Were I you, I wouldn’t listen to me. I’m the guy who felt strongly that Georgia Tech would beat Miami. (And the Jackets would have won, I still maintain, had they been playing Miami of Ohio.) So feel free to disregard anything I say. Heck, I’m disregarding, and I’m writing it.
But collectors of MB whiffs have already begun salivating over yet another on the horizon. Last month I picked Carolina to beat the Falcons in Week 2. This was before the Falcons bowed up — coaches are always exhorting their men to “bow up,” whatever that means — and shut down Miami, and also before Jake Delhomme conjured up five more turnovers, bringing his two-game total to 11, which puts him in Favre-land.
Am I changing my pick? Not exactly. But let’s just say I feel less strongly about the Panthers than I did about the Jackets, who lost by 16 points in a game that wasn’t nearly that close. That said, I wouldn’t be true to my high-school debating roots if I couldn’t concoct some sort of scenario in which Carolina might just win. So here goes:
This is a last stand, if not for the Panthers as a team then surely for Delhomme as the No. 1 quarterback. The belief in NFL circles is that there’s nothing physically wrong with him — he’s just psyched out by those turnovers. So Carolina must come here and do as any team with a skittish QB has to do: Lighten his load.
The Panthers will try to run the ball, and the Panthers run pretty well when Delhomme isn’t throwing it to the other team. They can also play a little defense. They’ll try to shorten the game and give their quarterback the chance to work off play-action — play-action works only the running game works — and hope Steve Smith can run past one of those Falcons cornerbacks a time or two.
And maybe the feeling of desperation will turn the Panthers, who didn’t win an exhibition game and who lost at home to Philadelphia by 28 points last week, into something approximating a real team. Maybe this will be their given Sunday to get it right. That said …
If I can figure out the Panther plan, I’m reasonably certain Mike Smith and Brian VanGorder can, too. And Smitty’s defenders pride themselves on stuffing the run. So I guess what I’m saying is …
I’m about to get something else wrong. Story of my life.
(Oh, and for those asking, “Hey, genius — whaddaya think of those Jackets now?” … the answer will be forthcoming in the day’s next post. Were I you, I wouldn’t read that one, either.)