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Tag:Charles Johnson
Posted on: October 5, 2011 11:17 am
Edited on: October 6, 2011 4:59 pm
 

Film Room: Panthers vs. Saints preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



The Saints are 3-1 but it’s the 1-3 Panthers creating most of the chatter. Or, Cam Newton creating the chatter. Through a quarter of his rookie season, the No. 1 overall pick is, in a word, sensational. But obviously not perfect. The Panthers are still dwelling in the basement of the NFC South.

Here’s a comprehensive look at Newton and his club as they head into their first divisional showdown of the season.



1. How good is he, really?
Through four games, Newton has far exceeded all expectations. Remarkably, this includes expectations about his physical talents. We knew the 6’5”, 245-pound Auburn Tiger was an athletic monster, but rarely are quarterbacks still athletic monsters once they reach the NFL. Newton has been a productive runner, both with power and speed.

He’s a poor man’s Vick when it comes to eluding tacklers and a poor man’s Roethlisberger when it comes to shedding them. That’s a rich combination considering no other quarterback truly exhibits any of these traits (save for maybe Josh Freeman shedding defenders).

Most impressive, however, is that Newton has not leaned on his athleticism. Operating almost exclusively out of shotguns, he’s been a willing and poised statuesque passer who willingly works through his progressions from the pocket. His decisions are usually capped off by a bullet either downfield, outside the numbers (he has the uncanny arm strength to stretch the field both horizontally and vertically) or, if need be, underneath.

For the most part, Newton’s decisions have been good. He has faced an aggressive blitzing defense in Arizona, a classic 3-4 press defense in Green Bay (playing without Tramon Williams, the Packers kept Charles Woodson outside and blitzed far less often than usual that game) and, most recently, a classic Cover 2 defense in Chicago. He posted a legit 370-plus yards passing against all three of them.

The proof that it’s not all daisies and roses is that Newton also threw crucial interceptions in all three games and came away with a loss. He’s still a rookie and still prone to the occasional blunder. The blunders have been far less frequent than anyone expected, but they’ve been costly nevertheless.

2. Panthers dual tight ends
We assumed that with tight ends Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen, Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski would craft a dink-and-dunk, run-first system. Indeed, the Panthers have kept two tight ends on the field a majority of the time, but often, at least one of them (usually Olsen) has split out, serving essentially as a No. 3 receiver.

This poses serious personnel issues for defenses. Leave your base three-linebacker unit on the field and risk getting burned through the air (Shockey and Olsen have been superb downfield route runners the first four weeks). Use your nickel personnel and you risk getting run on by a team that always has a top-10 running back on the field.

The Saints are one of the few defenses that have an answer for this: strong safety Roman Harper. He is their second best run defender (behind Jonathan Vilma) and a demon in the box. He’s versatile enough to play press man coverage (he’s not particularly good at it, but Gregg Williams feels comfortable using him sporadically in this capacity) or blitz (3.5 sacks on the season).
 
Expect the Panthers in Week 5 to continue to be pass-first with their tight ends. And expect the Saints to not simply react to this, but rather, to attack by changing up what they do with Harper throughout the game in order to get Newton thinking.

3. Running Impact
Newton is the first quarterback since Vick to pose a veritable threat as a runner (Vince Young can’t be counted as a running threat quarterback because he was such a limited passer that defenses could get away with putting nine in the box against him; not a chance that happens against Newton). Having a running threat under center does wonders for your rushing attack.

The Panthers have all the resources to pound teams on the ground – DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are an excellent duo, center Ryan Kalil can lock defenders at both the first and second level, left tackle Jordan Gross is a Pro Bowler and right tackle Jeff Otah flashed his old power against Chicago last week. But for whatever reason, Chudzinski has not gone in that direction. Carolina is averaging 25.5 rushing attempts per game, tied for 18th in the NFL.

Chudzinski would be wise to change this. The threat that Newton poses really opens things up. We saw this on the third play of the game against Chicago last week:


4. What Newton will see from Saints D
The Saints have one of the most aggressive defenses in football – both in terms of execution and presnap disguise. That has a lot to do with the trust Gregg Williams has in his secondary. Jabari Greer is one of the best ball-man corners in the game. Patrick Robinson had a rough Week 1 at Green Bay but has come on the last few outings (he was phenomenal at Jacksonville).

