Sunday, January 29, 2006

Rainy Day

It's days like this where I'm sad I don't have SPEED :(

It's about 55 degrees or so, been raining all day and the wind ishowling as well.  And I have about nothing to do except be lazy,and I can't even do that right now... too much pent up energy since I'mjust about over this cold.  Anyone have any ideas?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Quick Thought On Toyota

With Toyotamoving to Cup & Busch in 2007 with the Camry, it adds the 4thmanufacturer to the series giving teams one more option tochoose.  For long-time race fans, you know as well as I do thatToyota will bring it -- hard and heavy.  With this, the sport cangrow to reach even higher because in addition to their technologicalprowess and motorsports IQ, Toyota brings it with marketing dollars aswell.  Last year in the Trucks Toyota stepped up to sponsor 2races and I would expect a Cup race in 2007 to be sponsored by them aswell.  Toyota has given new life to the Truck Series and I wouldexpect a new shot in the arm of Cup, as if it needed it. Secondly, the people who claim that NASCAR is being taken over byJapan: shut up.  If you took the time to look around, Toyota mayas well be American as anyone else.  Dodge is run by Daimler execsin Germany.  GM has cut thousands upon thousands of jobs and theystill are full-speed ahead toward being bankrupt.  Ford justannounced they're cutting 30,000 jobs.  Yet, Toyota is opening upAmerican factories with American workers for American consumers. Toyota has 13 factories across the US currently.  Toyota also hasover $16 billion invested in North America.  Hey, I don't drive aToyota nor do I currently pull for Toyota drivers.  But if Toyotawants to be in NASCAR all indications to me point to them belonging.

Random Stuff

Seeing as how I don't feel all that well this one's gonna be shorter than usual.

- If you look back at my stuff in December, I found news of DannyO'Quinn running full-time in Busch.  The official presser wasreleased this week, car #50 and World Financial Group as thesponsor. 

- I see that Henkel is the co-primary sponsor on the 60 with Edwards, but haven't seen the presser on it... yet.

- Mountain Dew has hooked up with Brian Vickers and Hendrick, makes sense with Pepsi on Jeff's car.

- Toyota's coming to Cup... possibly the longest-awaited announcement since, well... tires are made of rubber?

-  2 TV networks are merging into 1, UPN and WB which you can read here.  I could see this as working pretty well with the surprising number ofdecent shows both networks have.  Although some will have to bemoved to another time, hopefully none of the good shows will becancelled.

- I'll probably think or more later... but go over here and bookmark the page.  I'm going comatose for a few hours and maybe I'll feel better.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Holy Cow

Kobe went off tonight against the Raptors.  He went for 81 (!)points on 28-46 shooting, 18 of 20 free throws and 7 of 13 from 3-pointrange.  Absolutely unfathomable shooting.  Interesting tonote the Lakers only won by 18 in the game.  But... wow... youdon't see that often.  I think he went for it after he was blastedby the media after he scored 62 points in 3 quarters against Dallas buttook himself out of the game.  His image in the eyes of many hasbeen irreprehensibly tarnished, but the drive he has on the basketballcourt is one the greatest in history.  The 2nd-highest scoring game in NBA history.  Too bad this one wasn't on TV.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Defeat

It all camecrashing down today.  Yes, I'm extremely disappointed aftertoday's game.  But I'm trying to take it as well as I can. Ending the season like that always leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.

First, Seattle was just better than Carolina today.  The Seahawkswere a buzzsaw that I don't think anyone would have beaten today, socongrats to them.  I think the weariness of being on the road andplaying at such high intensity finally caught up to Carolina today,playing someone like the Seahawks at their house in a ConferenceChampionship game you can't afford to play flat.  That's exactlywhat happened.

Today also showed where we need to improve for next year.  A RBthat doesn't get hurt is a top priority.  Adding another WR thatcan makes plays will help.  I would also look for possibly anotherLT or RG for the offensive line.  On defense, Jenkins better beable to play a full schedule again.  That would be a biggeraddition than anyone else.

