Panther Paw Prints: Week 8 Edition

Here is a collection of Panther related links from around the internet with most addressing the Panthers victory over the Bucs.

While most pundits are touting the complex offenses as the new wave of the NFL the Panthers are winning 'Old School' fashion:

Carolina Panthers: Hottest Team in the NFL
The most amazing thing about the Panthers’ recent run is that they are doing it without being flashy. While other teams are utilizing complex offensive schemes and hurry-up offenses to maximize their talent, the Panthers are grinding it old school; it sure is working. The Panthers are winning as a team now instead of individuals grabbing attention through stats or big plays, and it is translating into wins. Even Cam Newton isn’t hogging the spotlight, not that he needs to, because as long as he keeps winning he will continue to be the man in Carolina. Soon the real test will come, though, once the Panthers face some stiff competition. Then we’ll see just how hot their fire burns.

It's the type of offense they set out to become and based on the past three games they have done it. I see no reason to change anything at this point.

Are we ready to talk playoffs?

For Carolina Panthers, the ‘P’ word is now a real possibility | CharlotteObserver.com
The Panthers get some time off this weekend before returning to work. They know they still have some problems, but the problems seem a lot more manageable at 4-3 than they did at 1-3. "Instead of a thousand things to fix," Hardy said, "it’s only like 10 or 11 things to fix."

I'm not there yet myself. These next three games against the Falcons, 49ers and Patriots will tell us a lot.

So have you wondered if Bucs HC Greg Shiano is affected by all the signs calling for his ouster?

TAMPA, Fla.: Newton throws for 2 TDs, Panthers beat Bucs 31-13 | NFL Football | The State
"We got licked," Schiano said, adding that calls for his dismissal haven't become a distraction for him or his players. "It doesn't affect me. 'People are certainly entitled to their opinion. ... You sit there and cry about it, but that's not going to help."

Of course that is what he is going to say but you know it has to bother him at least a little.

So some people still think the Panthers should go after WR Hakeem Nicks though they have dropped the Jonathan Stewart part out of it:

Schefter's Blitz - Five trades that make sense - ESPN
Giants WR Hakeem Nicks to the Panthers for a conditional fourth-round pick that goes to a third if Carolina is able to sign him to a long-term deal: Nicks is scheduled to become a free agent after this season, and the Giants are going nowhere fast. With money invested in wide receiver Victor Cruz, New York might as well recoup what it can now for Nicks. Carolina has been looking for a receiver to pair with Steve Smith for years. Nicks could be the one.

Given the money Nicks will command I'm not so sure, especially if it involves a 3rd round pick. We could get a cheaper, longer term option in the draft at that position I would think.

You may recall Melvin White did get the start over Josh Thmas, who was inactive for the Bucs game:

Rivera considering changing starting cornerback | WCNC.com Charlotte
Rivera said Wednesday White has "done a really nice job, and J.T. (Thomas) is struggling with it right now."

White got the job done and prevented the big play. Why not keep him in there?

I think it's safe to say Rivera's seat is no longer very hot at the moment:

Panthers 31, Buccaneers 13
"We have a winning record. It's great for these guys," head coach Ron Rivera said. "I'm very excited for these players. "At no point did I ever doubt this group. I believed it was just a matter of time."

Though I'm still proceeding with caution it is nice to see our guys finally getting rewarded for their hard work.

Cam Newton continues to emphasize 'team':

Newton in the zone
"I feel as if my production is off a lot of people's production as well," Newton said. "If you want to solely say I'm playing great, it also means a lot of other guys are playing great. This is not a one-man show. I understand that, and I will not have that type of attitude." So what's made this offense and its quarterback look so good? "It's a culmination of a lot of things," Newton said. "When you've got an offensive line protecting the way they're protecting, you've got a running back that's running and you've got receivers that are making plays after the catch, it's really not hard. It's just up to me to make the right decision."

It's hard to argue with the stats that when Newton doesn't have huge stat days the Panthers tend to win. The key has been and remains to be to protect the football and make good decisions.

Can you believe the Panthers have one of the highest 3rd down conversion percentages in the league (45.9), good for 3rd in the league prior to the Bucs game:

Panthers own third down
"That's how you draw it up," Olsen said. "We're pretty good on third down. The key to that is giving ourselves very manageable ones. We're very good on first and second down – we don't take a lot of sacks – and Cam does a good job of extending plays. "We're just very efficient, very good in short yardage and in goal-line situations. We're very confident."

This is one area where you have to give props to Newton and Shula. Newton for his ability to extend plays and even convert them with his feet. Shula for the play calling and giving the rock to Tolbert in short yardage situations.

Rivera continues to say the right things and admit he was 'crazy' for kicking those FG's earlier in the season instead of showing confidence in his offense:

Rivera: Panthers realizing potential
Rivera's propensity to go for it on fourth down – Carolina converted another fourth-and-1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday and is four-of-six on the season – exemplifies the confidence this team boasts. "We have some really good weapons, and by not going for it on fourth down I took the ball out of their hands. That's crazy," Rivera said. "I've had a couple players come up and say, 'Hey, thanks for showing confidence in us.' As a coach, that's important, because now you feel like, you know what, I am doing the right things, the players are behind me. They believe in themselves, and that's exciting."

Rivera still sounds more like a teacher than a coach in these interviews but whatever works as long as his team stands behind him.

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