Playmaker Tracy Porter was eased back into action last week – he missed two games with a calf injury – and should see more snaps Sunday. When you factor in free safety Malcom Jenkins’ range, the Saints clearly have the resources to handle a Panthers’ wide receiving corps that is underwhelming outside of Steve Smith.

Dealing with the tight ends might be an issue, but Roman Harper’s versatility could cause Newton to question that matchup at times. How will Newton react when he sees Harper leave Olsen or Shockey and blitz? The simple answer would be, “He’ll throw to Olsen or Shockey”. But if you and I can predict this, so can Gregg Williams.

The Saints are one of the best green dog blitzing defenses in the league. (A green dog blitz is when a linebacker has a running back man-to-man, sees that the running back is staying in to pass protect and so he goes after the quarterback in response.) These blitzes can be hard to recognize because they come unexpectedly and late in the action.
 
When blitzing is not involved, Carolina’s offensive line can contain a Saints pass-rush that has been hit-or-miss early this season (the return of end Will Smith certainly helps). Thus, expect Gregg Williams to go after Newton and get him guessing before the snap. Many of Williams’ blitzes come out of nickel personnel packages. The Saints used their nickel later in the game against the Texans to counter the receiving impact of Houston’s two tight ends (Owen Daniels and James Casey). Don’t be surprised if they refer to their nickel early against the Panthers’ two-tight end offense.

5. The other side of the ball
The Saints have remade their offense this season. It now runs through Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham. Sproles has been better for the Saints than Reggie Bush ever was (much better, in fact). That could be in part because Sproles doesn’t yet draw the attention that Bush drew. But more than anything, it’s because he has lightning quick feet and an understanding for how to create and exploit spacing in both the run and pass game.

Graham is the dynamic athlete we all knew he’d be after his 2010 debut. It just so happens that the ex-power forward is developing much quicker than expected. He’s a mismatch for any linebacker, has the size to out-position defensive backs and has better hands than Robert Meachem (who is now the fourth option in this pass offense, behind Sproles, Graham and, when healthy, Marques Colston).

Panthers strong safety Charles Godfrey has been stellar in coverage this season and can compete with Graham, but the Panther linebackers (who are really missing Jon Beason) will have trouble with Sproles. Carolina’s best hope is to get pressure on Brees early in the down.

Defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy are capable of embarrassing New Orleans’ athletic but grossly unreliable tackles Jermon Bushrod and Charles Brown. But Brees knows this and is also capable of adjusting.

So who will win? Check our Week 5 NFL expert picks for all the games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 9, 2011 11:40 pm
 

Charles Godfrey gets five-year, $27.5M extension

Posted by Will Brinson

The Carolina Panthers continued their offseason spending spree on Friday, giving strong safety Charles Godfrey a five-year, $27.5 million extension that includes $12.4 million in guaranteed money.

That's according to our Panthers Rapid Reporter Steve Reed, who also earlier reported that Godfrey was named one of the team's captains for 2011, along with tackle Jordan Gross, wide receiver Steve Smith, linebacker Jon Beason, punter Jason Baker and linebacker Thomas Davis.

“He’s on top of the world and he’s thrilled because this is what he wanted," Godfrey's agent Doug Hendrickson told Reed. "He really loves the new defense and the staff and everything about the organization. They stepped up big time."

He should be. Godfrey's one of several Panthers -- including Beason, Davis, defensive end Charles Johnson, running back DeAngelo Williams and linebacker James Anderson -- to pick up a big-time financial commitment from Carolina this offseason.

In 43 starts since being drafted in the third round of 2008, Godfrey's racked up 157 tackles, seven interceptions (including five in 2010) and six forced fumbles.

And though some folks might wonder why a 2-14 team would be slinging around so much cash for a group of players that didn't produce all that much in 2010, aside from Williams, the Panthers have made their significant investments into a defense that was much better than the team's record would indicate.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 2:43 pm
 

DeAngelo agrees to $43M deal with Panthers

Posted by Will Brinson

If you thought the Carolina Panthers might sit on their laurels in free agency, well, whoops: less than a day after dropping a $76 million beast of a deal on defensive end Charles Johnson, the Panthers have reportedly signed running back DeAngelo Williams to a five-year, $43-million deal that features $21 million in guaranteed money.

"DeAngelo Williams is back #doubletrouble" Jonathan Stewart, Williams' backfield partner, tweeted shortly after Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network first reported the deal.

