Monday, November 8, 2010

So THIS is what bottom looks like?

Wow. Just wow.

Carolina Panthers got smoked 34-3 by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, a game that was not nearly as close as the score might indicate.

The "plan" put in place by the organization before the season began, is coming to fruition. Jettison most of your veteran leadership, sign young players to fill those spots, hope for the best, pray for few injuries, and let the coaching staff coach 'em up. See how we'll finish.

That loud boom you just heard was that plan blowing up in owner Jerry Richardson's face.

I want to state, for the record, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mr. Richardson. He is the first former NFL player to own a franchise in the league. He has always been accommodating to fans of the team, making the rounds to tailgates on gamedays, and his team is always out in the community, giving back.

All that being said, this plan stinks for the fans of this team. It is hard for them to justify paying NFL prices for a product that is turning out to be less than standard. Back on September 29th, in this very space, I wrote this:
"I am curious as to why the Panthers are in this pickle. Why they felt the need
to jettison so much of their experience. I know there were some sizable
contracts attached to that experience, but it's almost like the plot line from
the baseball movie "Major League." The team owner, Rachel Phelps,
instructs her baseball people (scouts, GM, etc), to bring in certain players to
training camp. The intent is for her team, the Cleveland Indians, to be so
horrendous on the field, that attendance figures will fall to the point she can
relocate the team to Florida.

Of course, the Panthers aren't talking about relocating, but they have so many guys on the roster that are young and inexperienced, it makes me wonder if ownership isn't simply playing out the season as they anticipate a very possible lockout next season. Next year, the Panthers will have some decisions to make about personnel, but as it stands now, no collective bargaining agreement exists. Is 2010 just a throw-away?"
I bring that quote back from a little over a month ago, to illustrate this point. There was very little depth on this team to begin with, and now that QB Matt Moore, RB's Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Tyrell Sutton, MLB Dan Connor and rookie DE Greg Hardy are dinged with injuries, the Panthers have been exposed as a team with very little in the cupboard. THIS was the plan?

It's a guarantee, now, not just speculation, that John Fox won't be back next season. This is his final contract year with the club, and his frustration with "the plan," is showing. He kicked aside personnel questions better than an NHL goaltender on Sunday, basically saying, "I didn't buy the groceries, I'm just the cook, and I did my best to make it taste good."

My friend and colleague Bill Voth from the ABC affiliate in Charlotte, used some of his sportscast on Sunday night to call out Richardson, basically telling the owner that an explanation from him is due, in fact long overdue. While I commend Bill for the way he executed it (good execution is the key), those pleas fall on deaf ears. Richardson seems to not care about the opinions of the fans or media in this instance. If he does care, he's not rushing to speak to anyone about it.

I am blessed to be associated with smart people, and I spoke with one of them before the game. In regards to Richardson's "plan," my buddy told me that Richardson sacrificed his own team for the good of the league. Basically, he has shown the rest of the league's owners, he is willing to take the hit at the gate, as well as in the court of popular opinion, in order to help the owners head into what is shaping up to be a nasty labor negotiation. What will his reward be? It might be the first pick in the April draft.

Question is, would the Panthers trade that pick away, too?

Mike Solarte


MichaelProcton said...

"Sacrificed his team?" Unacceptable. It isn't his fantasy league. It's a professional franchise supported by fans who have invested thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands, in PSLs, tickets, travel to away games, and merchandise. And to think, they RAISED prices in anticipation of this embarrassment of an effort. Pitiful all around, but don't expect an apology or even explanation from Richardson. He's too busy saving the league and dismissing this team's fans like the inconvenient peasants we are.

MichaelProcton said...

‎"Jake is the classiest guy on this team and in this organization. Jake's the best. We're really close. I wouldn't be playing as well as I am now without Jake. That's who he is. He wants to win too. He's a competitor, but when circumstances like [his injury] happen it's not the end of the world for everybody. He understands that and knows that this team needs to win. He's been helping me so much."
--Colt McCoy, on Jake Delhomme
P.S.: The Carolina Panthers are paying Jake Delhomme $13 MILLION this season not to play for them. It seems they also have several young quarterbacks who could have used his leadership and mentoring abilities. Sweet call, Jerry Richardson. Thanks for punting the season so you could set an example.