Tuesday, the future of the NFC South was shaken up a bit around the Carolina Panthers when Saints head coach Sean Payton announced that he was stepping away from the New Orleans Saints after a 16-year stint as the team's head coach. This is a major blow for a Saints team who was already going through the process of replacing the legendary Drew Brees and will now have to find a way to replace the most successful coach in franchise history.
It's no secret that the Panthers are in desperate need of offensive line help and late last week, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had the team addressing that need. In his first mock draft of the season, he had the team taking Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross, the third tackle off the board behind Alabama tackle Evan Neal, who he had going 3rd to the Texans, and Ikem Ekwonu, who he had going 5th to the Giants.
Jim Phillips, the commissioner of the ACC, is one of the main reasons that the College Football Playoff committee has not been able to agree on a deal to expand the playoff field. On a call with the media a couple of weeks ago, he explained that this is not an issue with the playoff itself, but rather with everything that is going on with college athletics at one time. Phillips has said that he wants to take a more "holistic approach" to the expansion and that right now the idea of staying at four teams is best for the time being.
The Panthers' offensive line issues are extremely well known locally and might be the biggest thing holding this Panther offense back under Matt Rhule. While there may not be an easy solution to the question mark that is this Panther team in the trenches, Joe Marino of The Draft Network released an article the other day breaking down how he would go about repairing this offensive line and allowing them to draft a quarterback this offseason in one fell swoop.
The Hornets suffered one of, if not their most disappointing loss of the season on Friday to the Orlando Magic in Charlotte, but they had an opportunity to get things back on track against a New York Knicks team that appeared to be getting themselves together after a rather disappointing start. They did just that with a dominant 97-87 win which was led by a career performance from Miles Bridges, who dropped 38 points on 14-20 shooting, and another nice afternoon from Terry Rozier, who finished with 22 points of his own.
Arm length had been a big storyline around Matt Rhule and the Panthers ever since he made the comments about them thinking of Brady Christensen as a guard because of his short arms. Rhule told the Mac Attack on Thursday that one of his biggest regrets from the season was not sticking with Christensen at left tackle after the Giants game where he struggled, making many fans angry that this was something that he didn't realize in season. Combine that with the fact that he revealed to the Mac Attack in his interview that the staff passed on second team All-Pro Rashawn Slater because they felt that he was a guard and the team wasn't willing to take a guard that high.
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule's job status might be the most polarizing storylines in both the city of Charlotte sports and in the NFL as the days go by and the owner of the team remains silent. Albert Breer of Monday Morning Quarterback said in answer a mailbag question on the site yesterday that nothing can be officially ruled out here because of what happened with Jeffrey Lurie and Doug Pederson a year ago where Pederson was let go more than a week after the conclusion of the season. On Thursday morning, Rhule took to the airwaves of WFNZ and talked to both the Mac Attack and the Wilson & Norfleet show to discuss his job status heading into year three and much, much more.
While the expectation that the Panthers will end up keeping Matt Rhule for his third season with the Carolina Panthers, yesterday's firing of Joe Judge by the New York Giants has some wondering whether or not there is still a chance that David Tepper could still make the move for a new head coach. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk was on with the Panthers earlier this morning and said that we won't really know what the exact decision until Tepper comes out and confirms it. Florio believes that Jay Glazer, who reported that Daivd Tepper is looking for Matt Rhule to hire a rockstar offensive coordinator, is right and that Tepper could be waiting to see what Rhule comes up with before making an official decision, something that he says is crazy.
The college basketball season has started to heat up, as conference play is in full swing. Believe it or not, we are just under 9 weeks away from receiving the 68 team bracket, for the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Duke entered the season with high expectations, as they brought in another loaded recruiting class, for Coach K's final season as their head coach. The Blue Devils have earned some marquee wins early on in the season, topping both Kentucky and Gonzaga on neutral floors. Their only blemish before Saturday's loss home to Miami was at Ohio State, a team with legitimate Big 10 title aspirations. One of those highly touted incoming freshmen was Paolo Banchero, who will be a lottery pick later this summer in the NBA Draft. While Banchero has lived up to the hype, as he's averaging over 17 points per game, you could make the argument he hasn't been the best player for Duke this season. That title belongs to junior Wendell Moore Jr, who is averaging over 16 points, nearly 6 rebounds, and 5 assists per game. After an up and down start to his college career, the game has slowed down for Moore, and he is reaping the benefits, and earning praise for his play. Former ACC standout Randolph Childress, joined the Mac Attack this morning, and had this to say about Moore's play"
With the Panthers heading into the final week of the regular season out of the playoff race, the focus for the Panther fan base seems to be on positioning the team in the best spot in the draft to get a piece that this team desperately needs. Left tackle is the spot that most people are looking at with the Panthers top ten pick with names like Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu and Charles Cross amongst those that are being looked at in this range as part of a strong tackle class.