As I pound this latest rant, I realize that through this season of success I have a similar problem as I had when we went through the valleys of dismay Post-2009 – how many times could I write, “WE SUCK”, and “FIRE JOHN FOX-HURNEY” and “PEPPERS HAS TO GO”, and plumb the depths of your dissatisfaction and at least make you feel like your angst had a legion of allies and supporters – Now, I’m finding quite a similar situation coming up the same way, week after week, win after win –
How many times can I write about how UTTLERLY F**CKING AWESOME it is to watch, tune in, read about, listen to radio chatter concerning THE CAROLINA PANTHERS OF 2013??!!! Of all of the superlatives and hyperbole I could possibly muster out of my expansive vocabulary, could I piece together something you, dear reader, would find interesting and enlightening? Could I take tackle after tackle, score after score, and make an epic storylog that would prime you for more Pantherfandom?
As Lauren and I sat in the stadium Monday night, after a buzz not achieved in our lot in many a year, I considered all of the witty titling I could give a rant after our sixth consecutive win – But much like last week, all that my mind could process was simple verbiage betraying my almost limitless ability to colourize in word, any possible subject –
“BIG BOY FOOTBALL” –
Ok, so I think you, me, every casual fan and every feverent gridiron-poisoned fan, every talking head on every sports network can agree, that The Carolina Panthers are playing “BIG BOY FOOTBALL”. So, with that said, I would say, that if you are a young man playing football, on the high school level, a blue-chipper playing at a 4A organization, I think you would likely be playing “BIG BOY FOOTBALL”. And like that “HELLO…………………!!!” commercial some telecommunications company aired last year, you’ve got Bob Stoops coming to speak that repeated salutation to you, and before you know it, you are an All-American playing at a Division One school with a chance at glory on a national level. And NFL scouts are looking at you play – “BIG BOY FOOTBALL”… And then you hear your name, possibly on the first day of the NFL Draft at the Music City Hall, and you will now get paid to play – “BIG BOY FOOTBALL”
So – if we take the description, and determine that all 32 teams in the NFL play “BIG BOY FOOTBALL” –
We would be in error.
In my opinion, “BIG BOY FOOTBALL” looks something like this –
It starts with a coaching philosophy. A determination to use the athletes in your organization to execute your vision in “x’s and o’s, and succeeding. A supporting front office that provides this coaching staff with the college athletes and free agents it needs to continue and cycle the process.
Bill Belli-cheat is a good example of a coach that gets it. His New England-gland Pastry-Rots PLAY BIG BOY FOOTBALL. Year after year. Pete Carroll is another. So is Sean Peyton.
The players are all bought into the system, both offensively and defensively. There’s no self-serving desire for records, for individual milestones for petty bickering about who gets the ball, who starts, who sits who gets the points – all there is, is the singular vision of success, the way the coaching staff builds it in practice. All of the acclaim, the records, the stats, comes as a result of the process. Of course, it all sounds utopian, because there IS a strong sense of pride in every athlete at this level – it’s displayed in various ways, from the boisterous howling of Ray Lewis, to the intense and cerebral mannerisms of Peyton Manning. They all want to win – and the way that these athletes join from OTA’s through training camp, to the end of the regular season and beyond, form the very definition of the word – TEAM as we use it to describe clubs in the NFL. The offense of a “BIG BOY FOOTBALL” team is a system that consistently runs to game plan, and is capable of adjusting to game conditions in REAL TIME.
Note that last part of that last sentence. It will be an important part later in my rant.
The defense of a “BIG BOY FOOTBALL” team is one that controls the game, snap to snap. It is able to limit yards, points, and consistently gets possession BACK to the offense. It is staffed by athletes of the highest level of performance, who never, ever, stop until the whistle blows.
As I said before, The Pastry-Rots play “BIG BOY FOOTBALL” – The Saints play “BIG BOY FOOTBALL”.
The Pissburgh Squeelers no longer are capable of “BIG BOY FOOTBALL” –
The Detroit Lions are beginning to grasp it – but are not there yet. Same for the Bungles. The Phoney- Niners play “BIG BOY FOOTBALL”. And believe it or not, it’s coming back to the Noo Yawk Gi-AINTS. Jon Beason has the HEART of “BIG BOY FOOTBALL”. He makes a difference in that defense now.
The Duckies NEVER played “BIG BOY FOOTBALL”. NEVER.
The Green Bay Packers do NOT play "BIG BOY FOOTBALL". One player CANNOT make that big of a difference on a "BIG BOY FOOTBALL" team. Billi-Cheat lost Tommy Terrific and STILL won 10 games with Matty Cassel who now stinks it up for another team that DOES NOT play "BIG BOY FOOTBALL". If you cut your greasy hair, Clay Matthews, and quit doing those INANELY STOOPID FatHead commericials, you MIGHT sniff a TENTH of Luke Keuchley's "BIG BOY FOOTBALL" quotient.
John Fox can usually coax an unusual brand of “BIG BOY FOOTBALL” out of his teams when Peyton Manning’s not the QB, we’ve been real used to that game we knew as “FoxBall”. Of course, now that Brotha Mannings dealing with a bit of a gimpy ankle, FoxBall makes sense for the Broncoids, who, without question, are playing “BIG BOY FOOTBALL”.
