First for the Change part, a no-brainer of course: We can't play like we did against the Giants and improve on last year's 6-10 record. But if you think about it, under Coach Rivera, we have not had many total collapses similar to last week's loss...2011 losses to the Titans and Saints come to mind. Point being, a Rivera-coached team is usually prepared to play and competitive in the games they play. So I am confident that last week's game--getting blown out-- was the exception rather than the beginning of a pattern. So, Change is coming.
Now for the Hope. I realize that being annihilated by the Giants makes hope difficult. But take a step back from the Ledge of Panic and consider this:
After looking at the release of the 2012 schedule, only the most optimistic of fans would have picked us to be 3-1 after 4 games. Those same folks were probably the ones picking an 11 or 12 win season, which is nice and loyal and all, hope springing eternal and all that, but not realistic considering how few quality wins we had last year, a still young and learning QB, combined with what still appears to be an extremely brutal schedule. Was the loss to the Bucs a surprise? Yes. Was the loss to the G-men embarrassing? Most definitely. But did realistic fans think we were really going to get two wins out of a week 2-4 schedule that went from Saints to Giants to Georgia Dome? Oh my! I don't think so. Not if we were being honest with ourselves.
So what is the Hope? The hope is, if we can use the Giants' loss to create in us a hunger and fierceness that the undefeated Falcons do not have; if we can return to the mentality of being sick and tired of being the beat-up little brother that fueled our victory over (what will yet prove to be) a good and talented Saints team (don't forget, we actually beat Drew Brees!); if we can come back from the Giants loss to score a big win like we did after a disappointing loss to Tampa; if we can rise to the occasion and use the fast track at the Dome to earn an upset shootout win over our arch-rival enemy Dirty Birds, we will be 2-2, one game back of first place, and right where we should be as we conclude the first quarter of the 2012 campaign.
JStew is back. Cam will play better. Beason will get the D ready to play. Michael Turner has already hit the wall. Big Money Charles Johnson will come home motivated to impress. A W will restore the shaken confidence of a young team.
This is my dream for Hope and Change in the 2012 season. And it begins today. With a Big win over the division-leading Falcons.
Can I get an Amen, Panthers fans??