Thursday, November 27, 2008

Week 12: Ugh. Are the Panthers as not good as everyone else thinks?

Brethren: Some teams have already played their Week 13 games, so it's high time we talk about Week 12 and the Carolina Panthers' disgusting loss on the road to Atlanta. It's Thanksgiving week and thus, I am overly fed and weary from travels, but here are some random thoughts from Week 12 leading into Week 13:

- This slow start shit has got to stop. Zero positive yards in the first quarter. Three-and-outs galore. A 17-0 hole. The Panthers do it too often and it finally bit them in the ass.

- John Fox's bottom line approach is tantalizing for bloggers like ourselves. The man only judges the team's individual aspects on whether we've won or lost. Passing game sucks? Well it's good enough to be 8-3. Run defense been terrible recently? It's been good 8 weeks and not good enough for 3 weeks. Players not as prepared for the game? They've been well prepared 8 times and not as well prepared 3 times. Every aspect of the game is "something we'll evaluate" and has been up to snuff 8 times and not up to snuff 3 times.

It's frustrating because as someone who analyzes and overanalyzes every cotdamn Panthers game, I'm seeking answers. And John Fox won't have it. Which is probably good for the team, but it leaves me to do nothing but jump to wild conclusions. I'm sure John Fox loves me.

- Fucking Falcons. They bite us at least once a year. It's annoying.

- I haven't felt comfortable about this team since mid-October. Last Sunday was the first significant Sunday in a while -- we had a bye then two games against the Raiders and Lions -- and quite simply, the Panthers shat the bed. Methinks we're giving the rest of the world a lot of evidence to support the "Panthers aren't that good" theory. I, for one, am still believing. So much so that I recently had a very vivid dream about how the Panthers won the Super Bowl. It felt real. I woke up salivating, knowing that's how it could feel when the day happens.

But still...the Panthers need to get a lot better. Put ourselves in the position to do some damage in the playoffs and we'll go from there. Nacho's thoughts if he ever gets out of a food coma, desde

Nacho: I woke up sad today. Not because my favorite holiday was over. Not because the blogosphere seems to be taking it easy today. No, I woke up sad because the first clear thought through my mind this morning was "There's still two more days until football." Sure, the Iron Bowl's this weekend, but with each passing year my tenuous love of college football wanes. It's because of the bowl system.

Anyway, usually Fridays and Saturdays are pretty packed with work and whatever weekend obligations I have. It keeps my mind off the fact that football's still two days away. Now I'm facing a forty-eight hour stretch without football and even less to occupy my mind. I will, inevitably, overthink this weekend's match up against the Packers. This probably doesn't end. I get a distinct feeling I will memorize "Tropic Thunder", or make just wantonly spend hours on Bodog.

So bear with the Brethren; we're going to be filled with various meats and side items throughout the weekend, and we'll be more prompt in our posting, if for no other reason than it'll give us some peace and quiet.

Happy Turkey Weekend, urrbody!
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Week 11: In Which Sports Illustrated Angers the Sports Brethren

Brethren: Week 11 brought the winless and hapless Detroit Lions to Charlotte (and one special guest to our press box) -- and with the winless Lions came the expectation of a Carolina Panthers blow-out. That didn't quite happen, but the Panthers still came out victorious behind a banner day from the Smash And Dash duo of Jonathan Stewart (15 carries, 130 yards, 1 TD) and DeAngelo Williams (14 carries, 120 yards, 2 TDs) and another beastly day from Julius Peppers, Jon BEASTon, and Thomas Davis. Jake Delhomme and the passing game was still a bit underwhelming, but in the end of the day, we didn't need an A+ game to defeat the Lions.

And that's why I'm not too terribly concerned that the past two weeks, the Panthers have played the two worst teams in the NFL and not looked convincingly great. Sometimes the sign of a good team in the NFL is that even on their off days, they win. The Panthers have played 10 games, and come out on the right side of those 8 times. Only two teams have won more games than the Panthers and 29 haven't.

So what does Sports Illustrated, the national magazine who employs some of the most renowned football minds, think of the Panthers? Let's check out the King of the SI Court:

FUCKING NINTH?? Holy shit, you Favrerian cumguzzler! Yes, yes, we'll get to that.

Maybe the Playoff Picture will be kinder?


Anger personified with Nacho Friendly, desde:

Nacho: Thanks, Seth & Amy, but the Nacho's got this one.

Really, Sports Illustrated? Really?

Both your play-off predictor/goomba Dom Bonvissuto and world-renown Peter King think the Panthers won't see post season play. You looked over your sheet of paper that showed the teams ranked from top to bottom based on their current record, you saw the Panthers sitting there at number three after watching two weeks of admittedly shitty football, and you thought "nope"? Really?

