Tag:Carolina Panthers
Posted on: December 18, 2011 2:20 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 2:37 pm
 

VIDEO: Panthers score on a fumblerooski

By Will Brinson

If you think Panthers coordinator Rob Chudzinski isn't creative, think again -- he busted out a fumblerooski play against the Texans in the red zone, with the Panthers already up 14-0.

It's a pretty aggressive play considering that the Panthers have three guys with over 500 rushing yards on the season and Cam Newton is a beast in the red zone.

But that's precisely why this play worked -- the defense flooded towards Newton when he faked a run to the right, only to have Richie Brockel rumble in on the left side.




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Posted on: December 15, 2011 10:08 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 1:28 am
 

USC OL Matt Kalil to enter NFL Draft, sign agent

By Will Brinson

We've seen a recent surge of top prospects entering the 2012 NFL Draft (the top wideout, Justin Blackmon, and top quarterback, Andrew Luck, on Rob Rang's big board are already in) and now top offensive line prospect Matt Kalil will leave USC and enter the draft.

Kalil, the third-best prospect according to NFL Draft Scout, will leave the Trojans program and make the leap into tue NFL.

"It was definitely a tough decision because I love SC," Kalil told the LA Times. "But itís a special opportunity. Itís time to move on."

Kalil's brother, Ryan Kalil, currently plays center for the Carolina Panthers, and there's been talk of joining the brothers in a tandem on the line there.

Of course, the younger Kalil would need to fall to the Panthers first, and in Rang's latest mock draft that didn't happen. Rang has Kalil going to the Vikings (currently slated to have the third pick).

It's also possible the Rams could consider Kalil with their pick (currently No. 2), depending on how they grade Justin Blackmon and/or if no teams are willing to trade up to a higher spot.

2012 NFL Draft

Ultimately, Kalil will probably end up being a top-five pick.

Premiere offensive lineman come at a high cost for teams looking to shore up their offensive lines, and even though we've seen the value of quarterbacks in the first round spike significantly over the past year or so (thanks, ridiculous 2011 NFL Draft class!), the value of a left tackle who can step in and perform well from day one can't be overstated.

Kalil's decision could also influence quarterback Matt Barkley. Barkley hasn't made a decision about the draft yet, but losing the guy who protects his blind side (coupled with a high draft rating) could potentially push him closer to making a decision and turning pro.

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Posted on: December 15, 2011 6:16 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 10:43 pm
 

Steve Smith: 'You can't compare Cam to Tebow'

By Will Brinson

For whatever reason, people want to justify "Tim Tebow > X Quarterback" these days. Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers is not one of those people.

Smith was asked about Tebow's performance, presumably how it relates to Cam's this season, and doesn't think the two compare.

"You can't compare Cam to Tebow. I think Cam's a more complete player," Smith said, per Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. “Tebow has the wins. But everybody wants to crown Tebow. Yes, he has the will to win. I think Tebow is no different than any other professional. But Tebow has a great opportunity to play behind a great defense."

Cam does not have the same opportunity: though the Broncos don't rank that much better than the Panthers in total defense, the Panthers give up nearly a half a yard more per rush and have 26 sacks on the season to Denver's 37.

Additionally, Tebow's asked to do much less on offense than Newton and, really, just isn't as talented.

Tebow Saturation

"Versatile would mean you can throw the ball very accurately, run the ball, create things. And the only thing he's creating is running," Smith said. "He isn't very accurate. You watch him, I don't think 3-for-10 (after) three quarters is a versatile quarterback."

Smith meant 3 of 16, but it doesn't really matter. Newton, who's got a shot at setting the NFL rookie record for passing yards this week also already holds the NFL record for rushing touchdowns in a season by any quarterback.

He's simply better than Tebow and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to have their head checked. Of course, the problem is, there's really no need to even invoke the comparison.

But Tebow's the hot topic (rightfully so), and if you have a pulse and are remotely related to the NFL (player, coach, media, fan, whatever), you're probably getting asked about the Broncos quarterback.
 
That doesn't necessitate ridiculous comparisons to other NFL quarterbacks though. And Tebow would probably agree.

