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Panthers Fan

Carolina Panthers release Chris Ogbonnaya posted by Panthers Fan

Earlier this week, the Carolina Panthers released running back Chris Ogbonnaya, before they take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10.

The Panthers had a slew of injuries at running back and signed Ogbonnaya to help fill out their roster, although Ogbonnaya’s role was merely reserve in nature as he only had 15 touches for a net of 50 yards with one touchdown.

It was clear that he was never going to rise up on the depth chart and was merely a bandage solution until other injuries healed up and returned to active status, and now with DeAngelo Williams fully recovered and back in action, Ogbonnaya became merely extra weight.

On the surface not much will change for the Panthers. Jonathan Stewart has been running the ball well and with purpose and DeAngelo Williams quickly showed he’s back to his old (healthy) self on Thursday night against the Saints with a nice 30 yard run.

However, there is a larger, more pressing problem that the Panthers must address in the off-season, moving forward, if they plan to content for a playoff run. With Stewart and Williams getting older and more injury prone, the Panthers need a long term, and young solution at the running back position. They activated De’Andre Presley from their practice squad, but that again is merely a temporary, “quick fix” solution to bolster their receiver core and return game, where the Panthers also have struggled this season. They will need to invest in a high caliber top draft pick for a franchise running back. This is paramount to their long-term franchise success, even if it means trading picks and mid to lower level roster spots to attain that desired running back. And with the injury prone nature of the league now-a-days, blazing speed is slowly becoming secondary to power backs who can stay healthy.

Continue reading "Carolina Panthers release Chris Ogbonnaya"

Panthers Fan

Can the Carolina Panthers make a run to the Superbowl in 2014? posted by Panthers Fan

The Panthers finished last season with a 12-4 record but would be hard pressed to match the record and even get into the playoffs once again. The team lost a lot of key pieces like wide receivers Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, and Ted Ginn. In their place are Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant which are pedestrian replacements, and first round pick Kelvin Benjamin who would take time to develop.

Quarterback Cam Newton will also have to deal with a depleted offensive line with the retirement of left tackle Jordan Gross. Center Ryan Kalil will be back for the team, though.

The running backs would also suffer with a weak front, and it does not help that DeAngelo Williams turned 31 in April. Williams was good for 4.2 yards per carry last season.

It’s a shame given that Newton is coming off his strongest performance as a pro last year. He had a career high of 61.7 completion percentage and passed for 3,379 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2013, leading the Panthers to an impressive 12-4 record.

The Panthers did not win only because of Newton’s brilliance, but also because of their defense. With an anticipated drop in offense, the Panthers will not have to rely on its defensive unit to win games.

On defense, the Panthers will rely on the leadership of The Kraken, Greg Hardy. One of the best defensive ends in the league, Hardy registered 15 sacks last season. He’ll be back with partner Charles Johnson who registered 11 sacks. They’ll also be giving pointers to young Kony Ealy, another defensive end who could be a starter next season in case Hardy leaves for free agency.  Most recently, Hardy has been involved in domestic violence charges which could distract his play.

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Joe Anello

Joe's 2012 Gameday Review: Bears 23, Panthers 22 posted by Joe Anello

As the game waned into the fourth quarter, I wanted to start writing about a deflating Bears loss… but I held off. (More because of laziness than of hope, but the results are the same.) I’m glad I did, because the Chicago Bears capitalized on late mistakes from the Panthers and pulled out an amazing comeback win by scoring 16 points in the final seven minutes.


(6-1) Chicago Bears 23

(1-6) Carolina Panthers 22

The first half could not have been any uglier for Chicago. Lovie Smith stood on the sidelines and watched as his offense failed to build on any momentum gained from their dynamic first quarter scoring drive. Jay Cutler was sacked six times, fumbled twice, and threw an interception on a deep throw into triple coverage as he forced it to Brandon Marshall near the goal line. Mike Tice’s unit, despite flashes from Matt Forte, couldn’t sustain drives by converting any third downs. It was pretty rough to watch.

Carolina was daring the Bear offense to put short drives together most of the game by squib kicking the ball on every kickoff. They accomplished keeping the ball out of Devin Hester’s hands and the offense never turned those short fields into points. The Bear defense wasn’t outstanding in the first half, with a few plays burning them down the field like the pass to Brandon LaFell. Still, they held Cam Newton’s offense to field goals instead of touchdowns, which kept this game close as the second half drew on.

Continue reading "Joe's 2012 Gameday Review: Bears 23, Panthers 22"

Joe Anello

Joe's 2012 Gameday Preview: Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears posted by Joe Anello

Alright everyone, we’ve got a Bears game at a normal time today! The Chicago Bears are home once again this week as they welcome in the disappointing Carolina Panthers, who are coached by former Bear Ron Rivera. Can the Bears rise to 6-1? Let’s get to the preview!