You fellas took some pretty selective ganders at the upcoming schedule, didn't you? Saw a bunch of tough teams and a lot of away games for Carolina and wrote 'em off. Brethren and I both agree Carolina plays proportionally to the talent of their opponent, which would make complete sense for the past 2 weeks and the upcoming four. Peter King completely dismisses the fact that the Dolphins upcoming games include the 49ers, Chiefs, Rams and Bills. Dom thinks the Saints are gonna come out of South. That's some maverick action right there. Did we all just fucking forget about the Bucs defense?


Here's an idea: watch more fucking football. Think maybe not just drawing conclusions from highlights on The Blitz could do you some good? Step it up, Sports Illustrated, because I want desperately to agree with Nate Silver.

There is a silver lining and that is this: The Panthers always play better with chips on their shoulders. We're best off under the radar, and it would appear that the Main Stream Media has agreed to allow just that. I'd spew more vitriol, but honestly it's not worth my creativity. Let 'em keep thinking we're not hitting our peak at the exact moment the Giants did last year. Part of the problem of employing middle aged people and calling them the best in their fields is that occasionally they'll shit the bed. This would appear to be one of those time.

Onward, to embarrass the Rookie of the Year.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Week 10: Good Thing the Raiders Suck

Brethren: Dear Lord, I have never felt worse after a game the Carolina Panthers won by 11 points. So while John Fox can tell me that in the NFL, a win's a win's a win, beating a gawd-awful Oakland Raiders team 17-6 to move to 7-2 didn't inspire great confidence in me. The offense looked so out of synch and Jake looked so terrible that we needed a banner day from the defense to beat a 2-6 Raiders team.

Luckily, Peppers brought the noise and the funk, the secondary proved it's on its way to being the best the Panthers have ever had, and BeasTon and Davis were flying around the ball like they are wont to do.

So while it was a great performance from the Panthers D, it was against a terrible Raider offense that looked even more pathetic than Bill Simmons trying to do the first-person narratives Big Daddy Drew made famous. DeAngelo made good on his promise to never be run-down and his 140 yards were another great game on his way to 1,000-yard season. But Jeebus did Jake look terrible: a 12.3 QB rating, completing 0 passes in the second half, and connecting on 7 passes to his team while connecting on 4 with the other team.

At the end of the day though, it won't matter as long as Jake can bounce back -- and there are many a good game this season to make me believe Sunday was just an aberration. The Panthers are at a quiet 7-2, and flying just enough under the radar despite having the 3rd-best record in the NFL.

Nacho was at the game, and some more patented bulleted thoughts, desde:

Brethren (cont'd): The patented bulleted thoughts:

- Sunday's game was quite a display of horrific offense, but there was something extraordinary that happened: in the second quarter, after DeAngelo's awesome long-distance touchdown gallop, I got the following text from my good friend Eugene, "Smash and dash according to urban dictionary: to have sex with a girl and then leave immediately...amazing." While appreciating the lesson in what the kids are saying these days, since I didn't have sound to the game at the bar, I wasn't clued in: apparently the FOX announcing team had nicknamed Panthers RBs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, "Smash and Dash," and used the phrase frequently during the game.

Now that's just awesome announcing. I can get behind any nicknames that also double as vernacular sex phrases. Who in the NFL is the Cleveland Steamer? Who's the Blumpkin? The Rusty Trombone? I need someone far cleverer than me to answer these questions.

I'm just glad the Panthers got the Smash and Dash -- a move quite frequently cheered on by me and my buddies and a running back tandem quite frequently cheered on by us as well.

- Ugh, that was such a gross game that you're only getting one patented bulleted thought. Let's beat Detroit next weekend, move on to 8-2, and see how we stack up for the last 6 weeks.

Nacho: The easiest way to break down the past week of my life is with the tried and true Good, Bad, Ugly rankings. Without further ado....

the Good: It breaks my heart into a million little pieces to think of the photos that could've accompanied this post. Like the one with me and Buzz "Shorty" Bizzinger. Or the historic meeting of Big Daddy Drew and the SportsBrethren. Or the countless Jowlers from Friday night (Brethren's got a cache of them and will be posting shortly.) Allah in Heaven, those photos would've been epic. My travels from LA to NYC to Oakland brought me such great joy.

Sports peppered themselves throughout my weekend walkabout: from the Varsity Letters presentation, and having the Godfather recognize me, despite my pedo-stache. To the glorious $15 all-you-can-drink brunch on Saturday morning. It was my first time visiting Brethren since he graduated college, and my first time the Big Apple sans parents. Suffice to say, we stayed up past our bed time. In Summation: the first three days of my trip were some of the happiest times of my life.

The Bad: During the four hours my car sat parked outside MacAfee Stadium in Oakland on Sunday thieves made off with my camera and my best friend's laptop. This put a rather large damper on the whole experience. Raider Nation was surprisingly not hostile; the weather was gorgeous, the stadium was adequate...But that town can burn to the fucking ground and I wouldn't shed two tears. It's filled with the worst scum of the world and for the record: None in our party was wearing visible Panthers apparel, at no point did we taunt or talk trash. We were as docile as hindu cows. We respected the fabled hatred and did nothing to call attention to ourselves, and still the Shithole That Is Oakland struck like a fiend in the night. I doubt I'll ever go to Oakland again, and it's probably for the best.