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:09 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:52 pm
 

Report: More tests expected for Mike Smith

Head coach Mike Smith is expected to undergo further testing after the team’s game Thursday night. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

UPDATE: Thursday, December 15, 1:45 p.m. ET -- The Falcons deny that Smith continues to experience chest pains. Falcons V.P. of Football Communications Reggie Roberts told the Atlanta Journal Constitution D. Orlando Ledbetter that Smith  “feels fine,” adding that  “He spent the week preparing his team for the nationally televised game against Jacksonville.  Smith had a previously scheduled appointment.  It was made after he left the hospital in Charlotte.” 

Following the Falcons' 31-23 victory over the Panthers Sunday, head coach Mike Smith was rushed to a Charlotte-area hospital with chest pains while the team boarded their charter plane back to Atlanta. The Falcons indicated later Sunday evening that the incident was a "non-emergency" and "reaffirmed his health," adding that he was "resting comfortably."

On Wednesday, sources told TSX’s Len Pasquarelli that Smith has continued to experience chest-related discomfort and is expected to undergo further testing after the team’s game Thursday night.

The Falcons host the Jaguars Thursday in a matchup that has playoff implications for Atlanta. Entering Week 15, they're the No. 5 seed in the NFC. At 8-5, they share the same record with the Lions (No. 6 seed), and have a one-game lead over the Bears (No. 7) and Cowboys (No. 8).

After this week's game with the Jaguars, Atlanta travels to New Orleans in Week 16 before wrapping up the regular season at home against Tampa Bay.

Hopefully, Smith, who is just 52, will be on the sidelines, completely healthy, to coach his team. 

Earlier Wednesday, Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips announced that he was taking a medical leave to undergo surgery for a kidney condition. 

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 6:15 pm
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 15's finer points

Palmer and Netwon face stiff tests this week. Suggs, meanwhile, has been a beast in 2011. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Lions vs. Raiders

A few weeks ago, Carson Palmer was throwing interceptions but still playing great football for his new team. Lately, Palmer has just been throwing interceptions. What’s changed?

For one, Oakland’s pass protection. It has been shaky the last two games, particularly when it comes to sorting out blitz pickups. Also, general protection on the right outside has been an issue. Even when the Raiders go with a six-man line – which they do frequently – Palmer knows that Khalif Barnes and Stephon Heyer don’t consistently move their feet well. Consequently, Palmer has started to anticipate, and even perceive, pressure. This makes him jittery in the pocket.

What’s interesting is that one of Palmer’s brightest shining traits earlier this season was how firm he was in the pocket even when there was pressure closing in on him. You’d think that the time away from football would have made Palmer more frenetic in the pocket, and that he’d settle down after getting more games under his belt. Instead, the opposite’s been true.


A lot of Palmer’s interceptions have come when he’s trying to force a play. He’s made some careless decisions outside the pocket and on third-and-long situations. That may partly be a function of not knowing his own personnel (no other quarterbacks have found Darrius Heyward-Bey as trustworthy as Palmer has).

Things won’t get easier this week. The Lions picked off Christian Ponder three times last Sunday and, with Ndamukong Suh back, have a pass-rush that Palmer can legitimately worry about.

Panthers vs. Texans

Cam Newton is facing his most difficult test yet. The sensational rookie has gone up against some good cover corners (Charles Woodson, who played exclusively outside against the Panthers in Week 2, Cortland Finnegan in Week 10 and Aqib Talib in Week 13). He’s also faced some aggressive pass-rushes (Ray Horton’s blitzing Cardinals in Week 1, Gregg Williams’ blitzing Saints in Week 5 and Gunther Cunningham’s tireless Lions in Week 11).

He’s yet to face a combination of both, though. That’ll change Sunday. The Texans’ pass-rush is as fast and relentless as any in football. Their four-man linebacking unit might be the only group capable of chasing Newton down. Behind them, Johnathan Joseph is not just a good cover corner, he’s a great corner period. Joseph is one of just three players in the league this season who appears to possess the skill set necessary for shutting down Steve Smith (the others are Darrelle Revis and Champ Bailey, though strong arguments could also be made for Ike Taylor, Corey Webster and Patrick Peterson).

What sets Joseph apart is his acumen for defending the deep ball. And it’s the deep ball that has set Newton and Smith apart (they’ve hooked up for a league-high 25 passes over 20 yards). Aside from in the Week 3 monsoon at Jacksonville, Newton has not yet faced a defense that could wipe Smith out of the equation with just one player. We’ll find out just how much the young quarterback has really grown as a progression passer this Sunday.

