Friday was hell of a day. The hangover from the Giants game hurt like the hangover from a six-beer and three Jager shot night of drinking. Words were said the night before and all day Friday on Cat Scratch Reader, talk radio, and other blogs. Hurtful words. CSR editor James Dator, somewhat tongue in cheek, tweeted during the game,
I HATE EVERYTHING— James Dator (@James_Dator) September 21, 2012
The general sentiment devolved into, "We don't deserve to be good. We’re too young and inexperienced--both players and coaches--and the owner is old and out of touch." And then there’s Panthers GM Marty Hurney.
The poor guy was hit with a sledgehammer of a critique by Bill Barnwell on Grantland.com Friday, claiming in part that Hurney was managing the team for his own self preservation and not the good of the team. Look at the overpriced players and poor draft day decisions. Look at last night’s drubbing by the Giants. The Grantland piece stoked the ire, pity and panic in Panther fans. It got so bad, Dator called for a moratorium on mentions of the article:
"We have a Fanshot on it. It was linked 13 times today in 20 individual comments, across three different articles,’ Dator said on the front page of Cat Scratch Reader Friday. "We are aware of the Grantland article. Thank you for bringing it to our attention, but at this point we know."
If the 1,000-word emails from your friends about the Giants game wasn’t bad enough, a finely-timed blog post at Grantland sent Panther fans into a tailspin. Are we really not ready for prime time? And will it ever get better under Hurney? The thud you heard was expectations coming back to earth.
Firmly grounded now, and "embarrassed," as Cam Newton noted, the Panthers can now move forward. The hype and expectations are no longer weighing this team down. Moving on, and getting better should be the focus now. That's why I give you:
Five Reasons Why You Shouldn't let Thursday’s Game--and the Subsequent Beat-down by Media and Fans--Bum You Out
1) The problem is not Hurney
Plenty of GMs went years before they won a Super Bowl. Hurney has presided over some very good, Super Bowl-worthy Panthers teams in the past. There’s a lot of young talent on this team--including Cam Newton, and it’s hardly the time to panic about front office moves. Hold your proclamations of "Panthers in Chaos" until there is actually, you know, chaos.
2) The Panthers caught the Giants at the wrong time
The Giants have won two recent Super Bowls. They have an elite and experienced QB and coach, and their front four on defense is best in class. They are made for short weeks and winning on the road. It’s how they won their Super Bowls. The spotlight doesn’t phase NY and a shellacking by them is hardly reason to write the Panthers off.
3) It’s a work in progress
How many young QBs have taken teams to the Super Bowl? It’s rare. They need at least a few years to develop, especially if the team around them is also young. Cam Newton has time to get better, and he will. But don’t expect it all to come together over night. After all, it took Eli Manning years of mediocrity before he got where he is today.
4) We know how to get better
The Panthers need help on the defensive line. It’s no secret. We knew it going into the season, but chose to pin our hopes on Hardy, the Edwards, and Johnson. As the Giants showed, it’s not difficult to pass the ball when the QB goes untouched most of the game. The defensive line can hold it’s own against lesser teams, but not the elite teams. A draft focused on the D-Line will do wonders for the Panthers.
5) Teams sometimes get their butts handed to them and still survive
Even Vegas thought the Panthers would beat the Giants Thursday night. The fact that Vegas got it THAT wrong is telling: There’s something to the Panthers. The Cam-led offense is dynamic enough to win games and the young defense will get better. They can still be good, and yes, they can still win a Super Bowl with Marty Hurney as GM. Just not this year.
They need to keep moving forward. A knock out blow by the defending Super Bowl champs hurts, but it’s early enough in the season to get back up and fight. A lot of other teams are also going to be 1-2 after Sunday, so it could be a hell of a lot worse.