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Saturday, December 27, 2008
Saturday mailbag: Carolina edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Since the mailbag was more than overflowing this week, I'm doing a special Saturday edition of team-by-team mailbags. We'll start with the Carolina Panthers.

Gabe in Waxhaw, NC, writes: Pat, What do you think about the Panthers running a power option with both Williams and Stewart in the backfield? I know Fox likes to run with a lead blocker but wouldn't the presence of the other running back in the backfield open things up for the other running back. Also, I know this would probably never happen but what about running the wildcat with Steve Smith at quarterback? Everyone talks about how we need to get him the ball more, why not give it to him from the start? Thanks!!

Pat Yasinskas: Interesting idea and I wouldn't rule it out at some point in the future. Not saying it will be an every-down thing, but I could see DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart lining up together at times. Yes, John Fox is pretty traditional. But offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson can be innovative at times and it wouldn't shock me to see the Panthers do that a bit. As for putting Steve Smith in the Wildcat formation, I'll give a similar answer. Might be something to try on rare occasion, but I don't think it's something the Panthers would think about on any sort of regular basis. You don't want to have your best wide receiver get hurt on a running play up the middle.


Casey in parts unknown writes: I have never understood the media's love affair with the Panthers. Jake Delhomme is a very marginal quarterback. Matt Ryan is clearly a better quarterback on film and in every statistical category than Delhomme, and their running game is only a few yards better than ours, though they have a considerable touchdown advantage (only because Norwood has disappeared). Their two main defensive players, Peppers and Beason, are wildly overrated. Even when they lose, they are still ranked high, considerably higher than my Falcons. You know, the team that has outscored the Panthers head-to-head? They are in a one of the smallest markets, much smaller than the Giants, who are also overrated (again, marginal quarterback), so what's the fascination? Am I missing something?

Pat Yasinskas: Wow, this one's a little different than what I get from Carolina fans, who regularly say the national media doesn't give the Panthers enough attention. I'll disagree with you on Jon Beason; I think he's an elite linebacker. Peppers is an elite defensive end, but, at times in his career, hasn't played to his potential. As for Jake Delhomme, the guy has won some big games in his career and he's been around for a long time. Delhomme, Peppers and, most of all, Steve Smith are household names on the national level and Fox is a well-known coach. I don't think Atlanta's been slighted by the national media. The Falcons have gotten a lot of attention with their remarkable season. But Matt Ryan and Michael Turner are relatively new superstars and their reputations are just starting to spread. The attention will only grow as the Falcons head into the playoffs.