If this was a statement made by someone other than a center, it would be a front page story on ESPN and the NFL Network. But since it was just a statement made by Carolina Panthers starting center Ryan Kalil, it’s been pushed back to page 6. This is why some of you may have absolutely no clue what I’m talking about.
Kalil bought a full page ad in the Charlotte Observer newspaper in North Carolina to make a promise to the suffering fans of the Carolina Panthers. In it, he stated the following.
Now this has generated a lot of debate this morning about whether this was the right thing to do or not. Guys have been making guarantees in sports since Joe Namath was the first to make it popular all the way back in January of 1969. But that was Broadway Joe, the team’s leader and quarterback. If John Schmitt, the team’s center, had made the statement, would it have been blown up as big as it eventually was? Doubtful.
Imagine if Cam Newton had said this, or Steve Smith. You wouldn’t be able to escape from reports on it from everywhere. So, in the end, it probably means nothing. But to think you won’t hear about it all season would be presumptive. Every bad play, every tough loss and eventually the entire 2012 season, someone is going to be throwing this back in Kalil, and the team’s, collective faces.
But what are the chances that he’s right? Personally, I’d say quite slim. It’s impossible to see the future, sure, but there are questions of if this team can even make the playoffs, much less the beg dance. Some would even question if they’re the best team in their division.
Cam Newton had an incredible rookie season that no one saw coming. If they say they did, they’re lying to you and themselves. No one saw him breaking the rookie record for passing yards or for total touchdowns as a rookie quarterback. But even if he is able to duplicate that, has the team improved enough over last season to make a run? It’s always possible.
Teams turn things around quicker in the NFL than any other sport. But there are still a ton of red flags, including arguably playing in the toughest division in the league.
The Falcons, playoff participants last year, only got better by hiring an offensive coordinator who will actually use the many weapons they have on that side of the ball, plus they added Asante Samuel for peanuts.
The Saints, regardless of their off the field issues and suspensions, will always be a threat as long as Drew Brees is slinging the ball around the field. They still have a ton of talent ready to go and they actually got better in a lot of places. Many just didn’t notice due to the Bountygate scandal.
Tampa Bay is still a wild card, as they added some big time free agents and had a good draft. Many expect Josh Freeman to rebound from a down year in 2011 as well.
Where does this leave Carolina? If I had to guess today, I’d say a third place finish in the division and missing out on the playoffs. Sure, that could come back to bite me later on, but if you were asking me to make that call today, that’s it.
Could Cam Newton suffer a sophomore slump? It wouldn’t be the first time it has happened to a quarterback. Lots of guys come in and are unstoppable, and then once teams have good film on them, they stifle what they’re able to do. Newton is good, no doubt, but opposing coaches know what he can do now and they’ll game plan accordingly.
A lot of people say they like the confidence that Kalil showed in making such a guarantee, while others say it was careless. I fall somewhere in the middle. I’m sure the fans love it, but I’m positive the coaches and his teammates hate it. Am I saying it’s impossible? Not even close. I’ve been watching this game for a long time and anything is possible in this league.
But if I were a betting man, I’d take the under on Kalil’s projection.