Ask the Old Man: It’s almost time for training camp

CHARLOTTE – We did it, gang; we’ve made it through the offseason!

It’s always a bit of a slog to get to the training camp. Sure, it’s good to get away and have some vacation time because the season is long. But it’s a bit of a waste to fill the hours with lists and power rankings and arguments made and people talking about teams that aren’t sure if Greg Olsen and Thomas Davis or Jake Delhomme and Stephen Davis are still playing here.

When we tune in after this weekend, it will be time for the next five months, wall-to-wall football. (Actually, if you’ve been tuning into all offseason, and I know you have, you realize it’s been a few months.)

We would go to camp and see the daily reports of how the quarterback looked, in often-ridiculous detail. We will see how the new offensive line works. We will see if the reconstructed front seven in defense is ready for new challenges. We’ll see if a revamped coaching staff can push this team to a different level after a couple of five-win seasons.

We’ll see how explosive Christian McCaffrey and Brian Burns really are on the field. We will see how accurate and efficient Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold are or not. We’ll see if all these new linemen make a real difference in the offense.

And seeing it changed everything.

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Hi Darin! Going into camp, how do we feel about our run defense? I think if we can stop the run, the defense has a real chance to be elite this season. I think part of the struggle last season was that the offense couldn’t stay on the field consistently, but it was often worrying how often we were beaten on the ground by our opponents. – Shane, Charlotte

I’m starting here on purpose, because we’re going to get all the quarterback talk soon. Like, all the talk.

But this is a big deal for the Panthers.

It’s easy, and not just misleading, to refer to last year’s “second-ranked defense.” That’s a true statistic, as measured by total yards allowed per game. But they’re also 21st in points allowed when things start to leak late, and 18th against the run. That’s second in the league in pass attempts allowed shows that some people don’t bother passing, because running is pretty good enough.

That’s not to say the defense isn’t good. It has the potential to be a force again this year. But they need to fix the run defense. (And Shane is right that a coherent offense would help that too.)

Part of that will be a matter of size. While watching a pair of sub-250-pound pass-rushers chase people around is fun, it also creates some vulnerability. Last year featured some moments where people quickly ran through some running gaps, leaving a hole for the opponent.

If Yetur Gross-Matos can stay on the field and stabilize one end, that will give them an edge against the run, and could help things. A big middle linebacker in Damien Wilson can also help provide some ballast on early downs. The Panthers are still largely built for speed rather than power, but especially if they add defensive tackle to the mix (and they might), being big isn’t a bad deal.

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Greetings from the Southern cheese country. Better known as Ashe County (coolest corner of NC). Exciting times in Panther land today. Not sure if Mayfield or Darnold is the long-term answer at QB for the team, but it will certainly be interesting to see this unfold during camp and the preseason. Hopefully, QB1 on opening day will have a honeymoon of more than three games, like last season’s experience. I’m looking forward to seeing what Matt Corral can do, but I agree with your recent post that this might be the best situation for the rookie from Ole Miss. – Chuck, West Jefferson, NC

Love Ashe County. Get fresh, delicious cheese, while at the same time you can understand what the locals say is delicious.

Again, this quarterback thing will sort itself out on the field in the coming months. May the best man win, and stuff.

Objectively speaking, Mayfield has been the better of the two over the last four seasons. He threw more picks (56) than Darnold (52), but he has more than 200 more pass attempts (1,185-972) and significantly more touchdowns (92-54).

But Darnold has a four-month head start with new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, and that matters too.

Mayfield should be better as a starter. There is reason to believe that it might. But he needs to do that on the practice field and in preseason games.

As for Corral, I think as long as the NFL offense remains different from the prevalent college spread system, all rookie quarterbacks should adapt slowly. If you think Corral has the potential to be good on his way, there’s no point rushing him out before he’s ready to move the team and get out of the huddle and be under center. We’ll still get a chance to see him, but I think having a doctor in front of him is a long-term positive for Corral rather than a negative.

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Darin, thank you for all the information you have given us. Let me ask for one more bit of knowledge if you can wedge it among all the interests in the Baker Mayfield trade. There have been some comments about some having a better chance in a Ben McAdoo style offense. Generally speaking (and in layman’s terms), can you tell the difference between McAdoo’s and Joe Brady’s offensive systems? – James, Rock Hill, SC

That’s a good question James, and I’ll do my best.