It'll take a few days to get back to normal... but best of luck to Seattle and Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XL.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Wow....

Returned nottoo long ago from seeing Glory Road, as everyone probably knows it isthe story of the 1966 Texas Western Miners and their coach, DonHaskins.  At the time, college basketball was radically differentthan what it is today.  This movie was just amazing with theattention to detail in not only the story, but the culture, and best ofall, the basketball scenes were the best I've ever seen at amovie.  It felt so much like watching a live game.  In fact,people were cheering for the team near the end of the movie.  I'mnot quite sure how to review a movie but this is worth the price to seeand you will come out of the theater better for having seen it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Foxhole: January 18th

The following are quotes from Panthers Coach John Fox after the team's Wednesday practice.

On injuries: Brad Hoover: ankle,questionable, did not practice. Jeff Mitchell: knee, questionable, didnot practice. Kindal Moorehead: ankle, questionable, did not practice.Julius Peppers: shoulder, questionable, did not practice. Tutan Reyes:toe, questionable, did not practice. Jordan Carstens: illness,probable, did not practice. Mike Minter: wrist, probable, did notpractice.

On how having so many players miss practice affects preparation:We've been in this mode a little bit for the last few weeks now.Obviously, you want them out there practicing, but we've had them allseason. They know what we're doing. They know how we do things.Hopefully, we'll get them out there tomorrow.

On the difference between running backs Nick Goings and DeShaun Foster:They are different, but both of them are very, very productive for us,and we feel good about what Nick Goings brings to the table. Obviously,we are disappointed that DeShaun is not in there but we feel veryconfident in what Nick can do and how he can help us.

On what he likes about Goings: He's a good runner. Last year, hehad five 100-yard games for us, so he's definitely capable and there'sa lot of evidence on tape that he's capable.

On how the experience Goings gained in 2004 when he started eight games will help him:This game is about confidence. It's not just the confidence theindividual player has in himself but the guys around him. Our guys havethe utmost confidence in him and he has confidence in himself.

On if Goings will have any difficulty adjusting to being the starting running back: He's been there before, so he's not going to have any problem.

On if the game plan changes with Goings at running back instead of Foster: No.

On cornerback Ken Lucas playing against his former team: A lotis made of that whenever you get a player from another team and you goback and play them. We've experienced that quite a few times this year,either by players that have been here or players that we've picked upfrom other teams.

On if he is picking Lucas' brain for information about the Seahawks:He has some familiarity with their offense. He practiced against itevery day so he's got a little bit more knowledge of it than some ofour guys. But the West Coast Offense is not a mystery. There are a lotof people in this League running it. It's a matter of executing that'sthe key.

On why the Panthers decided to sign Lucas as an unrestricted free agent:He was young. He plays the run and the pass. Those are the key things.There was a lot of evidence on tape that he had done it at a highlevel. He's a big, physical corner.

On how Lucas has helped Carolina's defense: An area we haveworked on to improve in my tenure here has been the secondary. Twoyears ago, we drafted Chris Gamble in the first round. He's a guy thatwe've brought along who we drafted. We went out in free agency and gotKen Lucas. I think our cornerback position is much better now than itwas two and three years ago.

On if Lucas is a difference maker: In my opinion, yes. He's been a difference maker for us, or we probably wouldn't be sitting here.

On what makes Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander so special:I think the combination of size and vision. He's a big back but yethe's got the vision and elusiveness of a small back. That combinationis why I think he was the leading rusher in the National FootballLeague and the MVP of the League.

On Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck: He's always been in mymind an underrated quarterback. He executes their offense very well.You've got to be smart in that offense. They give you a wide variety offreedom in that offense as far audibles, both the run and pass. That'swhy it takes a sharp guy. He's been very accurate and very productivethis year.

