(Views) Walk on the Wild Side: An Open Letter to Jerry Richardson
While I can’t claim credit for the changes ahead, the news of Carolina making adjustments to its offense have been my sentiments for weeks.
I’ve been watching your organization from afar. Like everybody’s Uncle Arthur Blank, you seem like a good guy. You were a calmer, assuring voice of reason during last year’s lockout. Unlike most of your pencil-necked geek peers at owners meetings, you actually played in the NFL. You may have only amassed 15 catches for 171 yards and 4 touchdowns in a one-season career, but you did play with Johnny Unitas on a championship team.
No bad, Jer. Not bad.
Anyway, I’m a fan of your state. My wife and daughter are from there. I got married there. Barring certain issues, It’s one of the more reasonable places in this nation – probably because the average North Carolinian evolved into this kind of laid-back, fair-minded individual after decades of dealing with Jessie Helms. (Quick aside: I may be bashing some right wing nut jobs, but that isn’t to say there aren’t some on the left side of the aisle that have an elevator that doesn’t travel to every floor. I’m just talking about extreme points of view and for the sake of convenience it makes the far right an easy target.)
Trust me, I know. One of my congressional representatives is Paul Broun, Jr., the guy that compared our President of the United States to Hitler. Seriously? I was born 24 years after World World II and I know that you don’t make that comparison. Broun was born in the final months of the war. I don’t know the nature of his malfunction. I just live too close to him.
What I do know is that Broun makes Wally George seem as reasonable as Phil Donahue by comparison. One small consolation is that karma for a guy like Broun typically means he’ll see his career go up in smoke. I’m just hoping his demise is due to some strange predilection. Something along the lines of combining regular visits to “Lingerie Modeling” shops dressed as Captain Kangaroo with a suitcase packed full of pleasure aids.
Best believe I’ll be watching Jon Stewart when that news breaks.
But I digress. I love your state, like your people, and one day I hope that I’ll have a chance to live in either Ashville, Winston-Salem, or Chapel Hill. Naturally, I’d like to become a fan of the home team. There’s just one problem.
You gave the team reins to a bunch of people who are the football equivalent of Paul Broun, a wing-nut with degrees in chemistry and medicine, but has demonstrated as much of a grasp of scientific principles as the constable had over due process during the Salem Witch Trials . Or to make a similar football analogy, an offensive coordinator that pairs a college running game with a pro style passing game.
In case you’re not following me, the mini Paul Brouns within your organization took the duo of Jonathan Stewart and Deangelo Williams and soaked this football equivalent of luscious peanut butter in a vat of apple cider vinegar. There’s a reason why one half of Reese’s winning formula is chocolate. The zone read system is not chocolate for real running backs.
Your staff may as well have buried this duo in an unmarked grave blind folded, shackled, and locked in trunks. If they weren’t on the field, one might look at their production and wonder if the staff was trying to embezzle you out of team funds. I know, I know, don’t remind you, you’re moving forward. You ditched your GM and your staff is integrating pro style concepts like power and zone blocking into your running game. It’s a good start.
But it’s not enough.
Your defense can’t tackle and it’s even worse against the pass. You need to get better in all phases of the game. You need to get tougher. More physical. Hell, you need to skip “back to basics,” and get straight-up prehistoric.
You need Marty Schottenheimer.
I grew up on Schottenheimer when he rode Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack roughshod through the NFL. Byner is one of my all-time favorite players, but Marty could have taken Mike Goodson and Josh Vaughn and made them 1000-yard rushers. By the way, Mike Goodson, your running game’s former third wheel, currently has production on par with Williams and has outperformed Stewart and Mike Tolbert this year – as the Raiders’ backup!
Date Point No.1: A backup on a team that is struggling to run the football has outperformed your trio of backs costing you $7.5 million this year alone. With a current grand total of 98 carries, 354 yards, and 4 touchdowns you’re paying your backs a per yard rate of $21,186.44. Now I’m not a business man, Jer, I just write about them, but that fee seems a little northward of Daniel Snyder, doesn’t it? By the way, what’s your going rate per word for copy writers?
