Get to know the Panthers from a Panther fan
Soooo, how can I introduce myself. I'm a Panthers fan from New Jersey but from being saturated in Giantsland I know about as much on the Giants as I do the Panthers. If you're wondering why, I think it's a combination of the whole "local" fandom thing becoming less and less prominent in the information age where you can access media on any team you want, and you like who you like. I also chat with countless Panther fans over on an unaffiliated Panthers discussion forum. I figure since the media spotlight doesn't shine bright on the Panthers there may not be a whole lot you know about the franchise and so I'm here to give you a better idea. Besides that I'm not here to talk a bunch of crap about who's going to beat who and I'll get to my evaluation of how the game is going to play out later. If I make any historical recaps on the Panthers it will only go as far back as, say, the 2005 NFC Wildcard game because that was about the last time the team was relevant. And I only bring it up because just about all of you would distinctly remember it, and may be wondering what the hell happened to the Panthers since then. I'm just going to go by an order of what comes to my mind first...
Cam Newton - This guy is single-handedly attracting spotlight to our team and putting it back into relevance. For the longest time the Panthers front office thought it could bring in any scrub QB and achieve success after they struck lightning with Delhomme. After Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen failed miserably to carry the torch after Jake just didn't have anything left, Marty Hurney stepped out of his comfort zone and went all in on a QB in the first round, which was years overdue. Cam Newton is an electrifying QB that is changing the way the game is played as we speak. He can run, yes, but he's not a "running" QB in the same vein as Vince Young. The guy is also one of the best deep passers in the league (and advanced stats from 2011 will back this up), and is only getting better on his intermediate throws. He pretty much is the biggest reason RGIII was drafted where he was. He accounted for nearly 4,800 yards of total offense and 35 touchdowns in only his rookie season. And he's only going to get better. Don't take him lightly
If you get frustrated with your front office... - Trust me, it can get a lot more frustrating. If I had to compile a list of the 5 best general managers in the league, Jerry Reese would be somewhere up there. His investment in the secondary with guys like Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips, and then on the defensive line with Canty and JPP really paid off. He values a violent pass rush and a solid secondary which is what is needed to counteract all of these elite passing teams. On the other hand, Carolina just spent about 80 million in contract money just on the running back position, in the last year. There's no reason why they needed to make that kind of investment while we have mediocre safeties, barely any corner depth, and a defensive line that could use an infusion of talent. Imagine giving both Bradshaw and Jacobs $40 million contract extensions. It's a passing league now, you don't need to stack the running game with talent, and if there's any proof of that, it's the fact that you guys won the superbowl last year with the very worst running game in the league, while Carolina's record-breaking efficiency in the running game led us to a 6-10 record because we didn't have a defense that could cover anybody or pressure a QB. It annoys me Hurney sunk so much cash in that one position but if this team wins a championship I don't care.
About that John Fox guy - Fox is a very polarizing figure in Carolina. Half of the fanbase loves him, half of it despises him. For the first 4 years in Carolina, Fox was probably one of the best coaches in the league. He turned a perennial basement dwelling expansion team with no direction into a contender within 2 years. ...then he started resting on his laurels. After the 05 season, which ended in an NFCC loss to the Seahawks, the Panthers just couldn't deliver on the expectations time and time again, and Fox had no shortage of excuses.
Instead of raising the standard in Carolina, his early success yielded complacency and an indifference to losing. His defenses could never figure out what a Tight End was, and his offenses only thought of a tight end as an extra blocker. He wasn't innovative. His blitzes were unimaginative. His 8 yard cushions on a 3rd and 5 were infuriating to witness. His teams got gradually worse and worse, like the old frog in a boiling pot of water story. The 08 playoff loss to Arizona did it for me. Getting dominated at home, watching Delhomme implode, and seeing Fitz aggregate nearly 150 receiving yards in the first half because Fox wouldn't let our no.1 corner shadow him on the field convinced me we were spinning our wheels with Fox. He should've been fired right there after the game, but the front office let him go through the motions the last two years because they were too polite to can him.
Even now in Denver he coaches a dream team led by Peyton Manning, but I think he'll squander his tenure there just like he did in Charlotte. In my opinion he's like 20 years behind in his football acumen. Teams aren't winning championships by virtue of the running game anymore. The NFL has evolved into this passing league for a plethora of reasons. But Fox doesn't like the idea of farming a top-talent "franchise QB" as much as he likes veteran QBs or game manager types like Hostetler, Kyle Orton, etc that are useless in today's league. That's not to compare Manning with QBs like that, but if I had my choice of signing Manning in the shape that he's in or trading up for one of the top 2 QBs in the draft, I'm going to get my guy in the draft.
Thoughts about the game tomorrow - I'm really looking forward to seeing how we match up with you guys. The Giants are, in my opinion, the barometer in this league, despite the slow start. You guys are injured, but that has never stopped you before, and you proved that you can come back no matter how bad you play in the early going last Sunday. You're a tough, gritty, battle-tested team led by a QB who in my opinion deserves a lot more respect than he gets. It's not a defining moment for either team tomorrow night because there are a lot more games to be played but if the Panthers can squeak out a win, my confidence in them will be boosted a bit. Steve Smith vs. Corey Webster is going to be a huge match-up. Brandon LaFell is an emerging receiver that is on the threshold of a breakout year. He's already on pace for over 1200 receiving yards, which will give Smith one of the best complementary weapons he's ever had. I think the game is going to be decided within 10 points. Of course, there's the possibility of one of us deciding not to show up and getting blown out, but it's far more likely that won't be the case.
The Giants have Panther fans' respect - There are a number of extra-divisional teams the Panther fanbase hates (including Dallas), but the Giants are not among them. Though there are a few fringe exceptions, Panther fans in general view the Giants as a very respectable franchise with some of the classiest fans in the league, including me. Some of that is because you've beaten the Patriots twice in the Superbowl, but for me there are many reasons, a few of which I've already gone over in this thread. I generally wish the Giants the best as long as they're not getting in Carolina's way.
Besides that, here's to an entertaining and injury-free game tomorrow night. Go Panthers, and if you have any other questions about the Panthers, feel free to ask.