On if the offensive line gained any confidence against the Bearsthat will help against the Seahawks pass rush, which led the NFL with50 sacks during the regular season: I felt good about what we wereable to do last week, but that's not going to help us this week. We'vegot to prepare and get to know them better than they know us. That'sreally our only objective right now.

On the match-ups between Carolina and Seattle: I think it's agreat match-up on paper. They had the second-rated offense in theLeague. We had the third-rated defense. On defense, they were 16th inthe League and we were 22nd (on offense). On paper, it's a very goodmatch-up, offense against defense. That's why you play the game.

On why quarterback Jake Delhomme has played so well in the postseason:I don't know that he does anything different. The key to this businessis knowing what to do and how to do it and being able to do it underpressure. Some people deal with pressure better than others.

On why wide receiver Steve Smith has been able to excel: What'sin him. He's got competitive greatness. I think that's what separatesguys and that's what drives him. I think that's the key to him.

On if Smith plays angry or with a chip on his shoulder: I think he's just a very, very strong-willed competitor.

On the disadvantages of playing on the road other than crowd noise: You are in a strange bed. You are in a strange town. You've got time changes. There are a lot of disadvantages.

On preparing to play in a loud stadium: We've got jet-enginenoise out there (at practice) that I promise you no stadium can belouder than. We practice with it and we've heard loud noise. We've beenin some big places - Philadelphia, New York, Chicago. It will be aproblem but it's not going to be a major problem.

On preparing to play in the rain: Just like crowd noise, whenyou play in the Pacific Northwest, you try to train in the PacificNorthwest. The field is artificial turf (FieldTurf) that is notaffected much by the rain, whereas a grass field would. The key isgoing to be ball security, the ball that the offense has to snap andhand off and pass. You can tweak the ball (by dunking it in water).

On the importance of trying to keep the same schedule: You tryto stay on some kind of schedule. Guys get comfortable. There is acomfort level. If you've been to the same place 10 times, you know theroad better, and it becomes more automatic and you don't have to thinkabout it. You try to stay on schedule as much as you can.

On how the team has changed since losing to Dallas: We've beenplaying better. This game is about executing and playing well. Our guysare confident but not cocky. They understand this a huge opportunity,and we're trying to put the pressure on them now in the preparation forthis game, and whoever executes best on Sunday is going to win.

On what he learned from being in the NFC Championship two years ago:Not to get caught up in all of the outside stuff. The key is going tobe the preparation, and then the test takes care of itself. I thinksometimes when you get in bigger spots and it gets bigger on theoutside, people get caught up in it, in particularly players. That'ssomething I think you want to avoid.

On if having postseason experience makes a difference: I thinkit does matter. The core of this team was with us in '03, and I dobelieve they draw on those experiences. I don't think there is anysubstitute for experience.

On what is harder, practicing for the game or playing the game:I like to think much like you do in preparation for an exam. If you'vetaken notes and read the chapters and done everything in thepreparation, the test becomes the easy part.

On if he has ever had to go to Plan B during a game: A lot.These things all take on different personalities. You have tendencieson everybody. They might self scout and then they change. If theychange, you change. You don't stay the same. It's just like eachseason. Different teams are up there. Nothing stays the same, so you'vegot to be one step ahead in adjusting.

On the team's drive to succeed: I think what separates the teams is the team that wants it the most. That's part of the game.

On how he would describe himself as a leader: I love my job. Ifeel very blessed to be here. It's something I knew I wanted to dosince I was 11. I'm just me. I'm not smart enough to be anybody else.Sometimes I have a hard time describing me but I do love what I do.

On what made him decide to want to become a football coach: Ijust loved the game and I knew I was going to try to play as long as Icould and then when I couldn't play anymore I was going to coach. Ihave been blessed to be around a lot of great coaches, even at an earlyage. It was just something that I wanted to do.

On how much he is driven by the loss to New England in Super Bowl XXXVIII:Quite a bit. There is only one happy team at the end of all this, andthat's the one that wins it. I've been on that sideline twice when therope is about to take your neck off when you lose the Super Bowl. It'sno fun, so I think it drives me quite a bit.

