Like a long-lost friend, football is back! The Panthers open their pre-season slate tonight, and many questions abound. Can our old friend Muhsin Muhammad fill the black hole that has been #2 WR ever since…Moose left the first time? Is Dwayne Jarrett a complete bust? Is Jeff Otah the last puzzle piece for the OL, or is he just an overrated stiff? Will Julius Peppers be Julius Peppers again? Can Godfrey fill a glaring void at safety? He sure as hell better, after the Panthers passed on DaJuan Morgan in the 3rd round to take him.
Personally, I would have drafted Vandy’s Chris Williams at 13, passed on Stewart (fragile and unnecessary), and not made the trade with Philly. That said, Williams hurt his back in camp and might land on IR – so good thing the Panthers didn’t go that route. And I doubt Fox and Hurley really care too much about next year’s first round pick, since they’ll be job hunting if the Panthers don’t make the playoffs this year.
Round 2 of Steve Smith’s Punch-Out!! resulted in a team-imposed 2 game suspension. Memo to Smith – when you are 5’10″ and 175 pounds in the NFL, it’s probably not a good idea to go around sucker punching people. So, it will be hard to get a read on the passing game early on. But I do expect a very strong performance from Jake Delhomme.
In other QB news, thank God Carolina didn’t bid on marginal QB/drama queen extraordinaire Brett Favre. The collective ass-kissing when the Pats and Jets play this year will be too much for any thinking person to bear. Let’s be even more thankful for the graceful departures of John Elway and Dan Marino – each of whom was twice the QB Favre is (but only 10% the QB that Favre thinks he is).
I am split in my allegiances, as I remain loyal to my pre-Panther era favorite team, the Denver Broncos. When they play (every four years), it has been clear which team “needed” the win more, and that’s who I cheered for. I narrowly avoided a tough call a few years ago, when each team made the conference finals.
NFC: Carolina, Green Bay, Arizona, Dallas, Philadelphia*, Minnesota*
AFC: San Diego, Jacksonville, New England, Pittsburgh, Denver*, Indianapolis*
Super Bowl: New England over Green Bay
* = wildcard
Post your thoughts on the Panthers, your own favorite team, and/or the NFL in general.