Saturday, June 8, 2013

7 comments Adam Schein Needs Some Attention You Guys

I didn't want to write about this Adam Schein column. I really didn't. I try to avoid writing about my favorite teams for fear of coming off as a blind homer or a cheerleader. Unfortunately, I tend to come across bad articles written about my favorite teams quite often (if you come across a bad column that I miss about your favorite team, email it to me). I can ignore some of these columns and other times I can not. I am compelled to write about this Adam Schein column. I have a choice, but he has given me almost no choice. Adam Schein states the Carolina Panthers are going nowhere with Ron Rivera and Cam Newton. That's fine. That's his belief and his opinion. I don't think he's wrong and I don't he's right because I can't predict the future and Rivera/Newton have a 13-19 record together. I can handle an opinion like this. What I can't handle is Adam Schein battering us with hyperbole, using his opinion as a fact in an effort to defend his point, and using "wins" as the main reason he believes himself to be right. Football is a team sport. Just like you can't entirely judge Drew Brees on the Saints record last year, you can't entirely judge Cam Newton for his team's record. All I ask is that Schein defends his point better than saying, "Well, he ain't a leader and don't win no games."

Let me start off with some facts. Yes, facts, something that Schein's column is woefully short on in defending his conclusion. From Doug Farrar of Shutdown Corner on Twitter:

2010 Panthers dead last in Offensive DVOA. 2011 Panthers w/Newton raised to fourth, and 10th last year. 32nd to 1st in rushing 2010-2011.

Panthers defense ranked 32nd in Defensive DVOA in 2011. CAR special teams have never ranked higher than 29th with Newton there.

You can argue the value of Offensive/Defensive DVOA amongst yourselves, but I find it to be a fairly decent measurement of how good a team is. Carolina has had 20 draft picks since 2011 (when Rivera took over as head coach). They have had eleven picks in Rounds 1-4 since then. Of these eleven picks in Rounds 1-4 and Carolina has drafted seven defensive players with those picks. Of the four picks on offensive since 2011 in Rounds 1-4, one of those picks was Cam Newton and the other was Joe Adams who is (was) considered a special teams guy mostly. 

Carolina's defense hasn't been especially good. That's a fact. Cam Newton took over in 2011 and made the Carolina offense much, much better. That is also a fact. The biggest difference in the 2010 and 2011 Carolina Panthers teams was the presence of Newton. They had the same receivers, the same offensive line, and the same running backs. Only the tight ends and quarterback changed on offense. Don't get me wrong, I love Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey, but they aren't that big of a difference-maker on offense to raise Carolina to 4th and 10th (from dead last) in Offensive DVOA. 

As far as Ron Rivera goes, I thought he should have been fired last year, but a strong finish against weaker teams saved his job. He's terrible in close games. He may not be the right guy for the head coaching job, but it is harder to argue against the progress Carolina has made with Cam Newton. No, Newton isn't perfect. He is 24 years old, not an accurate passer, could still mature some, and doesn't have a great touch on his passes all of the time. Nobody said he was perfect, but this column does contain the phrase "epitome of clutch" so you have to understand that's the level of bullshit we are dealing with here. 

There's just this problem I can't get past when it comes to Cam Newton, Ron Rivera and this year's Carolina Panthers.

I don't think they have a chance.

They may not have a chance. That remains to be seen. Everyone is entitled to an opinion as long as they don't present their opinion as fact.

They don't have a chance for anything.

Let's not turn on the Fall Out Boy and go emo quite yet. They have a chance at not being the worst team in the NFL. That is a little something.

I think the Panthers enter the 2013 season as the worst team in the NFC South. They finished last season at 7-9, tied in the division standings with the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

They finished second in the division because they beat New Orleans twice and had won some sort of tie-breaker with the Bucs. Since the NFC South appears to be a moderately strong division this upcoming year, Carolina could indeed be last. It doesn't mean they are terrible, it could mean the division is strong.

While I liked the Panthers' haul in the 2013 NFL Draft, where did Carolina get noticeably better?

You mean other than at the defensive tackle position which was the biggest hole on the roster last year? Well, nowhere else I guess. Carolina has major salary cap issues and didn't get to play the free agent market as a major buyer. The Panthers are already noticeably better on paper at stopping the run. Where did the Saints or Buccaneers get better in the draft? The Saints drafted a safety to add to their historically bad defense and only had five draft picks with only one in the Top 81 picks of the draft. How did they magically fix their historically bad defense in the draft with one draft pick, but Carolina didn't fix their run defense with two defensive tackle draft picks? It's all on paper anyway.

The Buccaneers didn't have a first round pick because they traded for Darrelle Revis. Their first pick was a cornerback and their second pick was a backup quarterback. Are they noticeably better on paper after the draft? Probably, because they got Revis, but I'm not sure they did more to shore up their issues than Carolina did. It can't be understated how bad Carolina was against the run last year. Any draft pick at the defensive tackle position would be a noticeable improvement.