Chargers vs. Ravens

Ray Lewis is an icon. Ed Reed is perhaps the greatest free safety who ever lived. Haloti Ngata is unblockable. But the best player on Baltimore’s No. 3 ranked defense is Terrell Suggs. In fact, one could argue that Suggs has been the best player on any defense this season. We’ve highlighted him in previous Film Room posts, but not with an outright endorsement for his Defensive Player of the Year campaign.

Last week against the Colts, Suggs forced three fumbles and recorded his second three-sack game in 17 days. He has a career-high 13 sacks on the season. Great as he’s been rushing the passer, his impact has been larger in other areas. His dropping back into coverage to take away quick slants played a big role in Baltimore’s win at Cleveland two weeks ago. In all games this season, Suggs has been a demon against the run. His length and speed are critical in backside pursuit, and his leverage and sheer physical force have long made him the best playside run defending linebacker in the game. Right now, there isn’t a better all-around defensive player than the ninth-year pro out of Arizona State.

Suggs is in perfect position to make a late push for Defensive Player of the Year this week. He has a game on Sunday Night Football, where you can bet Cris Collinsworth will share with the national television audience many of the items we’ve covered here. That game happens to be against a Chargers team that, because of Marcus McNeil’s neck injury, is starting recently signed journeyman Jared Gaither at left tackle.

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Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:01 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Coach Killers, Week 14: DeAngelo Hall is a statue

Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat.

By Ryan Wilson

DeAngelo Hall, Redskins

Back in Week 11, DeAngelo Hall suggested that the Redskins should cut him for his performance against the Cowboys. They didn't, but it sure seemed like he wasn't on the field for long stretches Sunday when Washington faced New England. And the few times he did make his presence known, it just made things worse.

The lowlight (in a day filled with them) came in the first quarter when Hall stood by (literally, he was standing two feet away and didn't move; it was as if he was trying to will himself invisible) as two teammates tried unsuccessfully to bring down Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (it was scene straight out of Gulliver's Travels). So instead of a 12-yard gain, Gronkowski rumbled for an extra 35 yards before Hall thought it wise to try to keep Gronkowski out of the end zone.

You can see the frame-by-frame hijinks here (or watch the moving-pictures proof below).


Want to see DeAngelo Hall pretend to be a statue? Then watch the video. It looks a lot like the freeze-frame above except that everybody else is moving. 

"DeAngelo Hall was guilty of poor effort, poor judgment and poor leadership," the Washington Post's Mike Jones wrote Monday. "[On the Gronkowski play] Hall said he thought the tight end was headed out of bounds, and maybe he didn’t want to get a penalty, but even a shove — not a head of steam blast -- could’ve helped. Instead, Hall turned and walked away."

It gets better. In the third quarter, Hall was flagged for holding, he disagreed, and thought it made sense to chuck the penalty flag up the field. He was flagged an additional 15 yards for being a d-bag. In one play, Hall had cost his team 20 yards of field position (and 35 more yards on the Gronkowski mishap). DeAngelo Hall: Your Washington Redskins team captain, everybody!

Ryan Succop, Chiefs

Kansas City isn't 5-8 because of kicker Ryan Succop. And Todd Haley wasn't kindly asked to leave Monday because of Ryan Succop. But what we're about to show you from Sunday's Chiefs-Jets game serves as a metaphor for Kansas City's season, which makes you want to laugh, cry and punch yourself in the face all at once.


Chiefs' kicker Ryan Succop failed in his onside kick attempt in the fourth quarter against the Jets. Was this the worst onside kick attempt ever? (Editor's note: unequivocally, YES.)

So that happened. To Succop's credit, he's the team's most consistent scoring threat this season, converting 18 of 21 field goal attempts, including 3 for 3 from beyond 49 yards. It's just that he struggles with distance control, particularly from 0-10 yards.

Silver lining: it's no longer your problem, Todd Haley!

Olindo Mare, Panthers

When Mare honked a 31-yard game-winning field goal in October, we gave him a pass because Cam Newton told us to.

“Whoever thinks this game came down the last possession is a fool,” Newton said at the time. “Offensively and defensively we had opportunities and we just didn’t finish it off.”

