First, there are no photos except the cover picture for a reason. I can't wake up and log on to my computer without seeing a long list of hate mail because I don't think Christian McCaffrey is the top RB in this class. He's second. We had the eighth pick. The top RB on my list AND DAVE GETTLEMAN'S was gone. Waah.
I realize the Panthers decided to "evolve" their offense. Their identity was that of a power running scheme until this week. The top two selections proved the team brass wasn't lying when they nabbed a pair of 200 pound running backs in The Holy Terror and in Pest Wild.
One CAN be a "fan" of a Particular Player without being a "Hater"
The two concepts are mutually exclusive, folks. Before the Carolina Panthers even existed, I was a Miami Dolphins fan. I was a fan of theirs going back to the "Perfect Season" days (I was five years old -- Dad was a huge Miami fan) so I have seen a bunch of players come and go. Dan Marino was my favorite player, but Barry Sanders was my favorite running back to watch play.
No, this does not make me some sort of "Hater of Tony Nathan." In fact, no rational person would say that Tony Nathan was more fun to watch play than Barry Sanders. It was what it was.
The same thing goes for Leonard Fournette and Christian ("The Holy Terror") McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel ("Pest Wild"). I went to school with Bo Jackson and Leonard Fournette is the closest thing to hit the NFL since then, no exclusions. I've been watching Fournette since his Freshman year at LSU, and he makes me feel like Bo did when he got the ball....I get a slight feeling of butterflies in my stomach when he takes the handoff, hold my breath for a moment, and watch intently until the play is over.
The thing is, both Bo and Leo had/have the ability to score from anywhere on the field and Fournette's the most exciting runner to me since then. My being a fan of watching superior athletes playing has absolutely nothing to do with team allegiances. Fournette went to a bottom-dwelling AFC team that will impact the Panthers 0.0% in each and every playoff game they play UNLESS BOTH TEAMS REACH THE SUPER BOWL IN THE SAME SEASON.
I'm a Fan of the Game, Folks
There's little doubt Fournette will put fans in the stands in Jacksonville as well as defenses in the AFC South on notice that Jacksonville has a new backfield in town, and others better get ready for him as they took somewhat "suddenly loved by Carolina fans" Cam Robinson to block for him.
We ALL know Dave Gettleman doesn't like players with off-field issues and many fans were clamoring to get him at 40. Fine, whatever; but please be consistent. These sudden changes of heart by some had me wondering but I wasn't labeling them "turncoats" for their 180-degree turns on him. I certainly didn't call any of YOU "haters for loving Cam Robinson" when we took Taylor Moton, until about 15 seconds ago while replying (sarcastically) to a tweet.
I like seeing a high-level of play, period.
There is More than One way to "Evolve"
...Or did all of you miss your high school social studies classes? Ever hear of Neanderthals, Australopithecus, and Cro-Magnon Man? They are all different evolutionary arms of Homo Sapiens. In fact, YOU, the reader, STILL HAVE some Neanderthal genes in you. Red hair (Andy Dalton, for example) is originally a Neanderthal gene as far as I understand it. These days, you can have your genes analyzed and get a report that breaks it all down.
Same thing in football - there's more than one way to skin a defense, if you're good at what you do.
My own thoughts about Fournette were that since NFL defenses are getting lighter and faster, well, develop an offense that takes advantage of their weaknesses - power. Pretty straightforward idea, but LF wasn't there at pick 8 and trading up would have cost too much for Gettleman to pull off. I get it. Gettleman took the best RB available, and in my mind at 8, it was undoubtedly Christian McCaffrey.
Even Dave Gettelman himself said Fournette was number one on his draft board if I didn't misunderstand things. The cost to get him was too high for DG to pay. Fine; life goes on.
That said, I think McCaffrey can bring a lot to this offense. The only weakness I see is his short-yardage, pile-moving ability, At 200 pounds and bench-pressing only 10 reps, he's physically not very strong. He and Fournette couldn't have different strengths, although I still say Fournette's hands are vastly under-rated. Remember, Fournette did his damage behind C Ethan Pocic and 4 bums. His QB was horrible, and one WR got drafted. There are circumstances involved, and blanket statements about one opponent vs an entire college career are simply non-sequitur. It doesn't stop random Twitterers from trying, however.
Doubling-down on a power run scheme would have made the Carolina Panthers an Odd Cat indeed, and uniquely suited to stymie opposing defenses ill-equipped to stop such a powerful running attack. "Lighter and faster" is the scissors to the "bigger, faster, and stronger" rock. Rock smashes scissors. That was my idea. DG had others. And guys and gals, if you take nothing else away from this article, please note the next sentence:
I AM FINE WITH IT.