This is the type of bad logic that Schein shows in this column. He's not saying Carolina didn't improve as much as the Buccaneers or Saints did, he's saying he can't see where Carolina improved in the draft. This is just lunacy for anyone who watched Carolina against Michael Turner, Andre Brown, Doug Martin, and any other running back last year. Schein appears to be talking about draft-only improvement independent of what the other NFC South teams did.

Honestly, the Panthers could be one of the four worst teams in the NFC. 

Well, as long as you are being honest about it I will accept your opinion as fact.

I don't believe Newton has what it takes to eradicate and/or mask areas of deficiency.

This is true. Cam Newton can't make the defense play better or make Rivera coach better. Clearly this all speaks to his deficiencies as a leader, quarterback, and human being.

I don't believe he is an elite, upper-echelon quarterback.

He's not. Many didn't believe Joe Flacco was an elite quarterback until he won a Super Bowl. Many didn't believe Colin Kaepernick was even an NFL starter until he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl. Newton may suck this year, but a person's belief isn't necessarily a fact.

He also can be inconsistent when it comes to protecting the ball

This is a common lazy criticism. Carolina has won one game in the past two years where Cam Newton has committed a turnover. That speaks to his supporting cast more than it speaks to his inconsistency turning the ball over. Good teams can withstand their quarterback throwing interceptions. Andrew Luck threw 18 of them this year, including three against the Lions in a game the Colts won.

Remember the press conference during which he asked for the suggestion box?

I do remember the press conference where he frustratedly asked for a suggestion box. He couldn't figure out why the Carolina offense wasn't performing the way it was expected to. I also remember what happened shortly after the press conference. Rob Chudzinski tweaked the way he was calling plays, which resulted in Carolina going 6-4 from that point on and Newton throwing six interceptions over that 10 game span. I never understood the uproar about this comment. I can see another quarterback saying the same thing and not getting any heat. Newton was simply saying he can't figure out what is wrong with the team, when some of what was wrong was obvious, it just turns out Newton didn't want to call out teammates/coaches at his press conference. Of course Newton needs to improve how he interacts with the media, but this comment seemed pretty innocuous to me.

His teammates have yet to vote him captain. That tells me something.

It tells you Carolina has veteran players who have been with the team for over a decade who are leaders in the locker room like Jordan Gross, Thomas Davis, Steve Smith, Ryan Kalil and Jon Beason? I also like the use of "have yet" like Newton has been in the NFL for a decade. The Panthers aren't the Jaguars or Redskins who lacked veteran leadership when their first round pick arrived. They had veterans who deserved to be captains.

Newton still needs to grow up. That's a problem.

Cam Newton needs to grow, of course he does. I won't argue that. He's not the only quarterback who needs to grow up, but because he hasn't been successful and rubs others the wrong way he gets the brunt of this criticism. Robert Griffin just speaks his mind when he references "the tyranny of political correctness" on Twitter. He's refreshing when he refers to those who want to change the Redskins name to something less offensive as participating in "tyranny." I guess since Griffin is well-liked and wins games he doesn't need to grow up.

He hasn't earned it. Luck and RG3 carried bad teams and were the epitome of clutch;

This is the worst of the worst when it comes to hyperbole. What does this even mean? Cam Newton carried a bad team in 2011, but didn't carry them far enough to make the playoffs. The statistics back up Newton's effect on Carolina's offense. Perhaps he does need to be more clutch though. Maybe there should be a suggestion box made available on how he can be more clutch.

the vets followed their lead.

Okay, Mr. Anecdotal Evidence. That's great proof, even though I'm not entirely sure how Schein came to this conclusion. It seems like Carolina's offense followed Cam's lead, but what do I know, I can't understand how clutch Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin really are.

Luck and RG3 would've put the flawed Panthers in the playoffs last year, just like they did with, respectively, the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins.

This is an opinion and not in any way a fact. There's no way to know if Luck or Griffin would have taken the Panthers to the playoffs. To indicate they would have is useless speculation and the sign of bad writing.

If I remember correctly, Robert Griffin wasn't clutch enough to beat the flawed Carolina Panthers team at home in November of this past season, but that's beside the point I guess. 

The Panthers are 13-19 with Newton. Quarterbacks are judged by wins and losses.

Anyone who judges a quarterback solely on wins and losses is a fucking moron. I feel so strongly I can't beat around the bush on this. There is more to judging a quarterback than simply on wins and losses. Cam Newton may be irritating and he may never be a great quarterback, but don't judge him based on wins and losses solely. In fact, don't judge any quarterback solely on wins and losses.

Going into Year 3, you can call Cam Newton electric, but you can't call him a winner.

We can't use meaningless hyperbole to describe him? Then what's the point of our existence as a human race if we can't overuse hyperbole?