(1-5) Carolina Panthers at

(5-1) Chicago Bears 

The Offense

The Panther defense is constructed like a team from the 90’s. Their strength is in the linebacking corps with Thomas Davis, James Anderson, and rookie Like Kuechly. That’s where the strengths of this defense really stop. Their secondary is suspect and their line is vastly overpaid, especially end Charles Johnson. While he occasionally gets in the offensive backfield, Johnson is not the kind of player offenses have to scheme around. If the Bears can just chip him every now and again to keep him on the outside of the pocket, I don’t see him causing a raucous.

The Carolina secondary is all-too mediocre, giving up over 245 yards through the air each game. Brandon Marshall is going to have a sizeable advantage over the 5’8” corner Captain Munnerlyn. Munnerlyn is physical, but utterly under-sized. Marshall should be open for Jay Cutler all game long, even with safety help over the top. Matt Forte is in line for another big day as well, even against the Carolina ‘backers. Unless they’ve figured out something special during the week, the Panthers still have a lackluster defense. Chicago should roll.

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Joe Anello

Joe's 2012 Thursday Night Preview: Giants at Panthers posted by Joe Anello

Another Thursday is upon us and with it comes another edition of Thursday Night Football! The NFL Network has an intriguing match-up on display tonight as the defending champs head down to Carolina to take on the hype-machine known as the Panthers. After tonight, one of these teams will be panicky at 1-2.


(1-1) New York Giants at
(1-1) Carolina Panthers

The Giants are going to be awfully short-handed tonight. Receivers Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon won’t be on the field tonight with various injuries, but that leaves Eli Manning with Victor Cruz as the only credible threat. Back-up’s Ramses Barden and Jerrel Jernigan have to make the best of their opportunity to shine. The passing game won’t be the only aspect of the offense affected by injuries though, as starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw is down with a neck injury. How is this offense going to generate points consistently without Bradshaw and Nicks in the line-up? Manning has to find the open men in the flats and slowly pick the Panther defense apart, because he doesn’t have the same level of explosive talent around him. I’d be surprised if Cruz isn’t double-covered every play.

Carolina’s offense is dealing with injury issues of their own, but one of their starts will almost certainly be on the field. Steve Smith is going to tough it out despite a knee injury, giving Cam Newton his veteran target. Running back Jonathan Stewart is less likely to be in action thanks to an ankle problem. But that still leaves DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert to carry the load and get that Giant front four on their heels early and often. I’m not completely sold on Carolina’s offensive line or on Cam Newton’s play as of late, but there should be some running lanes open tonight. Cam will find Greg Olsen when he needs him or else he’ll be handing the ball off.

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Joe Anello

Joe's 2012 NFL Preview: The NFC posted by Joe Anello

I simply cannot wait for football to start. I’m been diving into preseason film, tearing through roster moves, and keeping myself awake at night pondering the possibilities of the 2012 season. Since the season kicks off with the Cowboys and Giants Wednesday night on NBC, let’s get right into my season predictions for the National Football Conference! As a preface, let me just say that this entire process is weird. I’ve looked a decent amount of schedules, but these records (which, when all totaled with the AFC, will equal out correctly) are more akin to indications of how good/crappy I think these teams will be. Let’s break it down!

The NFC East

Last year the NFC East turned into a slaughterhouse, with no team able to break the double-digit win mark. That didn’t stop these teams from making headlines on a daily basis though. With Philly re-charged for another run, a franchise QB finally in D.C., the Cowboys in a pivotal year and the Super Bowl champs looking to repeat, there won’t be any shortage of news in the NFC East. To preface these predictions, this division is a crap-shoot. The only team I’m sure won’t win the East is Washington. Otherwise these teams will just beat up on each other, ensuring that no one breaks away.

Philadelphia Eagles

Last year’s dream turned into something more like a nightmare as Andy Reid’s Eagles failed to meet expectations. Injuries and soft play contributed to their woes, as Michael Vick couldn’t stay on the field (as usual) and DeSean Jackson was worried about his contract situation. LeSean McCoy was a bright spot, but he couldn’t carry this team beyond its mediocre finish. Drafting Fletcher Cox and trading for linebacker DeMeco Ryans should boost second year coordinator Juan Castillo’s defensive unit quite a bit. If they can maintain that pass rush, Philly’s excellent corners will be able to take advantage of their match-up’s and show glimpses of the unit they were supposed to be in 2011. They’re primed to improve, but their over success still depends on Michael Vick’s health.

Continue reading "Joe's 2012 NFL Preview: The NFC"

Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: Week 14, 2011 posted by Joe Anello

After the Big Ben-flavored drama on Thursday night, week 14 in the NFL season keeps on trucking in Sunday’s slate of games. While some will take a first glance at most of the games and shrug them off as meaningless, there are some hidden contests that could be much better than fans may expect. Plenty of options for “Trap of the Week.”

(9-3) Houston Texans at
(7-5) Cincinnati Bengals

Houston’s been running along surprisingly smoothly since the loss of Matt’s Schaub and Leinart. However, T.J. Yates won’t have the home crown behind him as he takes on a desperate Bengal squad this week. I’m not sure the Texans will have enough success on the ground to make up for Andre Johnson’s absence.


