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Ask a dozen Carolina Panthers fans what's wrong with this season's team and you will get a dozen different answers. Since the Giants game, fans have concocted all kinds of reasons why the Panthers are an average team and the entire organization is flawed. Maybe it is, maybe it's not.
But based on the facts that we currently have, most of the problems fans have with the 2012 Panthers are unfounded. I took five of the most popular myths and analyzed them. You may not agree with me, but it's worth at least taking a fresh look as the Panthers gear up for the remaining 11 games.
Myth 1: Panthers should not have poured big money into running backs
Everyone from fans to national media have questioned the logic behind signing DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to a total $70 million+. "They’re not 1,000 yard backs, they don’t score fantasy points, and they don’t get 300 carries a year." That's what they say. Oh, and a running back usually loses his legs at the age of 30.
Consider this: Splitting carries for both backs will enable them to have longer careers; Williams is sandwiched between Jim Brown and Barry Sanders in yards per carry all time (more than 1,000 career carries) and Stewart is in the top 10 (more than 750 carries).
Further, if the Panthers didn’t sign them, and one of them goes to another team and has two or three monster seasons, you know what fans would say: Hurney should have locked them both into contracts. Only two other seasons have the Panthers ran the ball less in the first five games. The problem is not the signing of the players, it’s not getting them enough touches.
Myth 2: Cam’s moping after games is bad for the team
No matter how far you drill down in Panthers stats, you won’t find one for mopiness in relation to quarterback play. We may not like our 23-year-old second year QB looking overly disappointed when the Panthers lose, but there is no indication--none--that it actually affects his play on the field.
What we are really pissed off about is Cam’s inability to look like other QBs around the league. Newsflash: Cam is not like other QBs and never will be. Cam is Cam, and even though the pouts after losses offend our collective sensibilities, it has yet to manifest itself on the field.
Myth 3: The Panthers don’t know how to "punch in the mouth"
This was the mantra after the Seattle loss last week: The Panthers aren’t tough enough and don’t know how to "punch" the other team "in the mouth." Hogwash. Football is a complex sport, and success can come from many different team make-ups.
Seattle has their toughness, but the Panthers have their formula for winning that doesn’t have to involve "punching in the mouth." Many teams have finessed their way to winning records and Super Bowls. Punching the other team in the face is fine, but not necessary. (Plus, Steve Smith's fighting on the field more than makes up for the rest of the team.)
Myth 4: Hurney’s the problem
Two weeks ago, the scape goat du jour was Marty Hurney, the general manager for the Panthers. His track-record for drafting and signing players was cherry picked for duds, and his smarts and character were shredded by local and national media. It was so bad that it almost brought him to tears in an emotional interview with WFNZ after the Atlanta loss. However, Hurney doesn’t make on-field decisions, or call the half time adjustments.
He doesn’t fumble the ball, or bewilderingly not call time outs. There are three former first team pro bowlers on this team, and a few more who could potentially earn pro bowl honors in the future. The talent is there. Blaming the team’s woes on the GM is just unfair.
Myth 5: Cam is in a sophomore slump
This is the humdinger of all myths about the 2012 Panthers. Is Cam really Vince Young all over again? Are defenses finally figuring him out? Is his attitude after losses affecting his play? No, no and no. If you toss out Cam’s poor effort last week, his stats are remarkably similar to the first four games last season.
And if the Panthers are 3-2 right now, which they very well could be, no one is talking about slumps. Last season was such a huge success personally for Cam, it would have been next to impossible to meet expectations this season. However, that hardly constitutes a slump.
Chuds being in a sophomore slump might be a different story.