Grill Bill: Why move on from Thomas Davis?

Thomas-Davis-for-Grill-Bill

Website submission from Johnny in Cameron, NC: Why the heck would we cut Thomas Davis? I get he might be getting old and we might need more cap space or whatever but the man was a legend. 14 years with the Panthers and we're just going to let him go for his final season making us have to worry about another spot in the draft?

I understand those of you in an uproar about this, but let’s talk it out.

You can be disappointed, upset even, but those feelings and understanding why the Panthers made the decision don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

The NFL is by and large a young man’s game, and while Davis still has a bit left, the Panthers have to get younger and faster on defense. Again, you don’t have to like how they may go about it, but it’s what needs to happen. You don’t counter increasingly innovative offenses with aging veterans.

Now, Davis’ leadership void is obviously going to be tough to fill. Luke Kuechly isn’t the ultra-fiery, rah-rah type. But leading by example can work, too – and there didn’t appear to be a huge drop-off when the Panthers started 3-1 while Davis was suspended at the start of the season.

Again, can Davis still play? Sure. But clearly, bringing back a soon-to-be 36-year-old linebacker isn't the best way to get younger and faster.

Parting ways with a guy who’s meant so much to a franchise and community – who's potentially statue-worthy – is never easy. But remember all the criticism Marty Hurney received his first go-around as general manager when his heart overruled his head?

“I look back at some of the mistakes, it might have been that loyalty, the emotional part of my brain – and that’s when I’ve got in trouble in my life,” Hurney admitted when he came back in July 2017. “When the emotional part of my brain takes over, that’s not good a lot of times.”

This time, he went with his head.

Also, Davis wasn't cut. He just isn't being re-signed.

As far as your second question goes …

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@KeeppoundingTV _I understand we just lost Thomas Davis but i believe 100% in Mr Tepper. My question is am I'm right to think drafting another LB shouldn't be our priority right now? I say DE top priority.

Correct. Linebacker is not a priority.

The torch has now truly been passed to Shaq Thompson, and while he hasn't consistently played at Davis-like level, Thompson is younger and faster. And don’t forget about Jermaine Carter. The Panthers are still intrigued by last year’s fifth-rounder who only played 84 defensive snaps as a rookie. There’s now a more clear path for him to see the field.

The offseason priorities are no different today than they were a week ago: 1) Get Cam Newton healthy, 2) Upgrade the offensive and defensive lines.

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@russdorn hi Bill, hoping you can explain which tackle number the Panthers and NFL recognize for career stats ... TD’s 1,258 coaches film tackles or 1,077 press box tackles?

Good question with a complicated answer.

While tackles for a loss are an official NFL stat, tackles remain unofficial. And there are two ways they’re tallied.

First, a crew in the press box decides who makes a tackle in real time. That number then turns into what you see on NFL.com, etc. As you can imagine, a lot can be misconstrued when you have to make a call like that, often without the benefit of replay.

Then after a game, coaches watch film and come up with their own totals. And not every coaching staff has the same philosophy as to what a guy has to do to get credit for a tackle.

If you really want to go down this rabbit hole, Michael McKnight tackled the topic a few years back in Sports Illustrated.

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@ndrewL7 Favorite Thomas Davis memory?

Can I give you two?

Neither are original thoughts that include anecdotes you’ve never heard. But nothing represents what Davis meant to the Panthers on and off the field more than his there’s-no-way-I’m-missing-the-Super-Bowl-despite-having-a-broken-arm-that-now-looks-like-a-football dedication three years ago and his Man of the Year-winning speech a year earlier.

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@jcshearer13 Now that Wilks is back on the market, are the Panthers going to bring him back in for an interview for any of their openings on defense? I feel like it would make a lot of sense.

It’d make a ton of sense. But there’s going to be a lot of competition for him.

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@kiefw15 When is Hurney gonna do an end of season presser?

I imagine we’ll hear from him soon.

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Website submission from Marie in Beaufort, SC: Has Cam been traded to Arizona?

Don’t think so. Probably would’ve had a presser for that by now.

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Website submission from Oscar in Copenhagen: Happy New Year to you Bill! All love from Denmark to Carolina! So my question is: We started the season very well 6-2, but how can it come as a surprise that it ended so poorly, considered we never threw deep balls? After 8 weeks of film it should be an easy task to stop an offense that never stretches the field. Was Cam's shoulder poor the entire season or was the protection not good enough for almost any deep throws?

“Poor” is too strong, but it appeared something was up from the start. I noticed through the spring and summer that he was rarely throwing the deep ball, and when he did - usually a 9-route to Torrey Smith - the timing was off.

Injuries on the offensive line may have tempted Norv Turner to take out some longer developing routes, but it’s not like none were called during the first part of the season. Remember Smith running wide open down the middle of the field in the Giants game?

To me, Newton just never seemed to have complete confidence winging it downfield in 2018. Then came things like the 22 fourth-quarter throws in Philadelphia and T.J. Watt’s hit in Pittsburgh.

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@sec137seat5 Who has the most shoes Cam Newton or Luke Kuechly #GrillBill

The better question is, does Kuechly have over/under 4.5 pair of shoes?

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Website submission from Lincoln in Shelby, NC: Is Devin Funchess playing next season?

Sure, but I can’t imagine it’ll be here.

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@CDB1071 Will Greg Olsen head to the broadcast booth this year?

Unless he gets a major offer (think MNF, if they decide to redo the booth even though they’ve said they wouldn’t), I’d be surprised if he doesn't play in 2019.

Of course, Olsen and the Panthers have to make sure his foot’s good to go. If it is, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind getting the 134 receiving yards he needs to pass Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome for fifth all-time among tight ends. Olsen’s already passed Newsome for fifth in receptions.

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Website submission from Jeff in Reno, NV: Hey Bill love your work. Frustrated Panthers fan here. Will the Panthers main focus this offseason be on getting the defense faster and younger? The pass rush was nonexistent. I think a healthy Cam, o-line improvements, and an infusion of youth and speed on defense can turn this team around!

Let’s finish how we started. Yes, again, faster and younger. Younger and faster. That’s your offseason theme.

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