(9-3) New Orleans Saints at
(7-5) Tennessee Titans

Boom. Trap it up. New Orleans is on the road after a pretty convincing whupping of the Lions last week. Tennessee is very quietly eking their way into the AFC playoffs with all-around solid team play. New Orleans may be trying to keep pace with the Niners, but they don’t NEED this game like the Titans do. Drew Brees could have one of his famous “Throw for 345 yards, 3 TD’s and 3 INT’s” days, giving the Saints points, but not a win.

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: Week 14, 2011"

Richard Kagan

Bears Win A Wild One, 34-29 vs. Panthers posted by Richard Kagan

The Chicago Bears did a lot of things right this past Sunday and got by the Cam Newton led Panthers 34-29 at a celebratory Soldier Field.  Devin Hester returned a punt for a touchdown, broke off a 74 return on a kickoff and is the only Bear that approximates the great Gayle Sayers.  The Bears scored a TD on an interception.  And, Matt Forte ran a career best 205 yards after gaining two yards last week.  Forte still has it. The Bears need to open lanes for him just like today, and then he can scoot up the field. He is versatile and fast, and is a threat to break a long gain.

It's the defense one needs to be concerned with.  It gave up over 500 years to the sensational rookie QB Cam Newton led offense.  Netwon threw for 181 yards to receiver Steve Smith.  The Bears need to tighten up their defense quickly.  They are going into Detriot to face the upstart Lions, who are undefeated this season. 

But the Bears have great weapons in Hester, Forte, and Cutler.  Cutler had an off day, only throwing for 100 yards.

And the Bears won?  Yes, because they made enough big plays and the Panthers didn't.  Hester is a game-changer.

He can negate negative yardage or an off-day by anyone on the Bears.  Forte, came through on the sunny day.  When Matt Forte is clicking, the Bears are usually in the game.  Now, the defense has to pay at least like the Panthers of the Midway.  You can't be Monsters overnight.  However, Forte, went from almost being laughable last week, to a career day, playing like Walter Payton once did.  Chicago is 2-2 in the season. 

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Joe Anello

Joe's 2011 Gameday Recap: Bears 34, Panthers 29 posted by Joe Anello

Well it was way too close for comfort, but I’ll take it. The Chicago Bears got help in the form of Devin Hester and D.J. Moore touchdowns to beat the Carolina Panthers 34-29 Sunday afternoon.


(2-2) Chicago Bears 34
(1-3) Carolina Panthers 29

The first series of the game was indicative of Mike Martz’s overall gameplan, running it eight straight times down to the Panther 1-yard line, where they were forced to settle for a field goal to tie the game. Despite the shortcoming, Martz had established and found success in the running game, which they carried throughout the day and racked up 224 yards as a team. Matt Forte tore up the sod on his way to 205 yards rushing on 25 carries, including a 46 yard run to set up the Bears’ first field goal as well as 17-yard score in the second quarter. Marion Barber even got in on the fun in limited action, getting four carries, the last of which was the game-sealing touchdown with under two minutes left in the contest.

In addition to the ground game, Devin Hester sparked the Bears with two dynamic returns, the first of which went for 73 yards all the way back to the Carolina 36 yard line, leading to Forte’s first score. After forcing a three and out on the Panthers’ next drive, Hester got another chance on a punt return and made the most of it, taking it back 69 yards for an NFL record 11th punt return touchdown. Not to be overshadowed, the Bears field goal unit came up huge with a block that kept the Bears ahead. Of course, Charles Tillman got a hand on the kick and then Julius Peppers finished it off with his giant paw.

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Joe Anello

Joe's 2011 Gameday Preview: Panthers at Bears posted by Joe Anello

This week Chicago welcomes in former player and defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, who now coaches for the Carolina Panthers. Rivera brings with him number one overall pick Cam Newton, who has taken the league by storm. (Sorta.) Let’s see if the Bears have what it takes to put the Panthers down.

(1-2) Carolina Panthers at
(1-2) Chicago Bears

So any football fan has heard of Cam Newton for one reason or another. The reason you’re hearing about him now? His two 400 yard performances (in losing efforts) to begin the year followed by his first win as a starting QB. With a bit more film out there for teams to scout, Newton will start to see defenses wise up to his tendencies, even if they can’t plan to combat his immense abilities. Also, the dude’s pretty big. He’s essentially a quarterback in a defensive end’s body. Chicago will rely heavily on its cover-two scheme, expecting Newton to make a mistake or two along the way that will lead to turnovers.

Despite Newton’s talent, his receiving corps pretty much starts and ends with the ever-douchey Steve Smith. Smith is rejuvenated this season because he actually has a QB that can get him the ball. Chicago’s secondary needs to keep Smith covered up top with a safety and underneath the entire game just to make sure he doesn’t get any good looks. He’s a bit fast for Tillman to be on him all day, so you’ll probably see some of Tim Jennings on him too. Where Newton will probably have success is in tossing it to his tight ends. Jeremy Shockey and familiar face Greg Olsen have been making life much easier on the rookie. As we all know, Olsen is a redzone threat. While I’m SURE today has no significant meaning to him (not that the Bears traded him, thinking he was useless to them), Olsen warrants watching.

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