At their roots, both McAdoo (working under Mike McCarthy in Green Bay) and Brady (under Sean Payton in New Orleans) come from the West Coast offense tree. In theory, it’s built on quicker, shorter route times than the deeper, vertical passing style associated with Coryell’s Air offense.

But this is another dirty secret. Most of the modern NFL passing game has combined aspects of both, and as the WCO has effectively become the basic offense for most leagues, the differences are not nearly as bright-lined as they once were. The difference seems to be more about what is being emphasized philosophically rather than a specific gaming phone.

Brady is willing to let his quarterback read more coverage and make decisions based on that, while McAdoo asks his guys to walk to the line of scrimmage with a clear idea of ​​where they want to play the ball on first, second, and third down. . Saying he wanted them to be more decisive and get it out sooner would be a reasonable way to describe it. And if they do something, he wants them to take responsibility and be able to explain why. McAdoo puts little on his plate, which is why catching Mayfield will take a lot of work.

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With the unveiling of all-black helmets and allusions to the Dark Side – it only feels appropriate for you to tell us that the two players in the team will, shall we say, embrace the “Dark Side of the Force” the most. If you ask me, something about Jaycee Horn gives me Sith Lord vibes. Bonus points if you identify who will be the master and who will be the apprentice? Is that too nerdy a question for a football writer? Maybe, but I’ve read your Twitter to know you want to respond. – Eric, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Too bookish? Or is that not nerdy enough?

I actually like the idea of ​​Jaycee as the big bad in the Star Wars movie. He’s got a bit of Darth Maul’s intensity in his eyes (and Darth Maul, as you all know, is also coming back from a lower body injury).

I almost wanted to make Phil Snow the master for his apprentice, but Phil has more of a Yoda vibe.

The casting of Brian Burns in the dark side video is perfect, and he embraces the role to the fullest. He’s always been an MCU guy, but I can totally see Brian with the lightsaber and the black cape.

And to give me an excuse to talk Star Wars, I’m making Eric from Canada my Friend Of The Mailbag this week, and he’ll be getting his merchandise soon.

(Speaking of, a shipment went out this week a lot of FsOTM [And they all sound delighted]. If you don’t get it, let me know. Have some strays out there, including Hal from Canada, who never got back to me. . I hope Hal is OK, mostly, because Hal is cool and good.

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Darin, a question that has been on my mind for a long time: Is there a reason why Luke Kuechly isn’t being considered for the Panthers defensive coordinator, assistant, or linebackers coach? His experience and knowledge, I believe, proved to be greater than anything else, just a thought. He is definitely one of the best of all time; in my book, he is the GOAT. Forward Panthers, Continue to Survive. — Kenneth, Stuttgart, Germany

Well, for one, he’s got a new side-hustle as an analyst on the Panthers Radio Network, and he’s going to be great.

But coaching takes a lot of time, and Lukas has had the opportunity to retire. Men who play at a high level (and have the financial ability to have options) often want to find something to do that doesn’t chew up every hour of every day for months.

He said he’s still not sure where his football journey will definitely take him, but I doubt he’ll stray too far from the game. He really knows the material in a way that most don’t. But there are also ways to stay close that still allow for a more distinctive lifestyle.

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Hi Darin! With training camp, and thus many interviews, on the horizon, I’m curious to know who some of your favorite players and coaches have talked to over the years? — Jake, Rochester, NY

Who are the three most likely people to talk to in the locker room this year? Quote-wise, Darnold is cool as a cucumber, and Mayfield seems like he can bring some more pizzazz, but who else should we look forward to hearing from, just from a pure “entertainment” perspective? Also, in Panthers history, who do you think is the greatest quote of all time? – Michael, Durham, NC

Two versions of the same question, because nothing is more interesting than media access.

As a bit of a teaser, I talked to quote-machine John Fox the other day for some things we’ve got coming up. No one has ever been more attractive to words than John. When he feels like it, he is pleasant and approachable and capable of great insight. He wasn’t often liked when the recording equipment was turned on from 2002 to 2010. Also, George Seifert was the most interesting man in the world before the beer ad stole a little. He studied zoology in college, of course.