I might be able to afford that craftsman in Asheville after all.
And I almost forgot that you have Mike Tolbert, an angle to this story that is a back-handed tribute to just how inept Rob Chudzinksi’s zone read shotgun system has been in order to reduce Tolbert’s free signing to the same significance as buying an extra pack of locker room towels.
I know, I know, I shouldn’t belabor the point but on behalf of Carolina fans everywhere I need to press on. You own a team that has spent exorbitant amounts on the most versatile fullbacks in the game, one of the best big-play scat backs in the game capable of Jamaal Charles-like production, and a big-time specimen of a runner who should be mentioned in the same breath as Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, and Marshawn Lynch, and I haven’t even mentioned a quarterback built like a brick outhouse and runs like a deer.
Data point No.2: There are 19 backs in the NFL with at least 98 carries alone.
You need to get Marty Schottenheimer. I know it isn’t sexy. The trendy thing is the passing game.. It’s Mr. Giselle Bundchen throwing to the tight end version of Kim Kardashian while a coach that is part Svengali – part recluse in a pizza bagel-stained hoodie grimaces from the sidelines. It’s Gangnam Style
But as Felix Dennis, the publisher who started Maxim and Blender one said about ignoring advertisers and focusing on customers advised them to ignore advertisers — they are merely “guests” — and focus on readers. “They are my bread, my butter, my caviar and my Gulfstream jet. Actually, I always rent the private jets. My rule is, if it flies, floats or fornicates, rent it. It’s cheaper in the long run.”
Good advice. Glad I heard it after my third wedding anniversary!
Ignore the pressure be stylish and focus on substance. If passing is Gangnam Style, running is the Dougie. You can never get enough Dougie.
Schottenheimer’s career regular win-loss percentage is 200-126-1. He built strong teams wherever he went. Yes, he was 5-13 in the playoffs, but how many coaches have even reached the playoffs 18 times? Let that mullet-wearing, attention whore Skip Bayless talk about this on ESPN’s version of The View while Schottenheimer is building a team that no others in the league want to face.
Data Point No.3 There are 24 back with more yards rushing that your trio’s current total.
Data Point No.4: Deangelo Williams had a two-year stint where he accumulated 3006 yards and 27 touchdowns and he’s still healthy and has tread on his tires.
I know that Rob Chudzinski once worked for Schottenheimer in San Diego, but the old man will set the young buck straight. I formation. Two tight ends. Power. Toss. Pin and Pull. Anything but asking Cam Newton to be Robert Griffin III. Newton is fast, but he’s Wiley. E. Coyote to Griffin’s Road Runner. Let Newton use play action, get outside and have some momentum running down hill if he doesn’t have a chance to throw the ball over a defender’s head.
I haven’t even talked about the fact that any mope with fantasy football knowledge knows that Jonathan Stewart has the talent and versatility to get 1500 total yards with his eyes closed. Give Schottenheimer a chance to get his hands on the tools to build the ultimate ground weapon while he still has his faculties.
And I will thank you. Your quarterback will thank you. Your running backs will thank you. Your fullback will do the Dougie.
Footballguys Film Room - Sigmund Bloom reviews every play of three games to give you the underlying storylines and points from beyond the box score that you need to get an edge in your fantasy league at Footballguys.com
Football Outsiders Film Room - Andy Benoit previews the Falcons-Eagles game from a Film Room perspective
The Redzone – A good news site recommended by Lance Zierlein.
Film Study: The Sideline View – Zierlein shows how Blaine Gabbert is still lacking patience in the passing game.
Don’t Give Up on the Run – Alen Dumonjic explains why my rant to Carolina above could pay dividends to the Panthers offense. Okay, maybe not directly, but you’ll see the connection. Good article.
What does it mean when athletes get ‘stem cell therapy’? Media cheerleading is misleadingly legitimizing the booming “stem cell tourism” industry.
Non Football Reads