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Saturday, September 26, 2009
Mailbag: Carolina Panthers edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


The Carolina Panthers are the final stop on our tour of team-by-team mailbags.

Robert in Bakersfield, Calif. writes: Seeing as Steve Smith is such a passionate player, and hates to lose; how much patience do you see Smith showing the Panthers before he requests a trade to a different team?

Pat Yasinskas: I would never try to read Steve Smith’s mind, but I think we all know he is an incredibly competitive person. I can’t see him being happy when his team is losing. Smith has set roots down in Charlotte and seems pretty happy there. But, if the losing continues …well, let’s just say I don’t think Smith is the type of person who will sit still and tolerate it.


Nathan in Cary, NC writes: Pat, Two questions. First, does the Panthers' defensive woes have anything to do with playing 2 of the top QBs in the 1st 2 weeks, or is there a whole lot more? Also, why does everyone think Cowher can come to Carolina and put in a 3-4? All of Carolina's LBs are under or right at 240 lbs. I thought, for the 3-4, they needed to be closer to 250-260.

Pat Yasinskas: I’m sure playing against Donovan McNabb and Matt Ryan had something to do with the disappointing showings by the defense. But I think it goes deeper than that. Carolina’s defense just hasn’t been very good in the first two games and there were signs of this late last season. Any John Fox team is supposed to be built around defense. If he doesn’t get this defense going soon, it’s going to get ugly and the Bill Cowher cries will start coming. We’ll see how things play out with Fox. But, personally, I don’t see Cowher landing in Carolina under any circumstances. I think he’ll go to a bigger market if he returns to coaching. I also think the Panthers will go with a rising coordinator if they do make any move with Fox.


David in Poolesville, MD writes: Hey Pat.I wanted to inquire about a story you wrote about Jerry Richardson's sons. Is there any information that you know of that would explain this any more than a simple "They didn’t feel like doing it anymore"? I ask because this story is pretty disheartening, especially when considering the quality of person Jerry is, and the quality of organization the Panthers have working for them. Charlotte adores that team, meaning Jerry's sons surely threw out a truly golden opportunity here.

Pat Yasinskas: David, that’s a great question and the whole situation with Jerry Richardson and his sons Jon and Mark resigning as team presidents right before the first game is one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen. I’ve heard bits and pieces of the many rumors about this move. But I don’t have anything strong enough to report other than there was some sort of clash between the sons that the father thought was irreparable and he forced them to resign. We may never know the full story on this one because the three Richardsons are the only ones who really know what happened and I don’t expect them to ever talk about it. All I can say is that things must have been really bad if Jerry Richardson saw the best thing for this franchise was to get rid of his sons.


Jimmy in Charlotte writes: Not real sure how to take the Panthers so far this season. I had really high hopes for this year, but they’re starting to slip away. I know it’s not impossible to make the playoffs, but I feel as if Monday night in Big D is a must win for them. I also don't understand why they never blitz. Use what you have and make the best of it (ex. Peppers.) Just let him rush and that’s all, play 5 yards off the line so he has 2 steps on the OL.

Pat Yasinskas: Monday night in Dallas is a must-win game for the Panthers. They lose this one and their season is over. As for the blitz, Fox never has been known as a big believer in the blitz. Neither is new coordinator Ron Meeks. They believe in getting their pressure from the front four. The problem there is, you don’t get any pressure if you don’t get it from your front four.


Sheldon in Atlanta: The Panthers have been very up and down from the beginning and John Fox has not seemed able to bring them two winning seasons in a row. Don't you think they should consider a change at head coach if they fall under 500 again this season? They seem to have a revolving door with assistant coaches but at some point don't they have to make a change at the top?

Pat Yasinskas: Yep, Fox is clearly on the hot seat. He’s never put together back-to-back winning seasons and Richardson is painfully aware of that. Fox has done a lot of good for this franchise, but patience is wearing thin. Anything less than a playoff berth and I think Fox is gone.


Vance in Greensboro writes: Thomas Davis, in 2 losses, has shown heart and dedication to the Panthers. He is leading the NFL in tackles with 28. Just thought I would pass this on to you.

Pat Yasinskas: Let’s end this one on a positive note. Yes, Davis is having a very nice season. In fact, the former first-round pick has really blossomed over the last couple of years and has turned into a playmaker. At least the Panthers have something going for them.