Continuing the interview series, we are moving on to the Carolina Panthers. We have with us today James Dator from Cat Scratch Reader. We had a good chat as I wasted no time asking him about - you guessed it! - the Panthers steep decline.
Please be on your best behavior, and clean your rooms so as not to embarrass everyone else. Then make the jump.
Jon: To be blunt, what happened between 2008 and 2010 that caused such a steep decline?
James: We are still learning much of this now, but it appears a huge rift emerged following the Panthers' playoff loss to Arizona in 2008. The front office lost faith in John Fox and the coaching staff, and set about putting the wheels in motion for his exit. Much of this entailed taking advantage of the capless 2010 season to shed every undesirable contract from the Panthers' books, and as such have very little financial liability moving forward. This is why you saw Jake Delhomme get cut along with Muhsin Muhammad, Nail Diggs, Brad Hoover and the trading of S Chris Harris. Ownership believed many of the Panthers' inconsistencies were due to a lack of ability in cultivating young talent, as John Fox had a (sometimes unhealthy) attachment to veterans. In cutting almost all the vets they forced Fox to play young players before they were really ready and we faltered.
Jon: Name the one player that has given you hope for the Panthers in the coming years.
James: It starts and ends with Jon Beason. Beason is just 26 now, has recorded over 120 tackles in each of his first four seasons, and is cementing himself as one of the premier LBs in the NFL. Beyond that he is the team's leader, and their pulse... everything runs througt Beason and he's happy to shoulder the role. So long as Beason is a Panther we have hope.
Jon: Running Back DeAngelo Williams will be a free agent this off-season. How hard are the Panthers going to fight to keep him?
James: It's all about the money. The Carolina Panthers will definitely want Williams back, but if he's looking for premier, top 3 money the team will try and trade him or let him walk. If Williams is willing to take a slight pay cut in order to help facilitate extensions for Jonathan Stewart and Jon Beason down the line then he'll be re-signed quickly.
Stay tuned for part two of this interview later!