I've saidit before and I'll say it again: Fox at press conferences is fun. This being the NFC Championship game, Fox is faced with more questionsthan usual.  The injury report is misleading.  Last week andthe week before, a lot of guys are listed as questionable by Fox. But every Friday, everyone is upgraded to probable.  Iguess its apsychological thing, but Fox does that a lot.  Fox is the one guyfrom the team I may actually be scared of meeting because of therespect and admiration I have for him.

Monday, January 16, 2006

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y

I wanted to post this as soon as I could.

I got back not too long ago from Bank Of America Stadium.  Myroommate and I decided to go, to see the team arrive back and be arounda bunch of other Panther fans.  We got there at about 10:45 and itwas electric.  Whenever a television camera crew shows up peoplego apeshit, but I did too so its all in good fun.  After severalchants and whoops and hollers (I even started a few myself), it wasdead for a while until some of the TopCats come out to get usexcited.  On TV I heard that the time of arrival was 11:30, but itwasn't until about 12 or so that the team came in on the buses. Man, it was just crazy there getting crowded in, and having so manypeople there that were fans and excited.  Some players took thetime to shake hands with us and sign autographs.  I got to shakeRicky Manning's and Brad Hoover's (HOOOOOOVER) hands.  Also got tosee just about everybody, we called for Coach Fox to come back but hedidn't.  When Proehl came by we chanted ONE MORE YEAR!  ONEMORE YEAR!  I feel hoarse now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Foxhole: January 11th

The following are comments from John Fox following the team's Wednesday practice.

On injuries: DeShaun Foster: toe,questionable, did not practice. Brad Hoover: ankle, questionable, didnot practice. Tutan Reyes: toe, questionable, did not practice. BrandonShort: knee, questionable, did not practice. Ricky Proehl: illness,probable, did not practice.

On what the Panthers need to do to be productive offensively against the Bears:The key is not turning the ball over, and we didn't do that very wellthe last time as far as keeping possession of the ball. In all footballgames, particularly at this level and in the playoffs, it's usually thedifference between winning and losing. It will be a priority this time.

On how Carolina and Chicago match up: On paper, it's still agood match up. It's a different kind of match up than last week in thatthey have the second-ranked defense and we have the third-rankeddefense. They have the 29th (ranked) offense and we have the 22nd(ranked) offense. It's still the offenses against the defenses and it'sstill a tough match up. I think turnovers will be key, just like theywere a week ago and really through the regular season.

On how the Bears are different with Rex Grossman at quarterback instead of Kyle Orton:Not much. They seem to have opened it up a little bit. But they aregoing to do what they do, rely on their defense to get turnovers andget short fields. They do an excellent job running the ball and in thequick passing game and they do some double moves to get the ball deep.I don't think that their offense has changed much with the change atquarterback.

On quarterback Jake Delhomme's two interceptions at Chicago in Week 11:It wasn't just Jake. Protection-wise, we didn't give him a lot of help.He did make some poor decisions and he understands that. But thathappens when you've got 6-6 guys breathing down your neck. Acombination of all of the above created for a poor performance for ouroffense.

On if the Bears stacked the line of scrimmage in the first game between the two teams:No. The majority of their pressures came from four-man pressures. Theydo dog and fire zone enough, but most of it was we were playing catchup and we were spread out and dropping back to pass more than we like.It wasn't pretty.

On the Panthers rushing offense against the Bears rushing defense:I'm always curious to see how our run game matches up, regardless ofwho we play, because I believe it's very important to have success inthe run game. Time will tell.

On Carolina's improvement in the running game: I'd like to thinkwe've improved. But like I mentioned earlier, we're going against thesecond-rated defense. They're very, very good and they whooped uspretty good the last time, so it will be a huge challenge running andpassing.

