I spend a lot of time reading sports pages from other NFL teams' home cities. I've always felt it's good to balance what you read at home and on the national sites with perspective from the other teams' home writers.
It can be very educational, funny, and sometimes eye-opening.
Here's a sample of what you would have read this week if you lived in Charlotte, N.C.:
*Monday: *Under the headline: *Jake did more than pass; he earned an 'A' in opener:
"…if you're a Carolina Panthers fan, you should thank (QB) Delhomme. He played the sort of game Sunday that we didn't see from him the entire 2006 season -- just about perfect." *– Scott Fowler, charlotte.com
My 2 cents: I didn't get to see a replay of this game, but Delhomme definitely had an impressive stat line against the Rams. He was 18-for-27 for 201 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions. He wasn't sacked. That won't work if the Texans expect to win this one.
But it wasn't all Jake. Running backs DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams combined for 159 yards on the ground and nearly a 5 yard per carry average. The Panthers crushed the Rams in time of possession, holding an 8-minute advantage.
Tuesday:Under the headline:*'D' gets an 'A' so far
"…the hammerlock the Panthers' defense threw on the Rams was (impressive), and provided hope in all the areas where they're hoping to improve. The Panthers had the Rams looking out of sorts, particularly in the second half, when they scored a field goal on their first possession and never made another dent.
"One of the new wrinkles on Sunday was the constant movement of (DE Julius) Peppers. He flipped sides, stood up and dropped into coverage often, much of it part of their plan to take away Rams runner Steven Jackson.
"Peppers indicated it was largely about confusing the Rams, giving them something else to worry about…" – **Darin Gantt, heraldonline.com
My 2 cents: Julius Peppers is a freak.
* Wednesday: Under the headline:**Panthers will top 8-8, just barely
"The brief playoff appearance for Carolina at the end of this season (and the Panthers' 9-7 record) will pacify some fans, but the Panthers won't seriously challenge for another Super Bowl appearance.
"Why? Carolina has two slashers, but no bruiser at running back. Its safeties are average. It has a middle linebacker who's had five concussions, and a mediocre offensive line that still can't get people out of the way often enough.
"So why will Carolina win nine games? Because Steve Smith is still Steve Smith and Julius Peppers is still Julius Peppers. Because Kris Jenkins is ready again. Because Delhomme has made a promise to himself that he will have more fun than he did in '06." – **Scott Fowler, charlotte.com
My 2 cents: Panther fans are probably crushing this guy on the radio and in the blogs, but this appears to be a fairly well-reasoned non-homer take from a local. I kind of agree with it, but with four games against Tampa Bay and Atlanta, anything less than nine wins would be a disappointment if I was wearing pastel blue kitty fur to my home games.
Thursday: Under the headline: *David Carr still adjusting to role as backup quarterback
"Carr has heard all of the positive talk about his replacement in Houston, Matt Schaub…
"He's heard how much better off the Texans are with Schaub at the helm. For most guys, that would be like getting jabbed in the gut with a blunt object. But Carr said it no longer matters because he's put his days with the Texans behind him.
"…I had my opportunity down there for five years and we had some fun," Carr said. "But let someone else do it. That's exactly how I feel." - **Steve Reed, gastongazette.com
My 2 cents: Like my mother used to say, if you can't say anything good…. But for the life of me, in my 30 years of watching NFL football, I never heard an NFL QB utter the words "let someone else do it." Eye opening? Not really.
- This just in: The Panthers have much better receivers than the Chiefs. Everyone knows about Steve Smith, but Texans fans will probably be familiar with the names Keary Colbert and Drew Carter after Sunday.
- The Panthers don't have a Larry Johnson, but they do have two very good running backs in Deshaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams. The Panthers have implemented more zone-blocking into their rushing attack this season and Amobi Okoye and Travis Johnson being able to 'hold the point' will be a key to the Texans' success in stopping the run on Sunday.
- Defensive linemen Julius Peppers and Kris Jenkins appear to be at the top of their games. That will undoubtedly be the focus of the Texans' offensive line play this week.
- Rookie Jon Beason was a guy who I was very impressed with as a Hurricane at the U. He is now the starting weakside LB for the Panthers. When Peppers drops into coverage, Schaub and Salaam will need to be aware of zone blitzes and other disguises that bit them at least once against KC. You know the Panthers saw what happened on Schaub's two sacks and there's no doubt they will attack those same spots on Sunday.
- This is the Texans' first trip to Carolina. For the Texans to surprise the odds makers and come out with a win, they will need to get the running game going and protect Schaub. The Panthers' secondary is nothing special and with Andre getting a lot of well deserved attention, it will be up to Kevin Walter, Owen Daniels and Jacoby Jones to make something happen. Getting Ahman Green in a groove early is a must, as is protecting Schaub of course. If they are able to come home 2-0, then that will be the real eye-opener. You can contact Alan Burge at firstname.lastname@example.org