A much cliched football axiom is Denny Green's famous "They were who we thought they were" line when he was head coach for the Arizona Cardinals, and despite the respite we got in the form of a convincing win over Washington the Carolina Panthers are still who we thought they were- young, inexperienced and making the kind of mistakes that a young team makes.
Yesterday though it wasn't just the youth who let down the Carolina Panthers but established veterans like Steve Smith, Jordan Gross and Olindo Mare who all had uncharacteristic lapses of judgement that led to the team's loss. The most maligned of this triumvirate is Olindo Mare whose 31 yard miss quickly made him the scapegoat for the Panthers loss. Emotions regarding Mare ran the gamut from 'fire him' to 'Kasay wouldn't have missed that!' as Panthers fans quickly forget the 42 yarder Kasay missed against the Browns in 2010 which resulted in a loss, or fail to realize that halfway across the country Kasay was 0-1 in St. Louis yesterday also.
Bill Voth summed it up best on CSR yesterday in his piece in which he said "it never should have come down to that relatively short kick." That one line says it better than anything I could right now, so we'll let it speak for itself and move on.
More after the jump
The bye week couldn't be coming at a better time for the Panthers who need this week to regroup, re-strategize and assess their key positions for the second half of the season. As it stands I don't think there's any big moves that need to be made with the roster. The Panthers have the best people in place they can, and short of integrating Brandon Hogan into the defense there's not much that needs to be done. Improvements need to come in the execution of the game plan, and that can't be solved with moving people around.
If there's one major downside to finding a franchise QB in Cam Newton it's the hubris that has been bred inside the fan base. While the concern with Newton was that he would have an unhealthy ego Cam has proved to be the opposite, fans on the other hand are a whole other story; confidence has been replaced with arrogance to a level that a segment of the fan base truly believed Jared Allen would have no effect yesterday, and that Percy Harvin would have no impact. The result was Allen getting a critical sack fumble and Harvin finishing with 74 yards of offense and a touchdown. We're simply not good enough to believe any elite players can be nullified, not yet. Perhaps the bye week will help fans too as we take a step back, calm down and ready ourselves for the second half of the year.
Cam Newton- Extremely Optimistic Granted, Newton did have two critical fumbles in today's game after being hit but I'm willing to chalk those up on the OL as much as Cam. Ultimately he had an absolutely fantastic day and at this point if anyone is willing to suggest another player for offensive ROY they're an idiot... it's blunt, but true.
Captain Munnerlyn- Extremely Optimistic If you're like me you're getting tired of hearing the hosts on WFNZ denigrate Munnerlyn without any real crux to their argument other than his height. On Sunday he proved his tenacity as he did a wonderful job in coverage, got a huge sack and made a game changing take-away that if he didn't manage to pry the ball from Percy Harvin then the Panthers never would have had the chance to tie the game late.
Steve Smith- Extremely Optimistic It'd easy to be pissy and hold the holding call against him, but the fact of the matter is he still had a 7 receptions, 100 yard day and a TD.
Greg Olsen- Extremely Optimistic Great game by Thor... not much more to say really.
Legedu Naanee- Somewhat Optimistic He still makes some boneheaded plays here or there, and he drops an easy pass or two but for the most part on Sunday he was extremely effective.
Olindo Mare- Extremely Pessimistic Botched the kick, so he makes this section this week. I don't blame him for the loss, but he should have hit the chip shot.
Offensive Line- Somewhat Pessimistic They had an up and down day, but the bads resulted in costly turnovers which need to be accentuated this week.
Armanti Edwards- Somewhat Pessimistic The "he needs blocking!" excuse has definitely worn out its welcome when it comes to making excuses for lackluster punt returned. On one occasion he caught the ball too deep when he should have let it bounce, on another he had room to make a play but didn't and on the third he didn't really have a chance. Overall it was a poor game returning punts from AE.
When it's all said and done there were more positives than negatives on Sunday, but a bad play here or there was enough to turn the tide. Definitely a frustrating game, but hopefully the Panthers can use the bye week to right the ship and prepare themselves for the back-end of 2011.