On what role Chicago and former Carolina wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad played in the development of wide receiver Steve Smith:He's a veteran. He had done well at this level. Like a big brother,possibly. How to practice. How to prepare. A lot of the things that abig brother does. My hat's off to Steve. I think he has grown up a lot.I think Moose did have something to do with that. I think guys herenow, like Ricky Proehl, have also helped with that. But at the end ofthe day, it all comes down to Steve Smith, and I think all of thecredit needs to go to him.

On Smith's touchdown celebrations: As long as it doesn't affectour team or isn't an embarrassment to our team or cost us penalties, Idon't have a problem with it. These guys work hard. They're emotional.They're excited. As long as it remains part of the emotion of the game,I'm fine with it. I see them probably like you guys do on Sports Centerafter the fact. I've seen some of them and I thought they were fairlyfunny.

On if he expects a low-scoring game: These things take ondifferent personalities. I was in the Super Bowl, and it looked like adefensive battle in the first half and it was a completely differentgame in the second half. You just never know how these things are goingto turn out.

On playing a playoff game in a place with a lot of football history:Soldier Field, the tradition there. The Chicago Bears, the traditionthere. I think those are kind of neat spots like going to Philadelphiaor New York. Those are pretty rabid fans and pretty hostileenvironments, and it takes tough people to go there and win.

On the importance of turnovers in this game: It's huge. I thinkwe finished the regular season with a fairly high turnover margin. Wehad quite a few takeaways, and takeaways usually result in points. As Imentioned earlier, that was a significant turn of events in our lastgame with Chicago. Those are things you try to avoid with your team andimpose your will on the other team.

On if the Bears could be rusty coming off a bye: That's hard tosay. The record says different. History says the team that gets the byedoes very well in their next game. We're up against a lot of thingsthis week.

On how quickly a team can build confidence: As I've said allalong, you're usually a couple of weeks away from disaster when thingsare good and vice versa. It takes tough minded people to fight throughthose tough times. I don't care who you are or how many Super Bowlrings you have, when you go through a football season, there are toughtimes. It's just how tough you are to come out of them. That's what wedo. That's the National Football League.

On how cornerback Ken Lucas has improved the Panthers defense: Ithink we've made progress during our tenure here. In this day and age,you can't fix it all at once. We've done it in a variety of ways withthe draft as well as free agency. It has been something we wanted toimprove on from last offseason, and we think we've fortified it to adegree.

On if the Panthers are where he wants them to be: It's Wednesdayin preparation for the Chicago Bears. I thought the last two games haveprobably been our best two-game stretch. What awaits us this comingSunday, I'll know more as the week moves forward. I think we're playingwith confidence. We're definitely up against a big match this week.

So, everyone is questionable... somehow, I don't think that it willkeep the guys out of the game.  I wish I could say I'm asconfident this week as I was last week, but I can't.  I can'tbring myself to admit the Bears are a Super Bowl contender, but theyare just so damn tough on defense.  It will take an exceptionalgame plan from Dan Henning to figure out how to get some points onthese guys.  But more importantly, Jake needs to MAKE GOODDECISIONS.  The game in November when the Bears won, that was anaberration.  I'm sure Jake has looked at that game and kickedhimself for the position he put himself and the team in, spotting theBears 10 points, and it just got worse.  That won't happenagain.  This is the playoffs, where Jake is 4-1.  Ugh...we'll see what happens, I hope I get to talk about a win.


Sunday, January 8, 2006

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y

Carolina Panthers - 23
New York Giants - 0

I was thoroughly impressed with the way the Carolina Panthers playedtheir game.  The team came in with a gameplan and I'll be damnedif they didn't execute it to perfection.  Jake didn't make a bigmistake on offense, Foster was superb - 27 carries for 151 yards - andSteve Smith showed yet again that he has been the most dominant WR inthe NFL this season, with 10 catches for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns (1rushing TD).  Smith also had some funny celebrations, first withthe snow angel then he rode the pony on the second.  Iparticularly liked that one.  Defensively, this game wasn'tclose.  Fox, Trgovac, and the Panther defense imposed their willon a pretty damn good offense.  Tiki Barber was held to 13 carriesfor 41 yards and Eli Manning was outmatched.  You could hear it onthe TV the crowd gradually got softer and softer until it wasnon-existant by the end.  This was enjoyable on so many levels.

