENSE!!!

Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:44 pm

Cats should take biggest gamble: Pass on Newton

It's not tanking if your team stinks. 
And it sure looks like the Panthers will stink. (Also, you're not biased for Newton are you by any chance?)

-- Brinson

Since: Apr 28, 2008
Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:44 pm

Cats should take biggest gamble: Pass on Newton

buxton: The premise is actually pretty clear. The writer is not an idiot just because your comprehension skills are so weak. He's saying they are going to lose anyway. Therefore, they should try to shore up a different position, then draft a much more reliable-to-succeed QB next season since they are sure to finish near the bottom, even if they don't tank. In fact, he said it about 4 different ways. He illuminated his premise by carefully going through the entire schedule to say that there weren't many winnable games - and he repeatedly added the caveat 'even with Newton, they won't win those games (paraphrased)' Even if Newton turns out good - and he again places the caveat that there remains a realistic chance that he won't succeed in the pros - he may be so damaged by the horrific rookie season he would endure as to be ruined anyway. Look, you're an Auburn fan and probably think he is hating on Newton. That's not it. Brinson would probably love to see Newton succeed. He's just saying that its a lose-lose situation, so they should think differently.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:26 pm

Cats should take biggest gamble: Pass on Newton

Send this suggestion to the Cardinals. They really, really, need to just tank this year. I'd be quite happy with a 2-14 season. It would mean Andrew Luck as my quarterback and someone other than Ken Whisenhunt as coach.

Since: Jul 28, 2010
Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:16 pm

Cats should take biggest gamble: Pass on Newton

Will Brinson is officially an idiot... how can you " focus on getting Andrew Luck in 2011" without tanking? it's obvious that he is going to go #1 overall, so the only way to get that pick is to have the worst record in the league. Nice reporting Brinson.

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