In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, "Yeah, Moe, that team sure did suck...they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked."
Since 2010 the Panthers' 16 wins are the second lowest in the NFL, giving Carolina exactly one more win than the lowly Jags.
Fewest Wins Since 2010
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - 15
2. Carolina Panthers - 16
3. Cleveland Browns - 17
4-T. Buffalo Bills - 18
4-T. St. Louis Rams - 18
When compiling a list of terrible franchises, teams like Jacksonville, Cleveland, and Buffalo immediately come to mind for most NFL observers. Fans of these teams came to grips years ago that their franchises, simply put, sucked.
But Carolina? They’re different. They don't seem to belong on this list of suckitude.
True, in the end the Panthers are only as good (er, as bad) as their win-loss total, but the frustrating thing is they should be better than this!
Panther fans could justifiably be the most frustrated, tortured group of souls wailing away in NFL purgatory. Carolina has had the pieces to be a perennial playoff contender, and yet they are one loss away from being the NFL’s suckiest team in recent years. Here’s why:
The 2010 Debacle
The Carolina death spiral began with the 2-14 disaster season in 2010.
What made those two measly wins even more galling is the season actually started with a great deal of hope.
Carolina had gone 8-8 in 2009 despite Jake Delhomme’s epic 11-game meltdown (55% completion, 59.4 passer rating). Matt Moore closed out the season riding a 4-1 hot streak, giving the Panthers momentum going into 2010 and their fans a reason for hope.
If Carolina could somehow generate at least average quarterback play in 2010 (read: not Jake Delhomme), another eight win season was not out of the question.
Remember, heading into 2010, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were both coming off 1,100-plus yard seasons, giving Carolina historic productivity in the backfield. Williams, Jordan Gross, Steve Smith, and Jon Beason were all Pro Bowlers as recently as 2008.
The noteworthy losses from the 8-8 2009 team were a disgruntled Julius Peppers (42 tackles, 10.5 sacks) and an aging Muhsin Muhammad (53-581-1). But Peppers’ departure opened the door for Charles Johnson’s breakout 2010 season (62 tackles, 12.0 sacks) and rookie Brandon LaFell (38-468-1) proved to be a capable receiver in Muhammad’s old role, despite having an array of terrible quarterbacks winging ducks to him all year.
John Fox had coached the team to the Super Bowl in 2003 and NFC Championship game in 2005. Fox had led the Panthers to a 64-48 (.571) regular season record between 2003 and 2009. He didn’t suddenly forget how to coach heading into the 2010 campaign. Yes, Fox was getting stale in Carolina, but he was still an above-average, competent NFL head coach.
While the Panthers suffered some injuries in 2009, every NFL team battles injuries every year. Next man up.
Thomas Davis went down after seven games, but James Anderson filled in with 130 tackles. DeAngelo Williams only played in six games, but the versatile Mike Goodson stepped up with 452 yards on 103 carries (a team-high 4.4 YPC) and 40 receptions (second highest on the team) for 310 yards. Jeff Otah missed the entire season on the offensive line, but health issues were the norm for Otah in Carolina.
On paper, the 2010 Panthers were only slightly worse than the team that went 8-8 the year before.
But 2-14? They weren't that different from the 2009 squad.
And, no, I'm not crazy. ESPN's experts were pretty bullish on the Panthers going into 2010. Matt Williamson from Scouts Inc. said, "...if everything breaks right, I also could see 10 wins." Pat Yasinskas cautioned, "Don't dismiss Carolina." John Clayton and Adam Schefter complimented the team's quicker defense and solid core of players. They praised coach John Fox.
Despite the early promise, the 2010 team piled up loss after loss after sucky, sucky loss.
The trend has continued.
2011-2013 - Sleeper? More Like Nightmare
The 2011 Panthers went 6-10 in Year 1 with Cam Newton and Ron Rivera. Not totally sucky, but still a losing record.
Since then the Panthers have been the sleeper team that consistently slept through its alarm clock.
Going into 2012, ESPN's experts viewed Carolina as a sleeper team. Adam Schefter spoke of a potential playoff berth. John Clayton suggested the Panthers would finish above .500. Jeffrey Chadiha predicted the Panthers would, "keep the momentum alive" after their strong 4-2 finish to the 2011 season.
Winning records? Playoffs!!?? Playoffs!!??
How about 7-9 in 2012, Year 2 of Rivera and Newton.
And now 2013 has started off with another 1-3 suckfest.
In three years with Ron Rivera and Cam Newton the Panthers are 14-22.
While this defies all mathematical logic, Carolina has somehow blown about 76 fourth quarter leads since Rivera was hired (all figures approximate).
Add it all up and the Panthers are 16-36 (.308) since 2010. So eat it, Jacksonville! We sneer at your pathetic 15 victories!
The Carolina Panthers have been reduced to taunting the Jacksonville Jaguars, only because we can. That's about all Panthers fans have right now.
And that just simply, well, sucks.