Now, did I not say what had to happen for a Carolina win or did Inot?  Damn I'm good LOL.  But I've closely followed what JohnFox has changed to this team and molded it into a contender.  Thisis also why I'm confident we can win against Chicago.  Rarely doesFox lose to a team twice, and I harken back to the 2003 playoffs wherethe team lost to both Dallas and Philadelphia in the regular season,but defeated both teams solidly in the playoffs.  Fox is a greatgame planner and game manager that puts his team in position towin.  I'm excited about our chances.

Friday, January 6, 2006

2 Days Away

Well, thefirst round of games sets off tomorrow.  I like the Redskinsbecause I really fuckin hate Tampa Bay.  But really, Washington'swhite-hair staff has this team rolling like no one else coming into theplayoffs.  Right now, Washington is a team no one wants tosee.  Brunell should have been a Pro Bowler, Portis is running aswell if not better than he did in Denver, Santana Moss is the best NFCWR not named Steve Smith, and their defense has been rock solid forseveral years now.  I just can't bring myself to acknowledge ChrisSimms a legitimate QB that can manage a Super Bowl team, and Cadillacwill be sitting in the shop after Saturday.  The Saturday game,Jags/Pats, could go either way.  Jacksonville played acollege-like schedule, and enter the playoffs with an amazing 12-4record for a wild card team.  I keep hearing how Belichick coachedto lose so he could meet Jacksonville, and he may very well have. But at the risk of saving his starters for the game (just look at whathappened to Bruschi) he decided not to leave the chance of anyone elsegetting hurt before it was money time.  That said... its NewEngland, its January, and I'm not betting against them until someoneactually beats them.

After taking note of what the guys I watch on ESPN say, the Giants arethe favorite... which suits me just fine.  When you're theunderdog, you have nothing to lose.  Back in '03, Carolina won asunderdogs in St. Louis and Philly.  Although, I expected a wineach time (even in the Super Bowl... but I can deal w/ that lossbecause the game came down to whoever had the ball last...).  Yet,local sports radio never ceases to amaze me.  I was listening tothese idiots today that are usually funny... but there were way off Ithought today.  This "Panther" fan called in, but I'm not so surewhere his allegiance was, when I hear things like "Shockey willdominate the middle of the field", "Tiki Barber will run all over thedefense", "Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer are better than ChrisGamble and Ken Lucas", " Dan Morgan is a liability" and it goes on...WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?  Yes, the Giants have a goodteam.  But do you not think Fox and Trgovac will solve theproblems that plagued them with running backs later in theseason?  From what I've seen, John Fox is a helluva coach in theplayoffs.  This is a guy who shut down the Vikings back in 2000when the Giants won the NFC Championship, in fact, held that teamscoreless.  Fox also coached a team that beat the "greatest showon turf", the St. Louis Rams, AT St. Louis.  And he coached a teamthat made Donovan McNabb cry uncle a week later.  What you'regonna see, hopefully, is a package with Thomas Davis entering the gameto lay some lumber on Barber when the Giants are in obvious runsituations.  My theory for the game is this: the Panther defenseneeds to stop Tiki Barber first.  When faced with this question,how do you answer: do you take away Eli Manning or Tiki Barber? Of course you take away Barber.  Eli likes to throw interceptions- Lucas and Gamble are two of the most opportunistic corners in theleague and they often win jump balls or they can jump routes. From other things I've seen, Shockey isn't at full speed.  Even ifhe was, Morgan and Witherspoon are more than adequate as coveragelinebackers.  Will Witherspoon is one of, if not the mostunderrated linebacker in the NFL.  I would argue he is just asvaluable to the team as Morgan is.  Problem is, he is free agentafter the season.  I really hope we can hold on to him.  So,that brings me to Dan.  He has been playing most of the seasonwith a separated shoulder.  As a testament to how tough he is, hegoes out there as much as possible with his shoulder dangling from hisbody... that, my friends, is a tough son of a bitch.  Yetrecently, he has been criticized as being "injury-prone" and I've evenseen him being called a "lemon" by a certain Charlotte Observerwriter.  I don't get it.  Doesn't everyone face injuries atsome point during the season?  Yes, I admit Dan has had more thanhis share.  But no one stays hurt forever.  We would be verysorry to give up on him.  With Chris Draft able to step in andplay at a high level, that gives us 4 linebackers that are startingcaliber in the league (along with the termnially underappreciatedBrandon Short).  One thing I heard today that had me intrigued waspossibly moving Morgan to outside linebacker.  That would beinteresting to see, and may in fact be the case if Witherspoon isn'tre-signed.  But it intrigues me because Morgan is great in space,and is very fast, so him blitzing from the side would be tough tohandle and Draft can handle the middle. 