Williams, like Johnson, became an unrestricted free agent following the implementation of the new CBA rules and cashed in big-time with his hometown team on Wednesday.

Reports also indicate that the Denver Broncos and Williams' former coach John Fox were in heavy pursuit of the running back, but much like Johnson, it appears the Panthers were willing to pony up and keep him in-town.

The Panthers have also since signed kicker Olindo Mare to a four-year, $12 million deal and signed tight end Ben Hartsock. Yes, it's safe to say they're being a tad active this offseason.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 5:57 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 6:59 pm
 

Panthers, DE Johnson agree to $76M deal

Posted by Will Brinson

The Panthers are the surprising first big movers of the 2011 offseason, as they have dropped an absolute bombshell of a $76-million contract on free-agent defensive end Charles Johnson.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk first reported the news that Johnson's contract with the Panthers (which, again, is for $76 million) includes a $30 million signing bonus and $32 million in guaranteed money.

According to Steve Reed of the Gaston Gazette, multiple members of the Panthers coaching staff and front office, including GM Marty Hurney and head coach Ron Rivera, traveled to Miami to convince Johnson to sign with Carolina.

"I'm so excited," Johnson said. "I'm ready to get back to football."

Johnson, who broke out in a big way last season with 11.5 sacks, was listed as CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco's No. 2-overall free agent in this year's class and considered the Panthers' top priority this offseason. He was also considered a prime target for the division-rival Falcons, and his family wanted him to sign with Atlanta but, per Reed, he was "blown away" by Carolina's offer.

"Could you have turned it down?" Johnson said.

The initial reaction to that question is clearly "no" and the response to the deal is probably "WHAT?" -- but it's actually not that insane. No, seriously, hear me out.

See, the Panthers defensive line is flat-out terrible. They also play six of their 16 annual games against Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman. None of those guys are going anywhere anytime soon and if the Panthers wanted a chance in the division, re-upping the one guy on the roster who can pressure the quarterback was essential.

Additionally, the money is a big old chunk of change but consider that last year, the Bears paid a 31-year-old Julius Peppers more than $90 million over the life of a six-year deal.

Johnson, by the time he finishes up his deal, will be that same age. And though he might not equate to "Peppers in his prime," the money spent on Johnson will be well worth it if he can come close to his production in 2010 over the course of the deal.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 6, 2011 1:37 am
Edited on: July 6, 2011 12:00 pm
 

7 questions to ask for the labor home stretch

Posted by Will Brinson

Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- is ready for the NFL to start back up. (Otherwise, we might end up with Brett Favre putting his name back in the active player pool. And that's no good for anyone.)

And while it might be a simple process for the NFL and NFLPA to suck it up, find some common ground and make a deal happen ASAP, there's still a whole pile of issues to handle before we get the season ready to roll.

So, as we head into the hypothetical home stretch of the labor strife that's plagued NFL fans all summer, let's hit up our trusty seven-question format to figure out what it is we need to know in the next 10 days.

1. I just woke up from the Fourth of July ... are these guys close to a deal at all?
Surprisingly, yes, it sure does seem like the NFL and NFLPA are getting somewhere when it comes to negotiating.

At some point, both sides must have seen the balance sheets for what they stand to lose -- $800 million in revenue just from the preseason, not counting salaries! -- by continuing to be stubborn and decided that playing football was in everyone's interests.

Also, it's important to remember that DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell didn't exactly know each other well before this whole labor strife went down, and they've been, for all intents and purposes, feeling each other out as things went along.

It's infinitely easier to negotiate with someone you've negotiated with a bunch of times in the past, and trying to strike a deal with someone in a supercharged environment doesn't make things any easier.

Plus, if there's not a deadline for making a deal, you don't see people budge off their stances in negotiations. That's not something that's new to the NFL labor talks.
NFL Labor

2. What are the sticking points now?
The same as they've always been. Revenue sharing tops the list, but it's believed the sides are closer than they've ever been on that issue.

The 18-game schedule's been tabled for the time being.

The owners "agreed" on revenue sharing.

Everyone wants something to happen where Al Davis isn't capable of giving JaMarcus Russell $60 million guaranteed ever again. (Or, at least right out of the draft.)

And everyone agrees that the retired players need better benefits. Although, those guys did just sue everyone, and no one's entirely sure how to get them paid, so that could be a problem. But still, it's something that can be sorted out in a quick fashion when people want to make a deal happen.

