Good morning Panther faithful! What more is there to say about Sunday's game other than the Oxford dictionary's definition of the word 'tantalize':
torment or tease (someone) with the sight or promise of something that is unobtainable
Anyone else feel like we were tantalized with promise in the first half only to be slammed back down to earth in the second? I know I do.
Amidst confusion about who was actually the offensive coordinator (Fox's sideline reporter called RB coach Jim Skipper "Offensive Coordinator") the Carolina Panthers looked nothing like the 1-10 team we've become accustomed to in 2010. But then something happened; as the Seattle Seahawks inducted Walter Jones into their 'Ring of honor' with two minutes to go it was almost like Dante Alighieri inducted the Carolina Panthers into his divine comedy, as the Panthers experienced nine circles of hell throughout the second half. (How's that for hyperbole!)
In all seriousness though, Sunday's game was supremely deflating. It didn't matter that we were playing the NFL's 30th ranked pass defense, for those fleeting moments in the 1st quarter Jimmy Clausen could do no wrong. The discussion of Andrew Luck was reduced to an inaudible whisper only to return in a raucous refrain in the second, It wasn't just Jimmy Clausen who destroyed the Carolina Panthers' chances... but it's undeniable that his costly pick-six that made the game 17-14 early in the second half was the death knell for Carolina.
Let's break it all down, hand out some cheer and jeers after the jump... shall we?
Advance Warning: QB conversation commencing
I feel it's needed at this point to offer an advanced warning for this kind of thing. Let me let you all in on a little secret: Literally thousands of people read this article every week and recently the comment section has become completely and utterly derailed by a handful of people. For the sake of the other thousands who don't comment I feel it would be irresponsible of me as a writer to ignore a hot button topic like the QB situation, but at the same time I can't constantly allow everything to denigrate into a dog fight about the quarterbacks. So... I have a simple task for those of you who don't think you can talk about the QBs without being reduced to name calling; scroll down... simply scroll down. When you see the kittens you can start reading again. I feel that this will ease the tensions in the comment section. Also, if you feel yourself getting worked up then scroll up! Look at the kittens... it helps!
Honestly, I can't promise that Andrew Luck is the answer at the QB position, nobody can. That being said it would be difficult to not be a step up over what we have right now. Jimmy Clausen took two huge steps forward in the first half, only to take three monstrous ones back in the second. I understand the arguments about the offensive line's ineptitude, or the play calling being lackluster but really, franchise quarterbacks aren't made when the blocking is perfect and the play calling is dialed in; they're made when the chips are down, everything is failing and through a mixture of sheer will, determination and motivation they are able to make the best of what is happening. It's a similar trap several fans fell into when they proclaimed Matt Moore as 'the answer' based on last year's closing performances.
Forget about everything else regarding the statistics for a second. If your QB throws more pick-6s than touchdowns you're going to lose; simple as that. Jimmy Clausen made plenty of NFL throws, but he also made plenty of college level mistakes to go along with them. He has to get better at throwing over the DL as he had yet another batted pass. His INT was also a slow release on a back footed throw after rolling out of the pocket, this throw is definitely a Jake Delhomme or Matt Moore special, and honestly I've tried that special enough to know it's no good.
So in keeping with the tracking the Panthers sit at 1-11 and Clausen sits at 50% completion, 1 TD, 6 INTs and a QB rating of 55.5. These aren't very inspiring numbers either given that his 5th and 6th starts were worse than his second. He is improving, but I feel there is not enough time to derail the Andrew Luck train, and rightfully so in my mind as I will start a 'Luck watch' along with a Clausen watch.
This week against Oregon State he finished with: 21/30 for 305 yards and 4 touchdowns. Hard to ignore 70% completion and play making to boot. With that our QB conversation is complete, for now.
Now... where were we? Dante's inferno reference? Check... Kittens? Check... Insinuating a Seahawks' fan is a child molester? Check (see photo caption). Okay... well I guess we've reached the point for ratings right? This should be fun!
Jonathan Stewart- Extremely Optimistic: 92 yards on 21 carries. Sure the YPC is a little low, but he moved the chains and did so very well.
Mike Goodson- Extremely Optimistic: Didn't get to see him a lot due to an injured shoulder (which apparently happened on a KR) but still he made an impact when the ball was in his hands both in the running game and the return game.
Captain Munnerlyn- Extremely Optimistic: Played a very solid game with 8 tackles. an INT and 3 passes defended. He did everything he could against Seattle.
Jason Williams, James Anderson and John Beason- Extremely Optimistic: At this point we have so much promise at LB we don't even know what to do with it. There's not enough room for both the J Williams', James Anderson, Thomas Davis, Dan Connor and Eric Norwood. At OLB it's an embarrassment of riches.
Charles Johnson- Extremely Optimsitic: Another week, another sack. For those keeping count that's 4 in the last three weeks. He also hit Matt Hasselbeck another 4 times proving it's not just Julius Peppers who can be 'disruptive'.
Jason Baker- Extremely Optimistic: 7 punts on a 45.6 yard average and an epic TD saving ankle tap. Great game.
Tyrell Sutton- Somewhat Optimsitic: Played decently when needed.
Tony Fiametta- Somewhat Optimistic: A much improved game from the lead blocker. Caught a good pass and ran one too.
The entire second half- Extremely Pessimistic: Seriously... what the hell happened to the team at half time? I would have loved to be a fly on the wall.
Offensive Line- Extremely Pessimistic: Just terrible in the second half. Some truly terrible blocking stopped the Panthers before they could start.
Jimmy Clausen- Extremely Pessimistic: A lot of the sins of the QB are on the offensive line and play calling but nobody threw the pick-six for Jimmy, nor did anyone else fumble the snap; those are on him and him alone.
Richard "Dick" Marshall- Extremely Pessimistic: Terrible game by Marshall... par for the course this year.
Brandon LaFell- Somewhat Pessimistic: Started decently, but dropped two end-zone passes. He just can'y do that.
Greg Hardy- Somewhat Pessimistic: Missed some assignments and made some bad rookie mistakes. He had moments, but more often than not he had a rough game.
I'd say there's one winnable game left now vs. Arizona. Other than that the Panthers seem to be dead in the water against Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Should be curious to see how we look against two of the best team's in the NFL. I think it could be a bloodbath.
On the plus side we're hurtling towards the end of the season and some changes are ahead!
1% optimistic as the Panthers face the 10-2 Falcons.