My final thoughts go to someone named Osi Umenyiora: you have no ideawhat you've done, buddy.  Why in the hell would you fire up thebest front 4 in the league?  Rucker is a beast and Peppers is thebest DE in the league... and you want to get them even more pumpedbefore the game starts?  Well, thanks my man... you just costyourself a trip to the divisional round.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Foxhole: January 4th

These are comments from Panther coach John Fox following the team's Wednesday practice.

On if he would rather not be playing New York because of his past history with the Giants:They make the schedule, and that's who we end up playing. I reallycouldn't think of anybody better to play. It's a team I'm familiarwith, it's a stadium I'm familiar with, and we were just there in thepreseason. We'll show up.

On being on the other sideline at Giants Stadium: Any time yougo on the road in this League, it's tough. You're going into a hostileenvironment, and I'm sure that place will be packed and very loud. I'drather be playing at home, but we didn't earn that right and we've gotto go on the road.

On the Giants offense: They were the number four rated offensein the League this year. They do as good of a job both running andpassing like most good offenses. They've got a double-edged sword withthat offense.

On how Carolina matches up against New York's defense: As Imentioned to our local media early in the week, we match up prettywell. I think they were 24th on defense and we were 22nd on offense inthe regular season. Offensively, they were fourth, and we were third,defensively. So on paper, it's a good match-up, and the team thatexecutes the best is going to win.

On having positive momentum going into the playoffs: You arealways trying to have momentum, because when you win it breedsconfidence. Fortunately for us, we were able to get that win last week.We've got an opportunity to go into the playoff segment of the season.Whether we have momentum or not, the reality is we've got to outperformour opponent.

On if he is treating this week like any other week or treating it differently because it is the playoffs:It turns up a level, and I think guys understand that. It's likeplaying on Monday Night Football or going from the preseason to theregular season. All of your peers, for the most part, are watching.From that standpoint, it turns up a notch. But at the end of the day,you've still got to prepare, and the team that's the most preparedusually wins.

On high expectations for the Panthers: With success,expectations rise. I think that beats the alternative. We've workedvery hard. These players have worked veryhard. The front office,ownership. Expectations, I would rather them be high than low.

On if stays in contact with anybody in the Giants organization:We stay in contact a little bit. I have good friends in thatorganization as well as on that football team. We have a fewconversations, but you don't have much time to chat on the phone atthis point in the season.

On preparing for any possible inclement weather in New York:It's not going to be 80 and beautiful. I'm pretty much sure of that. Ihaven't seen a forecast yet but I'm expecting somewhere in the 30's.After that, who knows?


One thing I always love is how these coaches are able to talk aboutnothing during these press conferences and things.  Fox,Belichick, and most other coaches practice this same philosophy. The exceptions I can think of are Bill Parcells and Dick Vermeil, andnow Vermeil has retired (again).  Carolina also made a few rostermoves today, as they placed scrub safety Jermaine Hardy on IR andresigned Garnell Wilds to the main roster.  Wilds has shuffledbetween the main roster and the practice squad a few times thisyear.  My guess is that he'll be on the inactive list for thegame. 