Mayfield definitely has it in him to entertain, but he’s a little buttoned up at the moment because he’s got a job (and a financial future) to fight for. Darnold, like Fox, often tries to say a little, but low-key funny in a way that many people do not appreciate. Donte Jackson has a lot of things to say and is good at saying them, and Brian Burns is also near the top of the list right now, and JJ Jansen is great at explaining things inside, as long as you have the time.

We have been blessed with interesting quarterbacks here, each in their own way, from Steve Beuerlein to Jake Delhomme to Cam Newton (and Vinny Testaverde!). Defensive tackle Brentson Buckner once said “pressure will make a monkey eat hot chili” and then explained in clear detail why that’s true, so he’s automatically top 10.

I like to talk to offensive linemen in general, and there have been many great ones here over the years. Jordan Rough for sheer volume. Jeno James was a true poet. Kevin Donnaley and Todd Steussie have different interests and are willing to spend their time. Ryan Kalil is smart and funny, but not in the way you describe other people as handsome. (He was also a little sensitive about being labeled an undersized center first, so I once asked him about the challenge of facing a big nose tackle when they hit running 3-4 defenses for like five weeks in a row. When he finally realized I was messing with him, we had a nice chuckle.) I feel like Ikem Ekwonu will someday join this group because he is wise in a way that many 21-year-olds are not.

There are many people I enjoy talking to, but Steve Smith Sr. remains near the top of the pile – 89 is bright and curious, and those are two of my favorite qualities in people. He also holds a grudge, can be small, and will laugh at his own jokes if he thinks he has delivered a great line, and we have been able to find common ground in it over the years.

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Has Matt Corral already signed a contract? – Leigh, Mount Holly NC

Nah, but not necessarily a reason to panic. There are about a dozen or so other options in the league that have yet to be signed. An old football man told me once that a rookie contract was like a boy potty training. We constantly worry about when it will happen, but it always does.

In the past, the first round was the last to be signed, but those days are gone. Now, most offers are made quickly, but they tend to accumulate in numerical order or by position. Heading into this week, three third-round QBs (Desmond Ridder, Malik Willis, and Corral) are all unsigned, though Ridder was done on Tuesday.

There’s no real reason to think the Corral won’t be finished by next Tuesday when the players report to camp, so until then, there’s probably no need to worry.

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Let’s round up the lightning to close out the week:

What do we need to do to make sure Baker Mayfield gets thrown out during Week 1? Is there a petition I need to sign? Senator should I call? Let me know! – Eric, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (with bonus questions)

From your lips to God’s ears (and all the rest of us). I recommend a specific politician, but most seem to buy and pay already.

The face of the Panthers has been on the shelf now for the biggest part of two years. To keep Christian McCaffrey on the field, Ben McAdoo should Deebo Samuel move, 10-12 rushes a game, and a lot of slot receiver action? – Will, Mayberry, NC

The question is quickly approaching “How does David Gettis look in practice?” area. McCaffrey is a running back. He’s been unlucky lately, but I don’t think taking one of the best players in the league at his position and making him play another position is going to fix the problem.

Do you see CMC staying healthy this season and producing like we know he can? I see him being top 3 again in fantasy; what are your thoughts – Richard, Thomson, GA

My crystal ball is in the shop, but I know he’s healthy now, and it’s good to play football (real or not) when he is. I also know that all fantasy questions are best addressed to @panthersbill because he’s great at it.

Where do you like to vacation, and is Aruba your favorite? – Cliff, Charlotte

Way to kill the vibe by reminding me vacation is over, Cliff. That was a real Cliff move.

Have heard good things about Aruba, although they seem to have crappy internet connectivity. There was a friend who seemed to be unable to get rid of it. And this comes from someone who once offered $100 American dollars for an English language newspaper on the fourth day at a resort before Twitter in Mexico. My kingdom is for the New York Times.

Vacation is a state of mind rather than a state on the map. I’ve been having fun long weekends in the mountains and in some smaller markets (Raleigh, Richmond) lately. The key is being with someone who brings you peace. That makes every day a holiday.

And on that note (breathe), we’ll wrap it up for this episode. See you next week from sunny beaches in Spartanburg.

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