The purpose of this post is just to put out there my personal view of the our young Carolina Panthers team. I'm seeing lots of doom and gloom right now about the state of the franchise, about Hurney, about Cam, and lots of people are assuming the fetal position and crying as we speak. Heading into the bye week I think it's important to take a step back, take a few deep breaths, and re-evaluate where we stand. Things will get better.
As I see it, we are still paying the price for a few years of terrible drafting by Hurney that occured toward the end of the Fox era. Notably, Otah and Everette Brown, who, if they had lived up to expectations, would be filling what are now major holes in this team. Hurney and Richardson have, and rightly in my estimation, decided to build a team through the draft. This plan was a a shift away from splashy veteran signings like Reggie White, Ken Lucas, Mike Whale, and the like.
Fast forward to now-- we are a young team at most positions with a few holdovers from the "glory years" of the superbowl and playoffs runs of 2003 and 2005 and 2008. Jordan Gross, Steve Smith, and Jon Beason come to mind.
But, make no bones about it, this is a team in a major transition. We have lots of talent. We have good coaches who have shown flashes of brilliance in the past. We have Ron Rivera who took the Chargers defense from bottom of the barrel to #1 in three years, and Chud who was everyone's favorite coach last year, so much so that we expected him to be in a head coaching position this year.
I know all this, you know all of this, and these things all point to the Panthers being better than 1-4 and struggling to keep it together. So what gives?
Simple-they haven't "clicked".
Cam has had good days. So has the run game. So has the defense. So has the special teams.
The issue is, they haven't been able to do it with any consistency. They haven't been able to play a complete game.
In the Seahawks game, our defense played tremendously. We held Seattle, who has the NFL's current leading rusher in Lynch, to under 100 yards rushing. That is tremendous improvement from the porous run defenses of a few weeks ago! All it would have taken was an average day from our offense to win handily with a defense playing like that. Unfortunately, Cam had an all-time low completion percentage, and the offense struggled to score any points.
In the Falcons game, our offense came out and lit it up, and so did the defense led by Charles Johnson. It took epically terrible play by our secondary (I'm looking at you, Nakamura) for the Falcons to squeak out of that one.
Against the giants we were simply outmatched. A young, inexperienced team not used to the national spotlight on a short week against the defending superbowl champs. What did we expect?
So I guess the message of this post is this: All of the talent and potential that we thought we had at the beginning of the year is still there. And we were right to have high hopes for this team. They will get better, and they will win some games this year. If the Carolina Panthers were a stock, I'd be buying right now.
The flashes of brilliance that we have seen in various phases of the game will come together, and the Panthers will play some complete games this year where the defense is solid, the offense can drive at will, and the special teams is truly special. Are we going to win the supeb-owl? No. But this team will grow. Don't write off the Carolina Panthers season just yet.