The game last week in San Francisco was a great example of “BIG BOY FOOTBALL”. The game Monday –
WAS DEFINING. In ways that exceed the best of John Fox’s teams. Why would I say that? More on that in a few sentences. I turned to Lauren at the kickoff, and said –
“Its time to play some BIG BOY FOOTBALL!!!” , and I was fairly confident that we could. There was no question that the Brady Bunch and his Cheat-a-checks would bring their best efforts. And there was no question that the Panthers would. Even though Brady found his yards, the BIG BOY DEFENSE of the Panthers held this offensive juggernaut to a measly 3 points. As the game unfolded, I realized the genius of Bill Belli-cheat, and how he decided he was going to play this contest. He knew yards would come at a premium against this defense– there were so many heads to the hydra, so he could only keep so many heads at bay – Brady all but forsook the deep ball, because those extra seconds taken scanning the field would have brought Kraken and Company driving him into the Bank of America Stadium turf. He dumped off, with frequency, and those little 3 and 4 yard gains became 8 and 9 yard gains! And as you saw, they took the lead late on us. This is what “BIG BOY FOOTBALL” teams do. But “BIG BOY DEFENSE”, which the Panthers have, no doubt, makes the lead by the opposition only 3 points – and gets the ball back to the offense -
And, now, if there was any question, and I had many, about this Carolina Panther offense being able to play “BIG BOY FOOTBALL”, they are dispelled. Like I said, Belli-cheat had made an absolute commitment to stopping the run. Our stable of backs, the “Triple Threat”, didn’t manage 50 yards. THE WHOLE GAME. In seasons past, this was a recipe for disaster. But we didn’t have Cam Newton then. Jake Delhomme could never have done in this offense what Cam does. What we saw in the past two games was like seeing that idealistic gung-ho farm boy from Tatooine become a Jedi Knight in “Star Wars”. Soooo – If we were not able to get yards running with the backs, then Cam would find the open receiver, because that extra player was in the defensive “box”. And if he found the passing lanes choked off, of course, as the endless loops of highlight reels show again and again – he RAN. Unlike Forrest Gump, he RAN for a VERY PARTICULAR REASON. And again, I cannot ignore the role Mike Shula is playing in this offense. Remember what I said about “BIG BOY OFFENSE”? I’m going to have to retract my vilification of his system I made early in the season - When our original gameplan to gash the Pastry-Rot Defense with StewWilliams Cookies failed to produce, he switched gears, mid-game, and the result?
A final drive by Cam Newton and his Cam-a-Lots of the Cat’s Table that was one for the ages. I will save the game on my DVR, and watch it again and again until the Panthers top this one. Which they will. This season. Like Luke Skywalker severing the hand of Darth Vader, rendering him useless, Cam severed the most important head on Belli-cheat’s hydra, and like Han Solo sweeping in with the Millennium Falcon to clear Luke’s path to destroying the Death Star, the defense, led by our OWN LUKE – finished the job.
And I’m not adding one more f**cking word to the blathering about catchable balls. Period.
And I would be failing you not to mention that this success begins with our new GM, Dave Gettleman, who I believe 100% gets “BIG BOY FOOTBALL”, and makes sure Riverboat gets the athletes he needs to succeed. I would also be failing you if I did not once again retract my earlier statement about Ron Rivera and his inability to win at this level. Like Cam, he’s make a quantum shift in the way he approaches this game, and the results, well, this 6-game winning streak is proof enough.
Do this year’s Carolina Panthers play “BIG BOY FOOTBALL”??? You damn right they do. Can they continue this string of success? I believe it. If we can go to a place and beat a “team” that’s about five galaxies away from “BIG BOY FOOTBALL” in the Miami Dull-phins, a “team” incidentally, that we have NEVER BEATEN IN OUR ENTIRE FRANCHISE EXISTENCE – with the same intensity we’ve brought to EVERY GAME WE’VE PLAYED this season, you can print the playoff tickets, because we, THE CAROLINA PANTHERS, will be there.
A Crazy Joe Diversion from topic, slightly ……………..
The young Jedi, Cam Newton, approaches a ghostly visage of the Lord of BIG BOY FOOTBALL, Master Lombardi – who tells him his training is finished – already knows, him, that which he needs.
“Then I AM a Jedi” Cam breathlessly tells himself –
“COUGHCOUGHCOUGH” replies Master Lombardi – “NO – not yet! One thing remains – The Dolphins – You MUST DEFEAT THE DOLPHINS – “
Thanks so much for the diversion. I felt it necessary. In order for the Panthers to be what I feel they should TRULY be, they will need to do what no coaching staff, no front office was able to manage in our 17 years of existence. Beat the Miami Dolphins. Now.
Then, and only then,
A BIG BOY FOOTBALL TEAM, will we be.
The SuckyNeers and the Saints await after that.
As well as your PantherFanz ultimate Tailgate Party!!!
E-mail me, The Cedar Street Seer