If the Panthers ever hope to be competitive again they have to learn from these tough losses. Blowing a 16 point half time lead falls in that category for me. The Panthers are the 2nd youngest team in the league and that seems to have a different way of manifesting itself on a weekly basis. For two game we were able to overcome it. Last week it returned for a vengeance.
So what can the Panthers (and fans) learn from last week's game or any from the previous 12? More importantly are there any lessons in particular that could help us win this Sunday in Houston against the playoff bound Texans? I've got a top 5, in no particular order:
Lesson 1: In spite of the low NFL ranking, the Panther defense can hold RB Arian Foster to below his 87 rushing yards per game average. The past two weeks they held Legarrette Blount well below his average (19 yds vs 67 avg) and kept Michael Turner within his (76 yds vs 82 avg). I think for the Panthers to win they must continue the streak even if it means stacking 8 in the box.
Lesson 2: The Panthers can win a game when Cam Newton causes a turnover. Though it's never happened yet it should have happened last week. Had Mare hit that 4th quarter field goal and then the defense held then the streak would have stopped at 8 losses and we would feel a lot better right now. Cam did enough to break the streak, the other two phases of the team is who let us down.
Three more after the jump...
Lesson 3: Fewer penalties sure makes it easier to get a lead. I know its hard to control the level of penalties on any given Sunday but if we could at least reduce the major ones that would be a good start.
Lesson 4: Good special teams can be huge. We saw both ends of the spectrum last Sunday. In the 1st quarter Captain Munnerlyn downing that punt inside the 5 yard line set up the defensive safety by DE Antwan Applewhite and seemed to give the Panthers a double dose of momentum and a 23-7 halftime lead. Then in the 4th quarter Mare misses the chip shot FG and the defense is so deflated it allows a 75 yard TD play. I admit this is not a new lesson for anyone just simply a great example of both ends of the spectrum.
Lesson 5: We need to adjust the halftime adjustments. How about this week after we set up the halftime adjustments we instead do just the opposite? Seriously, we seem to go from dynamic to predictable on offense and from stout to porous on defense during the halftime break. I think it time to rethink the halftime process.
I tried to stay away from singling out specific Panther player in this post because we have that discussion often enough. So without picking on single players what lessons would to add to this list?