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Saturday, October 17, 2009
Mailbag: Carolina Panthers edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

Time for the Carolina Panthers in our series of team-by-team mailbags.

Alex in New Brunswick, N.J. writes: Here's an interesting stat for you: Panthers opponents' average yards per scoring drive this season is 34.3 (counting a return as a 0 yard scoring drive). Ironically, this makes me somewhat optimistic. I think the defense is good enough to give this team a chance if the offense can just stop turning it over so much. What do you think?

Pat Yasinskas: Sure, the Panthers theoretically could turn things around if the defense plays up to its capabilities. But I think the defense has been an even bigger disappointment than the offense this year. I mean, we knew the offense had limitations. With players like Jon Beason, Julius Peppers and Chris Gamble, a lot of people expected the defense to be great. So far, it hasn’t even been close. The defense needs to improve for this team to have any chance.



Malcolm in Blacksburg, S.C. writes: I was at the Carolina/Redskins game and looking down on the formation really brought something to my attention. I didn't realize how much the defense leaned to Steve Smith's side. I heard about the double teams and could see them when I watched on television. But seeing it live was appalling. Does Moose have nothing left? Can we get Smitty some help?!?

Pat Yasinskas: Good observation. It’s been that way for several years with teams loading up on Smith. Muhsin Muhammad doesn’t have the speed to really scare a defense and that allows opponents to load up on Smith. Amazingly, he still can put up big numbers. But it sure would be nice if he had someone to take some of the attention away. The Panthers have tried with the likes of Dwayne Jarrett and Keary Colbert, but they haven’t been able to find a receiver who can beat out the aging Muhammad.



Jeremy in Wilmington, N.C. writes: Hey Pat, first I would like to say you do a great job on the articles/updates on the NFC South teams. Now to business, I am a Panthers fan (Yes, tough times right now) and would like to know what do you think the organization is going to do in terms of getting a QB of the future? This talk of Quinn possibly leaving Cleveland sounds interesting, but I doubt the Panthers would do anything until post-season, after signing Feeley and all. We all know that Jake is not our future (I thought that was proven last year) so any thoughts?P.S. I still have faith in Jake for this season, he has been throwing much better lately...

Pat Yasinskas: The Panthers aren’t going to trade for Brady Quinn. They’re in the middle of their season and John Fox is fighting for his job. He’s going to ride Jake Delhomme because that’s his best shot at winning. Bringing in a quarterback from outside at this point makes no sense because the quarterback wouldn’t be ready. If Delhomme gets hurt or gets yanked from the lineup, A.J. Feeley would be the replacement. Now, after this season, I’m sure the Panthers will either draft or go out and sign a quarterback – no matter if Fox or someone else is coaching the team.



Rob in Charlotte writes: DeAngelo Williams may not be off to the start many of us expected, but in actuality, his numbers through four games this year are slightly better than his numbers through for games in 2008. While his newly developed "Deshaun Fosteritus" is a concern as far as ball security goes, I don't think it's a sign of his falling stock. Against the Eagles, we were never in a position to run the ball due to being behind early, and Jake's miscues, and against the Cowboys he never really got a chance to get going with only 11 carries. I fully expect this week against the Bucs will be a coming out party for our entire offense, especially for Williams and our embarrassed offensive line. Keep up the good work.

Pat Yasinskas: Rob, yes, it’s true that Williams’ numbers for the first four games this year aren’t off from the first four last year. But my comment was meant to reflect what Williams has done so far this year hasn’t even been close to what we came to expect from him as he ran wild late in the season last year. I expected him to pick up where he left off last year and so did the Panthers. He hasn’t done that, but there still is plenty of time for him to get on track.