Week 14 Recap
Fair enough, and certainly wise words from the franchise's rookie quarterback. First-year head coach Ron Rivera also tried to be positive after Mare yipped the chip shot.

“The only thing I did for Olindo was I went and told him to keep his head up,” Rivera said. “He’s a heck of a football player and he’s going to get a chance to win football games for us and I believe that. We brought him in for a reason because we believe he can be our guy for the next few years.”

Yeah, about that…

The Panthers trailed the Falcons 24-23 with five minutes to go and the only thing between them and the lead was a 36-yard field goal. Again, a chip shot. Except that again, Mare somehow missed it.

"I haven't seen it. I don't need to see it. It didn't go in," Mare said, standing in front of his locker 45 minutes after the game. "Regardless of how good I think I hit it or how windy it was or whatever ... I've made kicks in windier conditions. I have no excuses. The only excuse is I just didn't do my job."

Rivera, presumably uninterested in pep talks, instead said "we will have to sit down and visit with him on [the miss]."

Worth pointing out: the Panthers led 23-7 before letting the Falcons back in the game. If Newton's “Whoever thinks this game came down the last possession is a fool" speech was ever relevant it was Sunday. It doesn't change Mare's failures, but it could be worse: he could be Ryan Succop (though Succop will probably have a job next week).

The Panthers signed Mare to a four-year $12-million deal before the season. Just a hunch: Mare isn't around for the life of the contract.

Carson Palmer, Raiders

Maybe Palmer wishes he stayed on the couch.
After Sunday's 1 o'clock games, we had Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky penciled in here. His rough outing against the Ravens wasn't unexpected (in fact, he thought he'd play worse), but the loss dropped Indy to 0-13, and Orlovsky, who started seven games for the Lions in 2008, ran his career record to 0-9. (Detroit, you may recall, went 0-16.)

But Carson Palmer's performance against the Packers guaranteed him a spot in this week's Killers. Green Bay's defense forced Palmer into four interceptions, including one on the opening drive and another in the Packers' end zone. This is the same Green Bay defense, by the way, that ranks 24th in the league, according to Football Outsiders, and headed into Week 14 having allowed more total yards than that hapless bunch in New England.

Palmer, who the Raiders acquired after sending a couple high-round picks to the Bengals earlier this season, has been a disappointment. In seven games (six starts), he has nine touchdowns, 13 interceptions and Oakland is 3-4.

Sunday's loss not only put them a game behind the Broncos in the AFC West, it dropped them to ninth in the wild-card hunt (behind the Titans and Bengals).

"I just need to be more patient, take what they give me and try not to score 14 points on one drive," Palmer said after the game, according to the Oakland Tribune. "Take it one play at a time, take the shot if it's there, and if not, live for the next down, and I didn't do that."

No, no you didn't. Raiders head coach Hue Jackson, the man who orchestrated the Palmer trade, obviously has a lot riding on this.

"I'm disappointed in the four picks, and I told him so," Jackson said. "I think you have somebody who's pressing, trying to make plays for a football team. There were times we made some ill-advised throws and we've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball, and he knows that."

The Raiders are long shots to make the playoffs. They face Detroit, Kansas City and San Diego and there's no telling which team shows up. They're just as likely to go 3-0 as 0-3.

Marion Barber, Bears

The Power of Tebow compelled Barber to fumble.
Poor Marion Barber. He seems like a hard worker and a solid dude but he was in the wrong place at the wrong time -- twice -- Sunday against the Broncos.

We watched in horror as Barber ran out of bounds with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter and the Bears leading 10-7. Denver was out of timeouts; if Barber goes down in the field of play, the clock continues to run, Chicago runs the ball again on third down, and by the time the Broncos get the ball back, they'd have about 25 seconds to get into field-goal range.

Didn't happen.

(Aside: In the 1986 World Cup, Argentina's Diego Maradona scored a goal against England on an obvious hand ball -- well, it was obvious to everyone but the officials. It became known as "The Hand of God" goal. Different circumstances Sunday, but we're pretty sure The Hand of God played a part in the outcome.)