Gettleman is the right guy for this difficult cleanup job, but I would've let him choose his own head coach. I don't believe Rivera will ever develop into a great head man. 

I agree.

Former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski took the Cleveland Browns' head-coaching gig, and then quarterbacks coach Mike Shula replaced him. This appointment was odd, considering that Newton really hasn't progressed.

I don't have access to NFL quarterbacks to poll them, but I would bet $100 if you asked an NFL quarterback what helped his development more than anything else he would say being able to play in the same system on a consistent basis early in his career. I didn't like the appointment of Shula to offensive coordinator, but having a young quarterback learn a new system isn't always the best move. Consistency in the offense is very important for young quarterbacks. Mike Shula provides that consistency, for better or worse.

Carolina needs an offensive guru who demands perfection and accountability from Newton. I would've handed the keys over to Mike McCoy, Jay Gruden or Ken Whisenhunt.

Because I'm sure Mike McCoy would have passed up the chance for an NFL head coaching job to coach as an assistant again in Carolina. Why wouldn't McCoy want to turn down one of the 32 NFL head coaching jobs if he could make a lateral move to a less successful NFL team? I'm also sure Jay Gruden would have also accepted a lateral move to Carolina so he could work with a non-playoff team despite the fact if he stays in his current situation in Cincinnati he could be a hot head coaching name after the 2013 season.

In defense of both Newton and Rivera, though, let's remember that this team just isn't very good.

What's the identity? Where are the Panthers strong? They lack depth at receiver. It's not a great offensive line.

I'm not sure how the fact Carolina isn't very good is a defense of Rivera since he is the freaking head coach of the team and has been for two years, but much like the clutchiness of a quarterback, maybe I don't understand how a team that isn't very good doesn't reflect in some way on the head coach. I also despise the way Adam Schein is playing both sides of the argument. Let's look at him playing both sides:

1. Schein writes Cam isn't a winner, doesn't have the respect of his teammates because he hasn't been elected captain, quarterbacks are judged by wins and losses so Carolina's 13-19 record with Newton reflects on Newton's abilities, and Schein also writes Luck/RG3 would have led the Panthers to the playoffs last year.

2. Schein also writes in defense of Newton that the Panthers team isn't very good, then points out the weaknesses in the Panthers offensive personnel. So all of a sudden the Panthers record with Newton isn't a reflection on Newton, but a reflection on the talent around Newton, but Schein is still going to judge him by his wins and losses...because that makes sense and all.

But this defense still has more holes than Swiss cheese.

Maybe, and I'm just spit-balling here, the Panthers record with Newton as the quarterback is a product of the bad coaching and porous defense more than it is a reflection on Newton's ability to lead and overall talent level. There have been games where Newton has been terrible and he significantly contributed to those losses, but there are also games where he played good enough to win and Carolina lost. After all, Carolina has won 1 game where Newton has committed a turnover. His margin for error is almost non-existent.

Here's the other ultra-important issue: Carolina clearly has the worst roster in the division.

I give up. This is a clusterfuck of an article. Carolina has the worst roster in the division, but Cam's not a leader because he doesn't will them to the playoffs with his clutchiness, as Robert Griffin and Andrew Luck undoubtedly would have done.

The Bucs traded for Darrelle Revis and signed Dashon Goldson, instantly turning an area of weakness (the defensive backfield) into an area of strength.

(coughs) Sort of like Carolina tried to do with their defensive line by drafting two defensive tackles in the first two rounds.

The Bucs are better than the Panthers in every area besides quarterback. 

I'm going to pound my head into a wall. So Adam Schein says Cam Newton is better than Josh Freeman but the Panthers will finish the season below the Buccaneers in the standings? Obviously if the Buccaneers get in the playoffs it will be because Freeman is such a great leader and is the epitome of clutch and not because of any of the talent surrounding Freeman or because Greg Schiano may be a competent head coach.

Also, Carolina is better than Tampa Bay at tight end, defensive line, and linebacker. Right now I would take Greg Olsen over Luke Stocker, take Johnson/Lotulelei/Dwan Edwards/Hardy over Bowers/McCoy/Gibson/Spence/Clayborn, and Kuechly/Davis/Beason over David/Foster/Casillas. That's just my opinion.

And despite the Atlanta Falcons' loss in Carolina last December, I think it's safe to say Atlanta is a wee bit more talented.

I agree. I will add the flawed Panthers team beat Atlanta once in 2012 and if it weren't for a miracle throw (again, the defense let the Carolina team down) by Matt Ryan they would have beaten the Falcons in both head-to-head matchups during the 2012 season.

Cam Newton isn't focused enough -- or good enough -- to overcome the obstacles he'll face in this competitive division.

Plus, he is not the epitome of clutch.

I don't think Newton and Rivera are the guys to deliver a winning product.