As for the 'Bama games, well, if you look at the (lack of) blocking done by the LSU offensive line, I doubt anyone could say CMC would have done better had he been on that LSU team instead of Fournette.
Yes, offensive lines matter, and McCaffrey had the luxury in college of playing behind one of the best. Fournette played behind one of the worst.
Can I not still like Fournette? I really don't understand the hate coming from so many people on this. Yes, I still think Fournette's the better running back; it's very likely why DG had him at the top of his Big Board and why he was the first RB off the NFL Draft Board too.
However, I've ALWAYS been blunt and call 'em like I see 'em. The jersey a player wears won't change that. Just because we got the second-best RB prospect instead of the top-rated one won't make me have some "change of heart" and say things I don't believe simply because "CMC is a Panther." It doesn't work that way for me. If it does for YOU, you're not being honest with yourselves, I suppose. Either way, it's not my problem.
I want the Holy Terror to DOMINATE
THIS is where "fandom" enters the picture. BECAUSE McCaffrey IS OUR GUY, I WANT HIM TO TRASH ALL DEFENSES! I WANT him to "show up" Fournette, Zeke Elliott, and anyone else he faces as a counterpart on the enemy sidelines.
I would love nothing more than to see "CMC" break the all-time NFL record for total yards as a rookie. I'd love to see him get 250 carries and as many receptions as the offense asks him to make. I want him to be the NFL's OROY and see him make the Pro Bowl at two positons....RB and as the return specialist. I want opposing DCs to wet their pants when they see Cam, the Holy Terror, and Pest Wild (Samuel) on the field at the same time. I'd like to see Pest Wild and the Holy Terror be 1-2/2-1 in the OROY voting.
I hope Mike Shula will quiet the cynics (and be honest - there are MANY of you out there) and ADAPT HIS OFFENSE to suit the strengths of the new players coming in. Biggest shocker of all perhaps? The fact is that I think he can do it and that he WILL do it. The guy was the starting QB at Alabama during his college days and has been a coach forever....he has the knowledge to do so.
If I'm still a "CMC HATER," so be it
However, those of you who continue to want to label me as such have already made me come to a realization I should have known to be true before, but was too biased to actually admit it: Carolina Panthers fans, as a group, are no "better" (and no worse, too) than fans of any other given team. With such a large group of millions of Americans included, it simply means Panthers fans are just another cross-section of America. We're not "better" than other fans as some would have you think. We're just another group among the thirty-one other groups. That's all.
PEOPLE are DEVOLVING
The continued labeling of me and name-calling won't accomplish anything other than to raise my ire at being labeled, put in a box, and minimized. I thought we were done with that with the election, but the NFL Draft is about as apolitical a thing as can exist. I really don't think DG nor any other GM said "I like the kid's ability, but he's a Republican. Who's next?" Or whatever.
It wasn't that long ago that Bill Clinton called illegal immigration a problem. Nobody called him a racist. Now, if you disagree with someone and that someone has issues of their own of some sort, they're incapable of having a calm, rational discussion of the issues. They sling mud, instead. Some CAN speak calmly and rationally on the subject. I'm just amazed at how many are unable to do so. Apparently, election ire, the outright attacks springing up from the alleged "birthplace of free speech" -- Berkeley, CA -- are just the beginning of a new, worse era of American history where intolerance is and has been growing at a truly exponential pace in the space of less than even one generation of Americans. Still others are allowing themselves to be sucked into the phenomenon and are carrying their destructive baggage into other areas of life, alienating themselves from strangers and friends alike. Gee, that's a tough way to go through life....I found out the hard way "enemies" can and do COME LOOKING FOR YOU without your wanting to make them. It takes all parties involved to be at peace and only one to start a war. Conflict is the default state of Humanity as a result. Panthers fans aren't immune and therefore are just like all the other fan bases. It's a fact.
The fact that DG drafted CMC and not LF does NOT change my opinion of either one's ability one iota; it shouldn't change yours either. If it does, you're not being honest with yourselves. It's not as if they both woke up last Friday with Leo's or Christian's abilities stolen or augmented, respectively, is it?
So why should I change my opinion? And why is my NOT doing so making me a "hater?"
I'd love to see BOTH kids succeed, and Dave Gettleman AND I BOTH had Leonard Fournette at the top of our wishlists, so if you're gonna hate on me, you HAVE to "hate on Dave Gettleman" EVERY BIT AS MUCH, or you're again not being honest with yourselves.
That would be YOUR character flaw. Not mine.