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Saturday, October 3, 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.

AlDogg in DC writes: Pat - The Panthers deserve to be getting slammed for a lot of things, but check out these run stats from the Dallas game: 7 carries for 3 yards or less, 5 between 5 and 10 yards, and 3 runs over 10 yards. We were down by less than a TD until the very end, so why no finger pointing at the play caller? Last year we had about 400 pass plays and 500 run plays. Against Dallas we had 33 pass and 14 run. It seems like the guy who hasn't gotten over the Arizona loss is Jeff Davidson, not Jake Delhomme.

Pat Yasinskas: Excellent point. I can’t say I’ve ever been totally sold on Davidson’s offense. It did nothing in 2007 when Delhomme was injured. It looked good at times last season, but even the playoff game was a big warning sign. With such a great running game, I still can’t believe the Panthers put the game in Delhomme’s hands on a rainy night in Charlotte. I know a lot of fans were happy to see Dan Henning go as the offensive coordinator a few years back. But I never agreed with that move. Are the Panthers really better now than they were with Henning? Ultimately, a coordinator is going to run an offense the way the head coach wants.


Vance in Greensboro writes: I didn't know this, but it turns that the of the 4 teams that have been 0-3 and been to the playoffs, John Fox was with one of them. the 1992 San Diego Chargers. he was the defensive backs coach. just a fun fact. (not so fun for us)

Pat Yasinskas: Actually, I did know that and that San Diego team started 0-4. The only reason I know that is because Fox brought it up quite a bit a few years ago when the Panthers got off to a slow start. I’m sure he’s brought it up to his team several times this week. With the bye, he still can get some mileage from this one.


Kevin in Baltimore writes: I think Jake is becoming the scapegoat on a team that has much bigger problems than the quarterback position. Both the offensive and defensive lines are being absolutely owned. Without Kemo, the middle of the Panthers line cannot stop the run. I think that might hurt the oline too as instead of being worn out, defenses come out refreshed and dominate our offensive line. Otah got run around on numerous plays Monday. Steve Smith isn't really giving it his all out there and is giving up on some plays (one of them threw away the Panthers chance at a comeback bid). Peppers still doesn't care. Jake's picks the last two games were partly his fault. Versus the falcons, he tried to make something out of nothing to tie up the ballgame and nothing was there so he tried to get it to his playmaker who couldn't come up with it. I'm fine with that play. On Monday, Steve Smith didn't finish a route and Moose didn't challenge for the ball. If Fox can't get his defense going, the Panthers won't win more than 4 games. What are your thoughts on these points?

Pat Yasinskas: You’re preaching to the choir here. I’ve always thought Delhomme gets too much blame when things go bad in Carolina. He’s supposed to be a game manager and don’t ask him to be more than that. The defensive line is a mess and that’s a shame because, just a few years ago, the Panthers might have had the best defensive line in football. They let it get old and crumble and Julius Peppers is the only guy who’s still there. And I’ve never been sure that Peppers’ head or heart has been in the game. The offensive line has been a huge disappointment. Not sure I’d ever question Steve Smith’s effort …unless there were like six oceans between us.


JM in Charlotte writes: Hey Pat. I would like your thoughts on the Carolina-Dallas game. What I saw was a team that from top to bottom has given up. I saw no heart at the end of that game. The cornerbacks looked afraid to tackle and Peppers seemed exhausted by the 3rd down. Only two guys looked like they had any fight left in them, DeAngelo Williams and, I hate to say it, Jake Delhomme.

Pat Yasinskas: I don’t think Delhomme’s effort has ever been a question. Same with Smith and Williams, but that’s about all I can exclude.


Jeremy in Reno writes: The Panthers schedule and after their bye week is Washington, at Tampa, and Buffalo. All three teams seem to be struggling off the bat. What do you think the chances are that the Panthers defeat those 3 teams, go to 3-3 and build up some confidence and momentum going into the middle of the season?

Pat Yasinskas: Yes, those three games look winnable if the Panthers suddenly get back to what they were last season. But I’m looking real hard for signs that they’re anything close to that team and am having trouble finding them.


Jonathan in Honolulu writes: Pat, please tell me the Panthers are going to sign the newly released Jeff Garcia? I know the Monday Night game wasn't Delhomme's fault, but how long will it be until another one is his fault? And tell me you have inside information that says John Fox will be fired if there's an 0-4 start? Seriously Pat, I'm in the middle of the Pacific Ocean here... I need some good news! Otherwise I'm gonna stop getting up at 7am on Sundays to watch this pathetic excuse for a football team.

Pat Yasinskas: Sorry, but your team’s not going to sign Jeff Garcia. He’s old and I’m not sure if he ever was any good. If there’s a quarterback change it will be A.J. Feeley or Matt Moore. On your request for good news, I’ve got some: It looks like you should be able to sleep pretty late from now until January.