Just like the rest of the issues.

3. Is there an actual deadline for the NFL and NFLPA to reach an agreement?

Not technically, no, although July 15th has long been considered the "soft deadline" for making something happen. But a deal could be struck any time between Wednesday, July 6, and September 1 and we could still get a full season football.

The problem is that all teams -- even ones like the Packers -- need some kind of training camp and preparation for the season. That might mean that preseason games become more meaningful, but that's not all bad.

Once we move past July 15, there's no longer a convenient window for both free agency and training camps leading up to a full preseason, and things start to get a little hairer.

One of the more interesting aspects to watch about this soft deadline is whether or not an actual deal has to be in place. The rumors coming from the league are that the lockout can't be lifted until all the legal papers are signed/sealed/delivered, but if there's a firm "handshake agreement" in place by next Friday, it would be pretty surprising to see the two sides haggle over some signatures.

4. Are the lawyers really trying to screw the talks up?
You know what my dad always likes to point out to me? That the difference between a dead lawyer in the road and a dead squirrel in the road are the tire marks in front of the squirrel.

And my dad's a lawyer.

Jeff Kessler and Jim Quinn have $10-plus billion reasons to consider trying to keep the two sides in court for the duration of the season. (A favorable verdict for the players would generate a big, old trough full of money, of which they'd get to amply slurp at.)

Which is why it's good news that the team of attorneys for the players are supposedly reworking their contract (and/or that De Smith listened to my man Mike Freeman's advice) -- if Quinn and Kessler are off of the contingency-fee deal, there's much less motivation for them to stay in court for a lengthy amount of time.

5. Wait, what about that whole "the players sued the owners and everyone's fighting in court" thing?
The rulings at the District Court in Minnesota and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals are the gigantic elephant and gorilla, respectively, that you see in the back of the metaphorical room.

As of now, both the television ruling from Judge David Doty at the District Court level (leveraging how much in damages the players are owed) and the ruling on the permanency of the lockout (leveraging how long the owners can keep the players away from work) are in a holding pattern.

This is because the two sides have continually made progress on a deal that could get done without the court having to rule either way on either issue.

If the two courts do rule, though, things are going to get ugly, because suddenly all the angry feelings the two sides have temporarily put aside are going to start rearing up again.

6. Enough lawyer stuff -- when does my team get to sign free agents?
This is probably the trickiest question of all, because it's going to depend on the lockout being lifted first, natch.

But let's say that a deal does happen by July 15 and the lockout's lifted -- then we're probably facing a 48-hour (or thereabouts) window with which teams have to wait to sign free agents.

It's possible, based on some reports, that teams -- like the Carolina Panthers -- with a lot of restricted free agents (RFAs) will help muscle some sort of right of first refusal deal into the new CBA.

That scenario would give teams like the Panthers a chance to ink their big-name players -- in this case DeAngelo Williams and Charles Johnson -- that they didn't expect to become free agents.

But it's highly unlikely that the players cave on that issue, if only because the owners choose to opt out of the CBA themselves, thereby setting up a scenario in which the market became flooded with an unexpected amount of high-quality players.

7. So what are the chances a deal actually happens by July 15?
I'm going with the same answer I gave three months ago (before the lockout!): 75 percent. That doesn't make me a soothsayer, and it might actually make me wrong for the time being, but there really is too much to lose for both sides not to make something happen.

Don't get me wrong -- there is PLENTY that can cause these talks to explode and send both sides scurrying away from the negotiating table, back into the court room and as far away from the football field as you can get.

We could lose the preseason. And we could still lose the regular season.

But right now, both the owners and the players know there's a 10-day-ish window in which they can hammer out a deal, get the season started on time, make all the money they would have made anyway, and get right back in the good graces of football fans everywhere.

And the difference between now and the beginning of March isn't just a calendar date -- this time around, both sides appear ready to work with each other to make a deal happen and get football back on track.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.


Posted on: February 24, 2011 10:05 am
Edited on: February 24, 2011 1:11 pm
 

Report: Panthers to RFA tag DeAngelo, DE Johnson

Posted by Will Brinson

The Panthers already utilized their franchise tag, placing it on center Ryan Kalil. Such placement led many folks to believe that running back DeAngelo Williams and defensive end Charles Johnson were going to get their sayonara on.

That might not quite be the case just yet -- Darin Gantt of of the Rock Hill Herald reports that the Panthers will place RFA tenders on both Williams and Johnson.

