Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday...back after it

OK, the bye week is over, and the Panthers are back in game mode, as they prepare for the west coast trip to Oakland to face the Raiders. I'll look at that game a little more later in the week, but for now, thoughts from the weekend.

- Those that know me, know that I spent the first 2 years of my career in Lubbock, Texas, home of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. I was a bit conflicted Saturday night watching tech against Texas. Seeing Jones Stadium (home of the Raiders) filled, with a sea of black made me a little choked up, as it reminded me of the early days of my job. Going to games, watching tech play, and often times, come up short in games they needed to win in order to improve their bowl hopes. Watching them take the lead, surrender it, and then come back to win it was thrilling. The conflict I had was watching Mack Brown's Longhorns lose. I covered Brown's Tar Heels when I first arrived in Raleigh. There were some hard feelings when Mack left for Austin, but I understood at the time. I understood why he had to leave. He's won a national championship with Texas--and he would have been hard pressed to win one while with Carolina (back then). Who knows how good his Heels could have become had he stayed. Anyway, Tech and Alabama lead the BCS standings now, so we'll have to see how this all plays out. Good for Tech, though. Big win for them.

- Upon further review, the Dallas Cowboys are a joke. Maybe that's a bit harsh. They are what the Panthers were last year. High hopes, but lose your quarterback, and you're toast. Brad Johnson of 2008 = David Carr of 2007. The Cowboys go into their bye after getting throttled by the New York Giants in week 9, and I would think Tony Romo will be in uniform when Dallas meets Philadelphia. The Cowboys are beat up (Romo, Felix Jones, Jason Witten and others) with injuries, so the week off comes at a good time for them. I don't see Dallas as a contender any longer, though. Hope I am right.

The Giants appear legit. And props to Justin Tuck for giving grief to the field reporter, Pam Oliver, when she mentioned the Cowboys were "depleted." Missing your QB does not make you depleted, especially when Marion Barber, Terrell Owens, Witten, Patrick Crayton and others are playing on the offensive side of the ball. They were down Romo. That's it. The Giants won a big game, and appear to be the class of the NFC East, if not the NFC as a whole. Week 16 is looking like a battle for home field advantage throughout the playoffs, provided by the Giants and Panthers hold serve until then.

- Also in the Giants-Cowboys game, one of the absolute worst calls I have ever seen was the roughing-the-passer flag thrown on Tuck, when he hit Brooks Bollinger (replaced Brad Johnson). Tuck made contact with Bollinger as the ball was being released on a pass. What could Tuck have done to avoid tackling the QB? Absolutely nothing. It's a garbage rule. Players that have spoken up about it are 100% correct. The QB is a vital position, and I understand why the NFL wants to protect them, but at some point, we have to remember that the game is football. People get hit, and even tackled. If you are on the field, and in a uniform, you are just as likely to get hit as anyone else. The fact that there are specialty rules in place for QB's is fine, but let's not go overboard. It's football, not ballroom dancing.

- Carl Edwards won't go away. He's won back-to-back races in the Chase, and has actually made this Sprint Cup chase interesting. He went from being 183 points down to 106 in one race, and now with 2 to go, anything can happen. I still think Jimmie Johnson is the man to beat, but at least it should go to Homestead with the issue left to be decided.

- Charlotte Bobcats on the floor tonight against Detroit, on the heels of the Pistons trying to (or already finished depending on who you talk to), land Allen Iverson from the Denver Nuggets for Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess. Don't think Iverson will be in uniform tonight (if the deal is finalized), but that could be big for both sides. We'll have to wait and see.

Hope you have a great Monday, and we'll talk again through the week.

Mike Solarte

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