Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wild week rolls along

Panthers taking on Cincinnati on Sunday, and Jimmy Clausen gets the start at QB, his first in the NFL. Don't know that will be the difference, but why not shake things up? If Clausen has a big day, the Panthers could roll from there. If he struggles, the Panthers will be in for a long afternoon. I'm not sure which way this one will go, but the smart money game plan says pound it on the ground with Stewart and Williams, a dash of Goodson for good measure. Sprinkle in the occasional toss to Smith, LaFell, Gettis, Jarrett (2 of those last 3 should play), and play keep-away with the football. The longer Carson Palmer and the Bengal offense stays on the sidelines, the better it is for Carolina.

Defensively, the Panthers have to find a way to get to Palmer. 19 sacks in the pre-season, but just 1 in their opening 2 games. That simply indicates the stakes are higher, and as such, teams are game-planning to protect their QB's. On the flipside of that, the Panthers have surrendered 8 sacks in their first 2 games. That would suggest that teams are finding weaknesses in the offensive line, and taking advantage.

The recipe: tighten up the offensive line, run the ball, make Palmer uncomfortable, and keep Clausen confident. If Carolina can cook that up, they could break into the win column.

NASCAR hammered Clint Bowyer with a 150 point penalty, after they found his car had issues in the way the body was married to the chassis, following the Loudon race--a race Bowyer won, and moved up to 2nd in the points. Stripping him of 150 points basically wipes out the race win, but is it fair? Points leader Denny Hamlin ran 2nd, and got 2nd place points, but since he finished 2nd to a car that was deemed illegal, shouldn't everyone move up a spot in the points? That is a discussion for another day. The point I want to make is this: take all 12 cars in the Chase back to the R&D center and look all of them over. Bowyer's case is different, as NASCAR warned that team they were close to breaking rules in Richmond, and there would be another inspection after Loudon. Isn't the Chase supposed to be the 10 race playoffs that determine the champion, and should be above board in all aspects?

I am not accusing any team of deliberate cheating. Far from it. I am calling on NASCAR to ensure that the champ will be the guy that has the best Chase, and not the est way of getting away with rules violations. For instance, Jimmie Johnson finished 25th at Loudon, but nobody wants to inspect his car. I'm not suggesting there is anything illegal on the 48, but how would anyone know? Keep the field level, look at all of the Chase cars, regardless of finish. Make all the teams play by the same rules.

OK, enough ranting for tonight. If anything strikes a nerve between now and Sunday, I'll light this candle again.

Mike Solarte

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