The term I've used to characterize the Carolina Panthers under John Fox is 'consistently inconsistent'. This term goes beyond purely win/loss records and goes into the realm of how games are planned, how they are executed, and how individual players step up. Never has this moniker been more prevalent than in the 2010 season. Each week it seems someone is going to step up, and someone is going to regress; it can be maddening to say the least.
Despite the Panthers 20-7 loss on Sunday I remain optimistic about the future of this team; what remains to be seen is whether this optimism will come to fruition in the immediate future, or the not so immediate one.
The lunatic fringe are bailing already. Pulling their Champ Bailey Redskins jerseys out of the attic and browsing NFL Shop.com for the best price on a McNabb replica jersey. To those Panthers 'fans' who have already left I say good riddance, it was always a little uneasy with you hanging around anyway.
Panthers are 0-3, just like last year. They lost to arguably the best team we've seen in 2010, as the Bengals improved to 2-1, though they didn't play up to their pedigree. Concurrently, several individual players didn't play up to their pedigree meaning again the Panthers lost due to a failure in execution. So, lets go inside the game and single some people out shall we? Anyone have a lame duck we can put on one side of the scale in this witch hunt? (Extra credit to whoever gets the movie reference)
After the jump
Let's go ahead and discuss the 10,000 lb emu in the room: Jimmy Clausen.
Prior to the game in the open thread I predicted 16-24, 186 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT for Clausen. He finished 16/33, 188, 0 TD, 1 INT... so he was fairly close to what I thought. I didn't predict he'd have as much trouble with the wet football on the fumbles, but everyone did on Sunday (look at Palmer's stat line). In the end Clausen was the better QB on the field on Sunday, completing more passes, more yards per attempt and finishing with a better QB rating.
Now that we have three weeks under our belt I don't know how anyone could argue Moore looked better in his two starts than Clausen did today. Several people liked to play the 'what if?' game with Moore, so what if Goodson hadn't dropped an easy 3rd down play and another easy catch... what if?
The first half Clausen looked lost with the speed of the game, fumbling twice and making a not terrible throw, but an INT nonetheless as he tried to thread the needle to a covered Steve Smith. To me it looked like he underestmated Leon Hall more than anything thinking Smith could get the ball with Hall in his pocket.
Particularly in the second half everything seemed to click for Clausen as he posted 15/28, 174 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT for a QB rating of 72.14... not impressive, but solid for a rookie.
I liked what I saw out of Clausen, I think the kid's going to be just fine. Let's look at the rest of our motley crew.
Charles Godfrey- Extremely Optimstic: Nice to get Charles on this side of the column. He did exactly what his position dictates, he was a safety valve. Godfrey finished with 9 tackles and an interception without giving up any bad plays. Overall he had a very solid game.
Jon Beason- Extremely Optimsitic: I hear people saying that Beason needs to be back in the middle, but the stats don't really show that to be the case. His 9 tackles yesterday give him 28 in three games, on pace for 150 tackles- his best as a Carolina Panther.
James Anderson- Extremely Optimistic: He's really stepped up and owned the SAM spot. 9 tackles yesterday he's the Panthers' leading tackler. Good stops on third down too.
DeAngelo Williams- Extremely Optimistic: 6.4 ypc... why didn't we run him more than 10 times? There has to be a light bulb that goes on in the coaching staff's head about who the hot hand is.
Jimmy Clausen- Somewhat Optimsitic: See above
God- Somewhat Optimistic: Nobody died (a homage to the CSR community last week).
Mike Goodson- Extremely Pessimistic: Oh how the mighty have fallen. Goodson was bad yesterday, easy drops and a comical fumble that deserves a place on 'NFL football follies'. I love how Goodson was effective one game so now we're going to see him over, and over, and over again whether he fits the situation or not.
Dwayne Jarrett- Extremely Pessimistic: Only three WRs active and he's not one of them? They need to cut him already.
Jonathan Stewart- Extremely Pessimistic: Just a bad game for J-Stew punctuated with a bad fumble. It was an abnormal game, but abnormally bad enough to be recognized as such.
Honestly, that's about it.... I could go on and on and nit pick every player for every bad play but ultimately there were only a few players who were truly terrible. It was just that as a whole everyone was just a little off, a step behind, a day late or a dollar short. Everyone, all 53 need to tighten up their games... a lot.
I'm used to the feeling of 0-3, so really this isn't so bad. I saw enough from Jimmy Clausen to think he could evolve into something special and the fact is if Stewart runs like he did against TB and DeAngelo plays the same game we're in good shape. I just wish everyone could become consistent at the same time.
70% optimistic heading into the game vs. New Orleans