They may not be, but probably not only for the reasons you have chosen to use. Rivera has shown himself to be incompetent in close games and Cam has shown he could be a more accurate passer, as well as learn to see the field better.

History and a glimpse into the crystal ball say so.

Unfortunately a glimpse into the crystal ball is simply guessing. Not too many people had the 49ers making the Super Bowl with Colin Kaepernick as their quarterback. I have no issue with criticism of Cam Newton or Ron Rivera (especially Rivera, I find him to be a very below average head coach), but at least make criticisms that make sense and aren't based on intangible leadership and clutch factors, while also acknowledging the lack of talent you believe surrounds Newton. I guess Schein wanted attention and he got some. 


Anonymous said...

Adam Schein IS an idiot. Apparently he and Peter King are having a contest to see who knows the least about football but still gets paid to write about it. Sadly, I was exposed to his buffoonery early, when I lived in Syracuse and he was just getting started in radio. He thought Rob Johnson was going to be the best thing to happen to the Bills' offense. Ahem. Thank you for taking him on and taking him down!

Anonymous said...

"Quarterbacks are judged by wins and losses."

I cannot stand when people use this line, like it's organic to the universe and that's just the way it is. Who judges QBs by wins and losses? People do. Which means people have the power to change that. We don't HAVE to do this, we CHOOSE to do this. It's just incredibly lazy to fall back and say, well QBs are judged by wins and losses and there's nothing we can do about that. Actually, there is. Stop it.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, he was a Rob Johnson guy huh? I would have taken him for a Doug Flutie kind of guy. Did he troll for attention sometimes on the radio there as well?

Anon2, I hate that line too. To an extent, you can judge a QB by a team's wins or losses and I have no issue with legit criticism of Newton. I'm not in love with him either. Judge a QB by wins and losses, that's fine, but at the same time recognize a QB's value to a football team. The difference in the Carolina offense in 2010 w/o Newton and w/ Newton in 2011 and 2012 speaks for itself.

He may never be an elite QB and he may never be as good as Luck, Griffin, Wilson or even Matt Schaub. Simply saying, "judge him by wins and losses" is an oversimplified way of discrediting his effect on the Carolina offense. As I've said before, there are real, tangible ways to criticize Cam Newton. His footwork gets a bit off, he forces the ball to Steve Smith, he has a tendency to throw the short pass a little too hard, and his maturity level isn't quite what it needs to be (but isn't quite as bad as presented by some writers). All of those work for now, but judging any QB simply on wins and losses is short-sighted.

Anonymous said...

I will leave this here.

http://forums.somethingawful (dot ) com/showthread.php?threadid=3547077&pagenumber=32&perpage=40#post415212626

It's okay being a homer sometimes for small market teams. Also sports writers like this always ignore things like stats.

In case you are wondering it's a comparison of "clutch" statistics like how well the QB performs in situations of 7 points or less. This one in particular is a comparison between Luck and Newton.


Bengoodfella said...

I can't get that link to work for some reason. Can you re-link it?

There was a guy who wrote on a couple SBNation sites about a comparison of Luck/Newton/Wilson/Griffin and got a lot of people into a tizzy. I avoided the conversation because I really didn't care to comment, but I would like to read what you linked.

Anonymous said...

Hoping the formatting holds up.

Final Margin 0-7
Luck 222-407, 54.5%, 7.0 YPA, 16/9 TD/Int, 80.6 QBR
Cam 138-251, 55.0%, 7.7 YPA, 08/6 TD/Int, 80.7 QBR

4TH QTR, +/-7 PTS
Luck 51-89, 57.3%, 7.7 YPA, 4/1 TD/Int, 92.3 QBR
Cam 36-59, 61.0%, 9.4 YPA, 2/1 TD/Int, 96.5 QBR

Behind by 1-8 Points
Luck 91-170, 53.5%, 7.7 YPA, 8/6 TD/Int, 80.0 QBR
Cam 79-142, 55.6%, 8.5 YPA, 6/3 TD/Int, 89.0 QBR

There you go. Yes Luck has more touchdowns (and interceptions) but he also quite a few more attempts.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, what's funny about those stats is that Luck is more clutch in close least in terms of accuracy. His completion percentage was 54% for the year, but in the fourth quarter his completion % is just above 57%.

It's interesting to me. Obviously it doesn't mean Luck won't improve during his 2nd year in the NFL, but it seems based on those stats Newton is the better QB in all three situations.

Luck does have more TD's and a better TD:INT ratio in close games, which says a lot, but he does also have more attempts. This also doesn't factor in either QB's running ability, which is a big plus for Newton as well.

I think Luck will improve next year, but I also don't think Newton has been as bad as he is given credit for being. I'm interested to see how he performs in season 3 of his career, of course it doesn't help I have very little faith in his OC, Mike Shula.