Good day, Who Dats and the EOSB legion.
It’s time again for that one thing I know you all can’t wait for each week. In fact, you probably wake up early on Friday morning’s because you know it’s coming.
View from the Other Side is back and this week, we welcome in Joe Person (Twitter: @JosephPerson), who covers the Panthers for the Charlotte Observer. Person in his third year covering the Panthers, but has been in the business for 20 years, with stops in West Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. He covered the Atlanta Falcons for several season, including the Dirty Birds’ run to the Super Bowl in 1998.
Please give your undivided attention to Joe, who was kind enough to answer questions this week.
WWLTV.com: You tweeted Wednesday that Cam Newton wouldn't discuss the bounty the Saints allegedly had on him in 2011. In covering Newton, do you believe he truly feels it's in the past or will he use it as motivation?
Joe Person: “If the Panthers need outside motivation, there's plenty to go around this week, starting with Roman Harper's hit on Steve Smith in Charlotte and the beating the Saints administered in Week 17 at the Superdome. Plus, the NFL's finding that Newton was among those targeted. I don't think Newton will use that as motivation because it sets him above the team in a way, which he is sensitive to. Newton's motivation will be to show that he's better than the quarterback who only put 10 points up against the Bucs last week.”
WWLTV.com: Speaking of motivation, the Saints piled up points and stats in the final game of 2011 in an attempt to set records. Can you tell if any of those in the Carolina locker room still feel resentment over the way the Saints went at them to end 2011?
JP: “That 45-17 loss probably is more fuel for the Panthers than the Bountygate aspect with Newton. Several defensive starters said they didn't like that the Saints were going after records late in a 28-point game. They said they haven't forgotten. Will it mean a thing Sunday? Probably not. But if nothing else, the Panthers won't come out flat like they did last week at Tampa Bay.”
WWLTV.com: Carolina long has been known as a strong running program. Against the Bucs, they gained only 10 yards on the ground. Has the team talked about a re-dedication to the run game this week and what do you expect from it against the Saints?
JP: The Panthers had a well-balanced offense last season under coordinator Rob Chudzinski. They were third in the league in rushing, and returned just about everyone offensively. The problem last week was two-fold: The offensive line didn't get any movement run-blocking, and the Panthers abandoned the run too quickly after falling behind 13-0. With Jonathan Stewart likely back from an ankle injury, I think the Panthers will try to return to a healthy mix of run and pass
WWLTV.com: Jon Beason missed last season and is back this year. What exactly did the Carolina defense miss without him in 2011?
JP: “Leadership. A sure tackler. An on-the-field communicator. Beason is all of those things. He seemed to answer questions about his Achilles last week when he was on the field for all but one defensive snap and led the Panthers with 12 tackles against the Bucs.”
WWLTV.com: If the Panthers lose and fall to 0-2 in the NFC South, is there enough leadership on the team to keep them together so what happened in Tampa a season ago wouldn't happen in Carolina this year?
JP: “I think so. It's a long season. And the Panthers won't have very long to feel sorry for themselves. The Giants come to Charlotte for a Thursday night game four days later.