Byline: Chris Logue
Hey, I’m back and would like to apologize to Reed, but especially the faithful readers of the POV over the last two weeks. There were legitimate reasons for my absence, such as classwork obligations as well as rebounding from a brief identity-theft crisis that erupted out of nowhere; but again, I am back and ready to keep this train rolling.
Now, to the important stuff…
Paris Ford is official. He is a Panther. He is finally a Panther. While that’s wonderful to read, there were so many flaws in the way Pat Narduzzi handled the “breaking of the news” to the reporters. To me, it’s a mystery as to why so many flaws were evident, and it doesn’t fit the past of how he has handled media, the celebrity status of players and their importance to the team.
This time around, he highly contradicted himself.
I took a look at Jerry DiPaola’s write–up on TribLive.com. When it comes to the Pittsburgh media covering what’s in front of them, no one does it better than Jerry, so in times of needing quotes and understanding the effectiveness in conveying the quotes, I go to his work.
Paris Ford is on the field and able to run around with his teammates. He appears to have put on some weight, based solely on photos, but that’s not necessarily a negative thing. After all, he has been working-out alongside a perennial All-NFL player in Aaron Donald in the meantime.
Ford missed all 17 of the camp practices so far, placing him behind fellow position-mates in development at this level of play and has only taken mental-reps since Saturday during the scrimmage. I can’t speak for everyone, but ‘mental reps’ are not worth a grain of salt unless you’re actually out on the field putting thought into action. Still, contact was open with the coaches for feedback and guidance.
Almost everything else. From his introduction, to immediate dismissal of field-time and ending at the contradiction of beliefs as a coach. There’s few things I have disagreed with when it comes to Narduzzi running the show, and all but maybe one has occurred outside of today’s media frenzy on the South Side. We can get into the other instance should it happen again in 2017.
First, his introduction.
It’s a known fact that Pat Narduzzi doesn’t make the true freshmen available to the media unless they have noteworthy plays or clearly have the opportunity to play and be a contributor to the successes of the Panthers during the season. I think back to Damar Hamlin and Chawntez Moss from last season’s camp; Hamlin was absent from the media during camp but Moss was made available. Injuries were a factor into Hamlin eventually seeing the field, but yet, both ultimately saw the field and only one had the chance to talk to the media congregation after practices.
However, this time around for a player that had incredible hurdles to clear, the red carpet was rolled out to make a grand entrance to the media… Immediate head-scratching ensues –
“I have a little surprise for you guys,” he said while blowing his whistle to summon Ford in front of reporters. “You’ve got seven seconds (he told Ford),” DiPaola writes.
So, not only does he draw attention by blowing his whistle to bring out Ford, he goes on to say this, “Expectations-wise, he’s 17 days late,” Narduzzi said. “We’re not saying ‘Let’s go, Paris. You’re the savior.’ ”That isn’t going to happen. In my opinion, he’s going to redshirt. If something else happens besides that, it’s a miracle pretty much. It’s too hard to come in as a kid like that.”
True, it is too hard to come in as a kid like that, but you put him on a stage in front of everyone to make that fact a close relative of a myth by hitching to Ford like a parade float, showing him off. In my opinion, let him practice, answer bluntly the questions as had been done through camp until now, and let him be. If it was Grant Carrigan struggling to become eligible, I have full-faith in believing he would gather less desire from Pat Narduzzi to march him out there to just say “hello.”
I get it, as being hailed a program-reviver by media and fans alike, Narduzzi did each a service by doing exactly what he did; but, it crossed the line that the very same head coach had previously drawn and established himself. It’s precedence in the midst of preferred anonymity.
Secondly and unprovoked, Narduzzi washed off the idea of not only Ford contributing, but playing at all in 2017. In the eyes of the decisionmaker it’s just not going to happen, barring the aforementioned miracle.
I will be the first to tell you thatI find that to be the biggest joke of it all. Ford will play, book it in, he will play. Week one? Probably not, but it’s been said before by a coach and I unfortunately cannot remember the exact instance, that Ford possesses the talent and enough football wits that missing time in camp won’t have a dire impact on the season that can be had by the true freshman.
What’s really happening is Narduzzi is buying himself and his staff time to acclimate Paris to the college landscape, on and off the field, while not having to be faced with answering future questions about his prospectus for starting and playing early. Deep down, I know he believes Ford will work himself into the fold at safety. Clearly, as far as hype can take us, Ford is a better option than Briggs, Garner and Campbell to play alongside Jordan Whitehead when back from suspension.
Maybe I am just misguided with my comments and reaction to today’s breaking news from camp by Pat Narduzzi but I strongly felt there were better ways for coach to go about announcing his arrival to South Side as a player and not a spectator. Again, I am ecstatic Paris Ford is eligible and we don’t have to re-recruit him throughout the season.
For a coach so enamored with taking things in stride, this was a certain misstep.