They say "Numbers Never lie", so I won't delve into them too much in this deposition, I’ll solely base my views of our beloved Carolina Panthers (first game of the season) on my irrefutable, undeniable, indisputable… eyeball test. So in essence… what I seen is what you’ll get, now let’s get going.
Sitting in section 132, with my custom Carolina Panther jersey on and delusions of grandeur of our upcoming season draws to mind minutes before kickoff, and I began to beam like a pubescent school girl on her first date. Our PANTHERS take the field and the crowd explodes. The game begins and the feeling among "brothers in arms" is we can get this one; I know this because many people leaned over and said "We can get this one". With a clear and crisp view of the game we begin with a DeAngelo Williams run for 5 yards, Olsen for 6, Smitty for 6, Williams for 5, Williams again for 6, and the fluidity of Shula’s balanced offense is sending chills down my spine. We haven’t seen this kind of consistency in quite some time, all positive yardage from our big three on offense (I stole the term big 3 from the NBA, but that’s between you and I). Carolina drives the ball down the field with a few more plays to the Seattle 41 yard line which begins my first question on Ron Rivera’s coaching style.
Let me paint this picture from MY mind. We’re playing at home, first game of the season, Cam is our QB, Tolbert our fullback, score is naked across the board. We could go for it on 4th and 2 with either one of those guys, we could bring on the kicker with his strong leg and erupt the crowd if Gano makes it, and worst case scenario we miss on both and send out our much heralded and hungry defense. Options a plenty for this young scrappy team playing on their own home turf. Gamble isn’t too great having 3 plus full quarters of football remaining to play what a coming out statement that would make!!! Without even taking a time out to consider the options Rivera sends out the punt team… my jaw dropped, inside I was literally dying with visions of John Fox inept cautious play style squeezing my hearts last breath. Here we go again… but it’s the beginning of the game so now I’m cautiously optimistic. By games end I had so many questions that many other people had like.
1. Why not go for it on the aforementioned 4th and 2?
2. Why not go for it at the end of the half with over 40 seconds and ALL of your time outs?
By half time we had 1 touchdown drive, 3 punts, and 1 clock run-off, and clinging to a 7-3 lead. Mistakes were made but it wasn’t too costly, let’s correct them at the half. More questions:
3. Why didn’t we pull Josh Thomas before the touchdown… he wasn’t having a good day already?
By this point Seattle had found their whooping boy in our secondary and as good as the defense played stopping Marshawn Lynch we were being gashed in the secondary. A couple more second half punts by the panthers and a drive entering into the 4th quarter yield little optimism. Russell Wilson dashed those hopes even with a good pass rush in his face by scoring the eventual 43 yard gaming winning touchdown to Jermaine Kearse. Who is Jermaine Kearse anyway??? I still don’t know.
That scoring drive took the life out of the fans at the stadium. How well did Wilson play: 25/33; 320 yards; 1td (game winning); 9.7avg.
My problem with those stats are that we slowed the game down to a snail’s pace in the second half, I could only imagine if we played the quick tempo style that was conveyed to us. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best had we taken chances in the first quarter, the end of the half, or possibly changed up the game plan a little in the second half then it may not have come down to D-Will fumbling away our chance.
Who do I blame for the lost? The guy at the top… Double "R" Ron Rivera.
* You have to take the chances when they present themselves when the risk/reward are favorable, coaching a safe or conservative game only will leave you with a loss more so than a win.
* If a player is underperforming on a consistent basis i.e. being beat out of his socks by his man over and over, the coach is required to remove said player, or tell the defensive coordinator to make the necessary defensive adjustments to cover his flaws.
Is the sky falling… not yet but it’s getting close, at least for Ron. See you in section 132 next home game, I’m on the road to Buffalo. Stay blessed.