A lot of fans don't know this, but of the 53 man roster each teamcarries, a team can only use 45 of them, so the remaining players arein the inactive list for the game.  So, what's the purpose, youask?  Most teams' inactive list includes the 3rd QB, a runningback, wide receiver, offensive lineman, defensive lineman, linebacker,and defensive back.  Here is the Carolina inactive list for mostgames:
3rd QB - Stephan Lefors
RB - Jamal Robertson most the year, last few games it has been Rod Smart
WR - was Drew Carter up until the New Orleans game 3 weeks ago when RodGardner was released, now former practice squad member Efrem Hill ishere
OL - reserve tackle Dave Kadela has been on the inactive list for everygame this season, and rookies Evan Mathis and Geoff Hangartner splittime as well
DL - rookie linemen Jovan Haye and Attiyah Ellison are usually inactive for the games
LB - team hasn't used an extra linebacker spot here since Adam Sewardwent on IR and Sean Tufts began playing in his place on special teams,but Dan Morgan traditionally spends time here at least a few games aseason
CB - Wilds spent time here earlier this season, and recently it has been Jermaine Hardy until his injury last week

I figure the football fans that care about this kind of stuff wouldget a kick out of someone else being interested as well, and if oneperson has discovered a side of the game they didn't know about before,that's awesome as well.  I know that I personally had no idea thateveryone on the 53 man roster didn't play because of an NFL rule until2003. 

And on a personal note, thank God FOX is putting the #1 team on thisgame, I'm sick of idiots like Bill Maas and Brian Baldinger ruining myfootball games week after week after week.

GO PANTHERS!

This issomething I've been wanting to do for a while, and now I finally getthe chance to do so.  The regular NASCAR blog is on hiatus, and asof right now the blog will focus on the NFL playoffs, primarily on myCarolina Panthers in their quest to become Super Bowl XL Champions.

The Panthers will line up and play the New York Giants this Sunday at 1PM on FOX.  I do expect the Panthers to win this game. The Giantsare good, but they aren't on Carolina's level in this one.  Withall 3 of their starting linebackers injured and not likely to play, Idon't care if they have 2 great ends.  The Panthers offensive linecan block them out of the play and DeShaun Foster can run overthem.  Just ask the Atlanta Falcons on how good Foster canbe.  Tiki Barber scares me though.  He can take over a game,and I really hope Dan Morgan is well enough to play this one. When he is healthy, Morgan is one of the top 5 linebackers in the NFLwithout question.  But if Fox and Trgovac can come up with agameplan to neutralize him, I don't think Eli is at the point where hecan take the team to the next round.  And don't forget John Foxran the Giants defense for 5 years and some players he coached arestill there....

A few quotes from my favorite head coach in the NFL, John Fox:


On the Panthers most important win this season:"You just fight through each one of them, and, hopefully, when it allsettles you have more wins than losses. I feel fortunate and I feelproud of what we've accomplished at 11-5. I can't say that one had moreimportance than any other."

On playing his former team, the New York Giants, in the playoffs at the Meadowlands:"Any time I go back there, it brings back memories. I am very thankfulto the late Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch for the opportunity they gaveme. I had a good run there as an assistant coach. You are always goingto have fond memories of places where you had success. As far as whatit means in this exact game, this will be a tough game against a goodfootball team at their place."

On Carolina's chances in the playoffs:"It's just like the start of the season. You have two seasons. You havethe regular season and then you have the playoffs. This League, bydesign, is very, very equal. We weathered the regular season and nowwe're into the second season. It's anybody's game. If you go back andlook at history, the number one seed hasn't really come through thetournament in the last 12 years or so. It's anybody's game. That's whatis great about the playoffs."