So, as my handle would suggest, I'm a fairly irrational fan when it comes to the Panthers. Rain or shine, I'm always convinced that they at the least have the TALENT to compete with the best; just sometimes step on their own dicks too much for their own good! However, as slight a connection as it may seem, me thinks that this season is bearing a lot of resemblance to our post super bowl year where we started off 1-7 (granted, our first win was in week 2 that year but after that game it was an UGLY 6 game losing streak). Bear with me as I go through some of the similarities....
So it's 2004, and we're coming off the most heart stopping, hope lifting, heart attack inducing season imaginable (and were THIIIIIIS close to closing out on the patriots if Mike minter holds on to a pass he jumped perfectly on the patriots final drive). Alas, the hangover would commence almost immediately, with a tough loss to the Packers on Monday night to start the season, made worse by losing Steve smith in the fourth quarter for what would turn out to be the entire season. Within the following six weeks, we'd ended up losing our top FOUR running backs, multiple defensive injuries, a couple on the O-line, Dan morgan suffered another concussion (Bless his heart though...that dude left everything on the field) and were in general....looking like the most dysfunctional (or unlucky) team in the land.
Fast forward to 2010: We enter the year on not quite as much a high note, but nonetheless were coming off a 5 game stretch were we had been playing up to the talent level that is present on the roster. The optimism surrounding the team was a lot more polarized this year, especially after the groan inducing preseason, but still there was a large contingent of us who were certain that the team would overcome its youth and at least start the season 3-2, 3-3...something to that effect. Of course as we all know, the youth came out in spades, the coaching looked lost, and in general it had seemed like an overall feeling of malaise had settled down in the team, making us feel the agony that Bills and Browns fans have been feeling for the better part of a decade!
But just when all hope is lost...we find ourselves down against the 49'ers! Ah what a great relief that was, for as any Panthers fan will tell you, there's no better way to get John Fox fired up than trailing the 49'ers ( I swear, he must think we're still in the NFC west, cause I haven't seen him that fired up on the sideline in awhile lol)! Just as it had been in 2004 (when we were down 17-0 at the half), we found ourselves not losing by quite that margin, but certainly looking a bit deflated after an ill advised ground ball found its way into the DL's hands and we were all of a sudden down 20-13.
Enter stage left, David Gettis. Just as it had been in 2004, we needed a spark to emerge from the depths of our offensive melacholy, and it emerged from the unlikeliest of sources. Sure, Matt having a career day was a pleasant surprise, but with David Gettis? The sixth rounder afterthought rookie WR? And with that, we had our Nick Goings (and shame on any panthers fan who doesn't remember Goings...tough SOB who basically saved our season in 2004 along with Moose). From the shadows of something far below mediocrity our offense rose, and with it we secured our first win of the season. For every one who remembers 2004, the feeling we had as a team after beating SF and going 2-7 was one of great elation, and in turn we came within inches (literally! Damn you mike vick and your pre-jail days acrobatic abilities!) of making the PLAYOFFS!!!! I understand its misguided optimism to think that we could put together a similar run this year, but in a year when the BROWNS can beat the 'aints with less than 70 yards of passing, I fully believe the team can use this seemingly mild victory as a springboard. Just reading and hearing the interviews, there's a new sense of hope in the lockerroom. Fox actually looks like he has a pulse now, and with the balance our Offensive playcalling showed on sunday, I wouldn't be surprised if Jeff Davidson is going vegetarian and spending some much needed time on the treadmill! It may have taken 10 weeks to accomplish (including the preseason) but it seems like the sleeping giant that our team could be has finally awoken from its slumber...so here's to hoping the similarities stay true; that Matt moore goes on a tear and posts number not unlike Jake did with Moose and KEARY COLBERT in 2004; that the running game finds its spark and williams or stewart rips off a 100 yd. streak on par with Goings's, and that the Defense continues to play strong...and that hopefully, once the new CBA is in place, we can laugh in the face of every team that splurged out this year and is on the hook for their team's salaries in the newer, cheaper NFL that is sure to emerge.