The 2011 Panthers are performing quite well, despite our record. We all know the positions where opportunity exists for improvement, so I will not be addressing those in this article. Between the injuries and the inexperience, nothing has been a shock so far this season. I had previously made predictions on earlier posts that this team would experience at least two ass-kickings and 6-7 losses by a touchdown or less. We are right on schedule!
I know that losing is tough, and by no means am I hoping for losses this season, but I am ecstatic about this team's future! I'm not concerned with our 2012 draft position either. I'm concerned with this teams growth, and what we are seeing is growth. What is usually tough for young players is mastering multiple skills. Once one skill is learned, you must then move on to learn the next skill while keeping the original skill in mind. This would be similar to dancing, especially with the male lead. The male lead must learn the moves, the rhythm, and how to lead with the rhythm. Then the male lead must learn to do all this without running into other people on the dance floor. As one learns each new skill, it is extremely difficult to keep the other skills in mind because they are not automatic yet, so it will appear as though there is regression. This is also similar to learning how to drive a car and often times referred to as muscle memory. With all this in mind...
This team is growing fast, although it may not appear that way. The improvement from key positions has been outstanding. Cam Newton's development is by far the most obvious. Charles Johnson and James Anderson have been stellar and the growth of Greg Hardy has been great to watch. The injuries that this team has had have slowed this progress, but that is to be expected in this game. We are seeing bright spots each week and in some cases regression the following week on those previous breakthroughs. That is what is normal during a growth process. For example, the kick return game finally had a flash of success with Pilares KR TD. Look for some regression on kick returns before that becomes the norm.
Our known weakness will eventually be resolved. The important part to remember is that this team needs solid growth. Lucky wins don't provide long term stable growth, and I'm glad that this team isn't getting lucky. These Panthers will be so much better going forward when they can look back and see that they could've won, but didn't finish the opposing team off. These types of losses have the tendency to build killer instinct. I want to root for a team that goes out to crush it's opponent, not a team that goes out there to keep it competitive and hope for lucky breaks. Growth with a lot of disappointment along the way can develop into that killer instinct attitude.
So when you are feeling down and frustrated about inconsistency resulting in losses, just remember the following: "Without struggle, there is no progress." -Frederick Douglass
FYI: A lot of comments are thrown around about certain veteran players being too old and needing to be replaced. These comments are generally exaggerated and this idea of a player being too old because they reach a certain age are ridiculous. Just because "experts" have coined the idea doesn't make it correct. There are no championship teams lacking older veterans. Players that take care of their bodies and continue to build on their skills are not expendable when they turn 30. I'm referring to Jordan Gross, Travelle Wharton, Steve Smith, Chris Gamble and DeAngelo Williams. The most absurd idea I've read on here was that Gamble is getting old? Gamble is hitting his prime and some folks want to see him off? Your garbage will end up being another man's gold and you will forever be a rebuilding franchise with that type of shortsightedness.