Barber is a seven-year veteran who knows that you have to stay inbounds. And yet he didn't. Our theory: The Hand of God pushed him out of bounds. And it was the Hand of God that knocked the ball out of Barber's arms in overtime, just as it looked like he was about to break off a big run -- maybe even a touchdown -- and end the Broncos' six-game winning streak.

It sounds ridiculous, we know. But there is no rational explanation for what happened Sunday. Or for the five Sundays before that. But that's the Power of Tebow.

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Posted on: December 11, 2011 10:28 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 10:30 pm
 

Mike Smith taken to hospital with chest pains

By Will Brinson

Atlanta snuck by Carolina 31-23 on Sunday, but Mike Smith had a much scarier experience than anything relating to football, as the Falcons were concerned their coach might have had a heart attack following the game.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter, Smith was "rushed to the hospital with chest pains" while the rest of the team boarded their charter plane back to Atlanta.

"Following the Falcons verses Carolina game today head coach Mike Smith was transported to the hospital in Charlotte for a non-emergency matter," the Falcons told the AJC. "Coach Smith is resting comfortably. His tests have reaffirmed his health and he’s expected to be in Atlanta on Monday."

The wording from the Falcons is certainly good -- "non-emergency," "reaffirmed his health," and "resting comfortably" are all phrases you want associated with someone who went to the hospital with chest pains.

Smith is just 52, but the life of an NFL coach is obviously a stressful one, so it's certainly better to be safe than sorry in this sort of instance, and it's good to hear that, at least according to the team, he's not dealing with a major medical issue at the moment.


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Posted on: December 9, 2011 1:02 pm
 

Teammates, coaches back Newton's bold statements

By Will Brinson



Cam Newton's rookie season's gone quite controversy-free (outside of handing a football to a fan anyway!), and people seem content to just let him cruise along, shattering NFL records.

Until he says stuff that could be misconstrued anyway -- during Newton's first national interview in quite some time, the Panthers quarterback said he's just trying to "get everybody on my level."

Well, kind of. What really happened is that Newton tried to point out how difficult it is to be on a losing team, since he's never been there before by making a jungle analogy, then turning it into a house analogy then accidentally saying he wanted to "get out of that house" at which point he was like "wait, I love it here!" or something.

“What happens when you take a lion out of the safari and try to take him to your place of residence and make him a house pet? ... It ain’t going to happen,” Newton said in an interview with ESPN the Magazine this week. "That's the type of person that I am. I'm that lion. The house that I’m in is somewhat of a tarnished house where losing is accepted. But I’m trying to change that, whether I'm going to have to turn that house into a safari or I'm just going to have to get out of that house.”

"I'm not trying to leave this place. I'm just trying to get everybody on my level."

So what Cam's trying to say, really, is that he wants to change the culture in Carolina. And good news -- everyone's OK with that.


"It doesn’t bother me at all," wide receiver Steve Smith told The Charlotte Observer. "I’d rather have a guy who is upset that we lost, obviously handling it the right way, than a guy who is neither way, whichever way.

"I like a guy who has the desire not to win next year, but he wants to win immediately. I think we needed more of that."

Smith's not the only member of the Panthers organization getting Newton's back, either. Head coach Ron Rivera is firmly on board with the notion that the culture in Charlotte needs to change.

"To me, the thing I like about it more than anything is it's important, it really is," Rivera said. "It's the old saying that if you didn't put your heart into it, it wouldn't hurt. He does. He puts everything into it.

"To me, there is no issue. I still struggle when I hear people talking about the stuff with that and the towel and that stuff, it doesn't make sense to me."

When Rivera refers to "the towel" he's discussing the inexplicable need for anyone covering a Panthers game to discuss the fact that Newton wears a towel on his head in between offensive series. The natural talking point is that Newton's "tuning out teammates" or "hiding his emotions" or something silly.

The idea that he might just be paying homage to the G.O.A.T.'s practice of doing the same is just too simplistic, apparently.

What's kind of interesting about this "controversy" from a social perspective, though, is the difference between the response to Newton's comments now and the response to Newton's pre-draft comments about becoming an "icon and an entertainer."

Obviously "changing the culture" and "becoming famous" aren't equal in terms of the soundbite value they hold, but the reaction to Newton's latest comments is much more tepid than the previous outcry.

And, quite simply, it's because Newton's been successful this season. And he's helping the Panthers win more than they were before he got there.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com