Carolina Panthers' Monday Morning Optimist- 1/2/11

CHARLOTTE NC - DECEMBER 19: Fans hang a sign for head coach John Fox of the Carolina Panthers during their game against the Arizona Cardinals at Bank of America Stadium on December 19 2010 in Charlotte North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Good morning Panther faithful. Well, all good things come to an end, and so do terrible ones. The Carolina Panthers finished Sunday afternoon in Atlanta with yet another loss leading to a 2-14 record on the year. Technically the season wasn't as bad as 2001's 1-15 season, but the argument can definitely be made that the 2010 season was worse.

It was a season marred by injury, players not playing to their potential, some guys not stepping up and all of this under the umbrella of terrible coaching and game-planning. That being said, it's all over now... as it stands on this Monday morning we're 0-0 again waiting for the next season to start, hopeful it will be in 7 months, but realizing it could be 19 before we see the Panthers on the field again.

Don't for a second think that the 2011 offseason will be as pedestrian as the 2010 one. With a new head coach needed, a plethora of free agents needing new deals, the #1 pick in the NFL draft and $70 million to spend it portends to be a fascinating offseason for the Panthers; arguably the most interesting in team history.

In fact the offseason starts tonight as Stanford face Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. I say this because General Manager Marty Hurney has delayed talking to the press today and rescheduled to tomorrow after the Orange Bowl. Though it's unlikely we will see a hiring this fast we know the Panthers will agressively pursue coach Jim Harbaugh, and we also know we can deliver something no other team, college or professionally can, a long term future with QB Andrew Luck.

Time will tell on th coaching situation, but let's hand out for New Year's cheers for some Panthers and move on to the next adventure in the last MMO of the 2010 season.

Sunday was the last game in the John Fox era, and while many choose to look at Fox as an unfortunate punchline characterizing the Panthers' failings there's still no doubt he was the best coach in the Carolina Panthers' short history. A team that only went to the playoffs once in their first six seasons went on to see the post season on three different occasions in nine seasons under Fox, including a Superbowl that could have easily been won without a kickoff going out of bounds.

There are many things I wont miss about the John Fox era; the lack of information after games, the clichéd sayings Fox would peddle in press conferences, a perceived lack of adjustments during games and a self destructive attachment to veterans. Fox has a lot of faults as a head coach, but it's tough to deny that when he's able to assert his dominance the Panthers did so.  

Through all of this John Fox was a class act. He echoed the personality of owner Jerry Richardson where he would rarely, if ever, let on the inner workings of his mind to the public. I was only a scant few occasions this season he gave out any information to the media; if we're going to put dramatic coaches on a scale one side is Rex Ryan, the other John Fox... they are polar opposites.

So, like Jake Delhomme before him I bid a fond adieu to head coach John Fox. It wasn't always great, but we had enough good times that I'll always look back on his time here with fondness. This was truly a time where both sides needed to see greener pastures, and I wish coach Fox all the best, especially if he wants to spend much of his first draft's picks on Panthers players he wants... that would be great.

 

Today's rankings aren't so much based on Sunday alone, but rather an ode to what we have in 2011to look forward to.

 

Optimistic

Jon Beason- Extremely Optimistic: In the end, how awesome is Jon Beason? Heading into Sunday's game Beast needed 3 tackles to finish with over 100 on the season for the fourth time in four years... he got 12 and finished at 109 tackles.

Need something to be optimistic about for 2011? This guy.

 

Brandon LaFell and David Gettis- Extremely Optimistic: Though it took Brandon LaFell a little longer than Gettis to hit his stride the two finished 5th and 4th respectively in receiving yards by rookie WRs.

Need something to be optimistic about for 2011? These guys.

 

Charles Johnson- Extremely Optimistic: Remember when none of our DE's would amass to anything compared to Julius Peppers? Well, Charles Johnson and his 13.5 sacks say different.

Need something to be optimistic about for 2011? This guy.

 

Sherrod Martin- Extremely Optimsitic: In his first season as a starting FS Sherrod Martin did quite well. He filled the role he needed to and finished with 78 tackles, 3 FF and 1 INT. He has a bright future.

Need something to be optimistic about for 2011? This guy

 

And the list goes on- Greg Hardy, James Anderson, Captain Munnerlyn... and more. These are your 2011 Carolina Panthers until a new coach says differently and there is a lot to be optimistic for. 

 

Pessimistic

None: At this point pessimism has not place. We're 0-0 again and hope springs eternal. I would like to thank everyone for reading the MMO this year and making it one of the most read weekly sports columns across the web. Thanks to those who comment each week and thank you to those who would rather not comment. If I have supplied a little bit of optimism this season then I feel I have done my job, because make no mistake- the Carolina Panthers will be back.

 

100% optimistic heading into next season GO PANTHERS!

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