Speed Doesn't Always Kill
Coach Idreis Bird would most certainly disagree with me on this point, but let me explain. Speed won Carpenter a lot of games earlier in his career; however, this is the highest level of competition and there is much more that goes into the process of team building. “I underestimated the learning curve,” Carpenter stated, and that he did. One of Coach Carpenter’s earliest trade talks involved the fastest WR in the league, John Ross III of the Cincinnati Bengals. As much as he was convinced that this move would make his team, he was dead wrong.
As mentioned before, Carpenter is very much a defensive minded guy. From a team building aspect, the defense in Carolina was put together pretty nicely. The coaching staff made a nightmare pass rusher out of Brian Burns and the Byron Jones trade that was heavily criticized worked out in the Panther's favor. In a league that was all about pass rush, Carolina had one of the best defensive fronts. While defense is very important, it can only do so much when the offense is consistently turning the ball over two to three times a game.
The Panthers organization and coach Carpenter may have thought Cam was their QB, but this mistake single handedly set the team back for seasons to come. Why they decided to keep Cam Newton and not develop young Kalen Clemons, drafted in the first round the previous year, still beats me. Clemons had superstar potential and just needed a few seasons of work before he tapped into it. When the organization would finally move on from Newton and give Clemons the reigns, Clemons still had too much to learn. The Panthers would move on from Clemons and eventually sign Jesse Zamora. Zamora had a previous stint with Jacksonville where he won a Super Bowl and Carpenter was hoping this was the answer to his prayers at the QB position. The massive contract that Zamora received from Carolina was not reflected in his play, and the Panthers would fall short of the playoffs once again.
Carpenter had the weapons to be successful in Carolina but he ultimately wasn't able to get the job done. With the learning curve presumably over, where does Carpenter find himself coaching next season? While there are no doubts in his ability to build a defense, can he build an offense to compliment the defensive side of the ball? I know one thing; Speed Doesn't Always Kill...but turnovers do.