The Ugly:Anyone else watch that game? Oof. Watching Jake Delhomme pass would've made me physically ill, were it not for the power and the glory that is Jose Cuervo Margarita Shakers. Two per quarter is a healthy pace. It speaks volumes that when we all herded down to smoking section, and the usher for our section politely said "thanks for coming out" as if we were leaving for the day. We all realized when we returned to our seats that, indeed, most Raider fans leave at halftime. It was adorable in a really, really sad way.

Jake Delhomme can try and have another game as bad as that, but I doubt he'd live to see the post-game press conference. That was damn near unforgivable. As a wiser man than myself once said, "that's one."

Two last notes: it's nice to see Peppers step things up, albeit against Oakland, that's not terribly difficult to do. And lastly: there's a chance Duante Culpeper will be a smarter QB than Marques Tuiasosopo, so, y' ready.

Onward now to another mockingly mighty foe: the winless Detroit Lions. I guarantee if we play like we did yesterday, they will beat us. C'mon Cats, lets not fuck this one up too bad.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Week 9: The Lovely Bye Week

Brethren: With the Carolina Panthers sitting Week 9 of the 2008 NFL Season out with a bye, I took advantage and headed South to return to the glorious place of Charlottesville, Virginia, for UVA’s Homecoming weekend. I went to Homecoming last year and saw an underrated ‘Hoos team take down a spunky UConn team, and while Homecoming is a good a weekend as ever to watch Virginia play football; this year, I couldn’t get a ticket to actually go inside the stadium to watch the game.

Not being able to “get” a ticket is a little misleading, though, I suppose. In reality, I was in Charlottesville to party in FantasyLand, reunite with some good friends, and attend the various glorious tailgates that define a Saturday in Virginia. It had been far too long, with watching too many football games in New York City bars, and college football and all its pageantry is meant to be experienced in live and living color.

And it was Halloween on Friday. I had to play my part as Jimmy Hart, the Mouth of the South, as about 15 brothers of my fraternity class were attending the party as Early 90s WWF/WCW wrestlers. Mullets, face paint, outrageous facial hair, and neon were on display, and the Cap’t and Mammy even made an appearance at the party. Grand times all around.

Oh, and those ever-strengthening Florida Gators exacted their fullest revenge on the dastardly Bulldawgs of Georgia in the World’s Largest Cocktail party. The Gators seem quite likely to play in Atlanta for the SEC Championship, and for all the talk of the Big 12 this year, I refuse to believe any team that wins the SEC shouldn’t have a shot at the national title.

Perhaps a response to the Bobcats preview, desde:

Brethren (cont’d): Sorry I missed out on the Bobcats season preview from Nacho this past week, so here are some quick thoughts as we’re sitting at 1-2 after the first three games:

- Nacho hates Larry Brown; thinks he’s too old-school and the wrong fit for this team. He claims he won’t play the young-ins, to which I would like to respond: who on this team isn’t considered a “young-in”? Our Big 4 veterans, J-Rich, Mek, RayRay, GForce, have never reached an All-Star game collectively, and are all relatively young. They certainly all seem like they could all benefit from someone who can teach the game of basketball. Worried LB won’t play Jared Dudley? He’s already spot-starting over a woefully out of shape Sean May. Worried he won’t play Morrison? The Great Mustachio is somewhat resembling the scorer he was in college at Gonzaga – which may be just enough to get some trade value out him and try to find some frontcourt help. Who else is there that’s young and not being played?

- To your point about the draft: it isn’t LB making those decisions – that’d be Mr. Jordan. Yes, LB may have loudly stated he needs more talent at point guard and veered us away from a Brook Lopez with the 9th pick, but that’s because he understands that, especially in today’s game, having steady field generals to lead a team is the only way you can compete if you don’t have a mega-star. There’s a reason the same Pistons team LB turned into a Championship team hasn’t made it past the Eastern Conference Finals since he left.

- Hustle, defense, and moving the ball to find open shooters is the only way this team is going to overcome its very obvious deficiencies in the front court. Mek is a fine power forward/center – but isn’t and probably never will be at an elite frontcourt player. Sean May is woefully out of basketball shape. Nazr Mohammad, Ryan Hollins, and the Frenchie aren’t worth much more than the 6 fouls they each represent. It’s a woeful frontcourt, which means the GForce at the 4 Experiment may continue, much to all of our chagrins.

The thing is, who’s better at getting players to hustle, play defense, and move the ball than Larry Brown?

Yes, this roster isn’t going to wow you on paper. But if J-Rich can continue his solid play from the second-half of last season, LB finds ways to unleash the athleticism of GForce, and Ray-Ray steps it up, we have the makings of a team that can maximize its scrappy play and steal some ballgames on nights where we don’t expect it. It’s far from Championship Basketball, but it’s the best shot we have at turning around the MJ Era.

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