Carolina edition of the mailbag
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Time to continue with our third installment of today's team-by-team mailbags. This time, it's the Carolina Panthers.
Michael in Fort Lauderdale writes: With Carolina and Jake Delhomme playing like garbage rite now. How do you see this division panning out with the Falcons, Bucs, and Saints playing really well rite now?
Pat Yasinskas: I know it may seem hard to believe, but the Panthers have lost only one game in the time they've been "playing like garbage''. That's true -- they didn't look good at all in wins against Detroit and Oakland and maybe the bottom falls out in Green Bay on Sunday. But, maybe, they put it back together and make this race very interesting. Carolina's got the toughest schedule over the last five games and Tampa Bay's schedule isn't bad. They've got to be considered the two favorites right now, simply because they're 8-3. But Atlanta is hanging in there nicely and the Falcons have established they're for real. You can't count them out. As I said above, you can't count the Saints out, either. They've got talent, but they've been inconsistent all season. If they can suddenly find some consistency, it's not impossible for them to run the table.
Vance in Salisbury, NC writes: Since its NFL Hall of Fame season. I have a list of names from the Panthers. Who do you belive is most deserving, and deserving at all if any: Sam Mills, Mike Rucker, Mike Minter, Stephen Davis, Mark Fields (John Kasay in future?).
Pat Yasinskas: I'd love to say Sam Mills should be in the Hall of Fame. Great player and an even greater person. But I can't honestly say Mills absolutely should be in the Hall of Fame. He was a linebacker without very flashy stats and it's hard to make a case for him. I'd still put him first out of the guys on your list and ahead of Kevin Greene, who wasn't on your list, but made it to the cut of 25 guys this year. Greene only spent a small portion of his career with the Panthers and so did Mills. Greene does have the flashy stats because he was a pass-rush specialist. But I'd argue for Mills ahead of him because I think Mills did more for his teams overall. As far as Rucker, Minter, Davis, Fields and Kasay, they all were (or in Kasay's case is a) very nice players. But I don't think any of them are Hall of Famers. I think Carolina's best bet for its first Hall of Famer might be Julius Peppers or Steve Smith, if they can put up big numbers for a few more years.