Yes, this is kind of awkward and complicated and yes, it's perfect that it's being done by the team Jerry Richardson owns.

See, under the current CBA, Williams and Johnson -- both of whom have four years of service with Carolina -- would be unrestricted free agents. But without a new CBA in place, these guys will be the "new" Vincent Jackson or Logan Mankins -- to name some high-profile guys who were RFA'd last year; Richard Marshall and Thomas Davis of the Panthers also apply from 2010.

Gantt phrases it best by saying that the tenders "are a way to squat on the rights of a player" until the labor negotiations shake themselves out.

The Panthers aren't going to make the players particularly happy, but they'll also keep from losing the substantial core of their team, at least for now.

That could obviously change if a new CBA is established and Williams/Johnson become unrestricted free agents. But provided the Panthers make use of this tactic, they're at least -- for now -- restricting the potentially imminent departure of some key players.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: February 22, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 3:21 pm
 

Updated: Panthers tag Kalil; Williams to be a UFA

Posted by Andy Benoit

UPDATE 3:00 p.m. EST: GM Marty Hurney says the Panthers will use their franchise tag on C Ryan Kalil. Kalil is guaranteed at least $10 million in 2011. RB DeAngelo Williams and DE Charles Johnson will be free agents.

----------

DeAngelo Williams could be on his way out of Carolina. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Panthers will NOT use their franchise tag on the 27-year-old running back. Thus, WilD. Williams (US Presswire)liams will become an unrestricted free agent (once a new CBA is in place).

Carolina’s decision, ostensibly, is less about Williams and more about the people around him. The Panthers could use their franchise tag on either center Ryan Kalil or defensive end Charles Johnson. Kalil, 25, is coming off a second straight Pro Bowl appearance. Johnson, 24, had a breakout 2010 campaign, leading the team with 11.5 sacks.

From a financial standpoint, tagging Kalil would make the most sense. If the Panthers were not willing to pay the $1 million-plus per game that a Julius Peppers tag would have cost a year ago, it wouldn’t make sense to write that kind of check for the less talented Johnson. The deadline for applying the franchise tag is Wednesday, February 23.

Even without Kalil or Johnson to consider, it’s possible the Panthers would not have tagged Williams anyway. Backup Jonathan Stewart is actually the more gifted runner of the two. Stewart is thought of as a power guy, but in actuality, his best attributes are his lateral agility and change-of-tempo speed.

What’s more, injuries limited Williams to just six games in ’10. During his time away, the Panthers discovered that little-known Mike Goodson, a fourth-round pick in ’09, is capable of handling third down duties (if not more).

At his best, Williams is one of the most dynamic runners in the NFL. The Panthers may not desperately need him, but plenty of other teams will decide they do.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: February 3, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2011 2:02 pm
 

Panthers to franchise RB Williams, extend Beason?

Posted by Will Brinson

The Carolina Panthers have a pile of free agents that they need to take care of going into 2011, and DeAngelo Williams is one of the biggest names on their list to handle.

According to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Steve Reed, the Panthers are planning to franchise Williams beginning in the 14-day window that begins on February 10th.

Reed estimates that Williams will make $9.8 million in 2011, which is pricey, but certainly more palatable for the Panthers than awarding Williams a huge contract just a few months after he was unable to play 16 full games in a time-share backfield.

His injuries are particularly concerning in the long-term because of the relatively low mileage he's accumulated since being drafted in the first round by Carolina.

Williams served as a backup to DeShaun Foster (yes, that seems really weird to type now) in 2006 and 2007 (he started two games and only carried the ball 265 times in those two years) before busting out for 1,515 yards on 5.5 yards per carry in 2008.

In the remaining two years, Williams has only played in 19 games and has seen his yards per carry average dip down to 5.2 in 2009 and 4.1 in 2010.

In other words, Carolina would probably like to see Williams return to full health before considering any sort of bigger contract.

They're reportedly focusing their contract negotiation concerns on star linebacker Jon Beason, DE Charles Johnson, center Ryan Khalil and linebacker Thomas Davis. Inking those four -- although it won't happen until after a new CBA -- would immediately bring some stability back to a defense that was underrated in 2010, particularly if Carolina can add a young playmaker at the top of the draft.

The looming problem at quarterback is just that, but that the Panther are at least indicating what key players they want to re-sign is good news for their fans.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com