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Playing Nice: Cat Scratch Reader

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Bradley Smith gives us the lowdown on DJ Mangas and Jake Peetz

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The reshaping of the LSU football coaching staff began Wednesday when Jake Peetz and DJ Mangas, both formerly of the Carolina Panthers, were hired to fill the roles vacated by Steve Ensminger and Scott Linehan respectively.

Mangas and Peetz come to LSU from the blossoming Joe Brady coaching tree; in fact Ed Orgeron asked his former passing game coordinator who Brady felt could run his offense and he recommended Mangas and Peetz.

To get a better idea of what Mangas and Peetz bring to LSU, I reached out to Bradley Smith, editor of the SB Nation Carolina Panthers site Cat Scratch Reader.

1) First of all, your overall impression of the job Jake Peetz did with Teddy Bridgewater?

It’s a mixed bag, really, and I’m not sure how much of it’s on Peetz and how much of it’s on Bridgewater. If you just look at numbers you’ll see a quarterback who completed 69.1 percent of his passes, accounted for 20 touchdowns (15 passing, 5 rushing) and threw for 3,733 yards. The Panthers also had four players with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, three of which were wide receivers. But on the other hand, the Panthers were 0-8 in games when they had a chance to win in their final drive, and Bridgewater was responsible for the majority of those drives not producing the points needed to win. He threw 11 interceptions on the year, and if I recall correctly four of them were in the end zone, so he had a tendency to make critical mistakes at the worst possible time. He also had a tendency to throw short of the sticks on third down and depend on his receivers to pick up the yardage needed after the catch. Again, I’m not sure how much of that’s on Peetz and how much of it’s on Bridgewater, because as an NFL veteran quarterback he is who he is at this point in his career.

The only other quarterback who saw real action this year was PJ Walker, and it’s hard to evaluate the job Peetz did with him because he wasn’t really given much of a chance to move the offense. He started the one game that Bridgewater missed, a 20-0 win over the Lions, where he was 24-of-34 for 258 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. (The Lions were awful and pretty much gave up in the fourth quarter.) So again it’s sort of a mixed bag.

2) Ed Orgeron asked Joe Brady who he knows that can run his offense and Brady singled out Peetz. Can Peetz bring the Joe Brady magic back to Baton Rouge?

I think it’s possible. If Brady singled him out then he must know something that I don’t know, which is entirely possible considering he’s around him seven days a week. I’ll go back to my answer to your previous question: the Panthers became the fifth team in NFL history to have four players reach 1,000 scrimmage yards, and they did that with Teddy Bridgewater — probably the most conservative starting quarterback in NFL history — under center. If I were an LSU fan, I’d feel confident that Peetz can recreate that if Brady believes he can.

3) The biggest hole on Peetz’s resume can’t be ignored: he’s never called plays. LSU’s not the kind of program to hand that big of a job to a first-timer, especially coming off the heels of a disappointing season. Does Peetz lack of experience give you any hesitation?

I think that should be the biggest cause for hesitation, and it’s one of the reasons I was surprised they hired him. I think if Brady singled him out there has to be a reason for it, but not having the experience of actually calling plays in a game could end up making this experiment a failure. It has the potential to be a great move, but it could also be a disaster.

4) Hold on let me use my most extreme Office Space voice *ahem* DJ Mangas, what would you say...he did at Carolina? All I could find was he was an offensive assistant for the Panthers, what does that mean?

He was our running backs coach in 2019 and moved to quarterbacks coach in 2020, so his job last year was to basically tell Christian McCaffrey “Hey, good job!” approximately five thousand times. He probably filled out the TPS reports too, because I’m sure Joe Brady didn’t have time for that.

5) There were several reasons why LSU was so awesome in 2019, one of the biggest being how well Joe Brady, passing game coordinator, and Steve Ensminger, offensive coordinator, worked together. How well do Mangas and Peetz work together?

Well, that’s something I really can’t answer because our offensive line was a disaster this year due to lack of talent and injury, and Mangas was a new hire brought in when Matt Rhule took over. Also, Peetz was only here for two years in which the team went a combined 10-22, so I honestly don’t know what you’ll get by pairing the two of them together, but for your sake I hope it works out.