Well, it happened again. Some prescribe to the notion of 'football gods' or some other mystical power that lords over the NFL ensuring come-uppance for those with hubris, and creating all the drama we see week in, week out. I don't believe in any omnipotent power, but I believe in the Carolina Panthers– and shame on me for doing so.
"I did it for the fans. We haven't given them a whole lot in recent years. They deserve a better team, and I'm very confident in what this team can do.
- Ryan Kalil, 7/28/12
Unless the Carolina Panthers find a way to get back to basics, and can their bravado, Kalil's overture will get filed away with other hollow gestures that mean little to fans giving hours of their lives, and so much energy to this organization every week. I appreciate Cam Newton slinking to the podium following last night's loss and telling the media that "If I was a Panthers fan I would be holding my head down in embarrassment". Don't worry Cam, we are, but I hope heads were low in the locker room, because that was atrocious.
More after the jump
Kalil's ad didn't improve the defense, it didn't give the Panthers reliable depth, and it didn't draw up a gameplan so woefully simple that it looked to be the product of a JV squad. It's never about a loss, heck, a loss can be rectified with one good win, but it's about how Carolina lost last night.
The defensive plan last night seemed to stem from the idea that nothing could hurt the Panthers. Carolina looked to bracket Victor Cruz to prevent the deep ball, but there was no accounting for Ramses Barden or Andre Brown who were given free reign to do what they wanted. I'll get into the players more on Monday, but if that truly was how the Panthers planned to execute on Thursday it was laughable, and something the Giants would have seen a mile away. It doesn't take a genius to think you'll target the All-Pro receiver over backups, and so the Giants drew up a vanilla offense that used those replacement players, and made the Panthers look foolish.
Despite how ugly last night was, let's please shelf the ludicrous "John Fox was better" or "Is it too soon to be talking about a new head coach?" talk. The Panthers under John Fox would win and lose games before they even began, as the game plan would either work early, and the Panthers would win, or it would falter, they wouldn't adjust and they lost.
If there's a saving grace about this coaching staff it's that the team does adjust and improve at halftime. They come out looking better following the break, but it wasn't enough to dig them out of a hole. Why the Panthers come out flat is beyond my comprehension, as they consistently look unprepared in the first half. Now we sit at 1-2, with the Falcons coming up as Carolina face the best team they've faced so far. A win will make us all forget about this Thursday night loss (remember Tennessee last year?), but if the Panthers continue to look flat, out-matched, and under-prepared it's going to be a long season.
Prior to the season I pegged the Panthers to finish 9-7, and I hold to that. This game against the Giants was one I thought would be a win for the Panthers, but nonetheless they can turn the season around and at least salvage a winning record. However, the players have to step up. It's not an issue of fringe players, or marginal starters being bad, it's an issue of guys like Cam Newton, Charles Johnson, and Jon Beason all needing to step up and play better. With ten days to prep hopefully that happens, but I don't blame fans for waking up Friday without much hope for 2012.