Really Stunk it Up So Far

IF IT’S A PANTHER, DON’T ANTHER How could it have possibly gotten worse this year for Carolina football fans? Consider: Your answer to replacing fading RB Lamar Smith is fading RB Stephen Davis. Your answer to ongoing QB woes is perpetual backup Jake Delhomme.

Your team grabs TWO offensive linemen with its first two picks, and the biggest talk around town is whether the PUNTER will be re-signed. I’d donate my season tickets to a charity auction if I thought they’d bring anything. They’d better hope soph RB DeShaun Foster comes around and DE Julius Peppers stays healthy, or a return to 1-15 is looking possible.

DESERT STENCH The worst team in the NFL no longer resides in Cincinnati. Arizona Crudinals, how do I pity thee? Let me count the ways: (1) Downgrading from Jake Plummer to Jeff Blake. You don’t think it’s a downgrade? Consider: Could Blake start for Denver? Could Blake start ANYwhere else in the league? See what I mean? (2) “Hi, I used to be Emmitt Smith.” (3) Giving up the 1.06, the 2.05, and the 4.05 to get the 1.17 and 1.18 was bad enough on Draft Day One. They then selected a WR from a college program that doesn’t pass the ball often, along with the first-ever first-round pick from Wake Forest, the losingest team in college football history. They could’ve traded all the way out of the first round and gotten equal talent. (4) Unless the rookie WRs (and summer FAs) are starters this year, Blake will be throwing to Jason McAddley & Kevin Kasper. Horrifying. SAVING GRACE: Selecting underrated Anquan Boldin at 2.22 (will probably be at least as good a pro as 1st-rounder Johnson) and getting a real steal at 3.06 in ILB Gerald Hayes.

RANCID CHEESE Packer backers must have had their faith severely shaken when the first-round choice was named: Nick Barnett, OLB, Oregon St. Hey, I had that guy graded as the SIXTH-best OLB in the draft. They passed up Boss Bailey for Nicky boy? Way, way, way reach. It’s almost as bad a move as reeling in Eric Crouch, the least deserving Heisman winner in recent memory, and giving him a shot at QB. Sure, it don’t cost nothin’, but Wisconsin, this is just embarrassing. Who’s next, Ryan Leaf? Well, at least they punted Terry Glenn to Dallas…..

SPINNING PATRIOTIC WHEELS New England gave up safety Tebucky Jones, freeing some cap space and getting a few picks…..which they promptly wasted. They looked goofy in the 1st round, trading up to get DT Ty Warren, who would’ve been available much later, and used one of their 2nd-rounders on his Texas A&M; teammate, WR Bethel Johnson. (Name any worthwhile wideout to come from that storied program. Go ahead, do some research. I’ll wait.) Finally, after a ground game that was just short of abominable last season, the Patriots have chosen to let it stay as is. This is the result of a weekend that saw the team make several deals, moving up and down within the draft and stockpiling picks for next year. If this offseason is any indication, Bill Belichick may be in the rumor mill by late season to not be around to take advantage of those extra picks in 2004.

THE TARNISHED GARNET & GOLD The Niners have been on the right track for three years in a row…..and let it crumble to dust in three months. The loss of Coach Steve Mariucci and “consultant” Bill Walsh is inestimable.

The NFL re-entry of Dennis Erickson and escalation of Troy Donahue, a couple of fine college coaches, fills these shoes about as well as my little toe would on its own. While the draft garnered a few decent selections (including the almost-Irrelevant steal of QB Ken Dorsey, a good fit in SF), concern over the contracts of their receiving corps overshadows any mildly positive news. Inability to answer contract questions has also broken up a good D-line. At least the 49ers’ FANS won’t join the exodus to Oakland…..will they?

CHAMPS MAKE LIKE CHUMPS Yeah, yeah, so Chucky Baby is a QB guru. Enough already! He’s got two Johnsons, Shaun King, two recently-former Bears QBs, and now he can’t pass up way-overrated Chris Simms?! This is a sickness, Jon. Get help. Call 1-800-DRAFT-RB now. Oops, too late. Oh, and they’ve brought back Jacquez Green. Huh?

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