Panther Paw Prints: GBU Edition

Yes we have The Good, the Bad and the Ugly version of Panther Paw Prints tonight.

The Good

The Panthers have once again struck gold in the 1st round of the draft as DT Star Lotulelei shows he will be a star in more than name:

NFL Rookie Watch: Panthers' Star Lotulelei Dominant on Defense
The Good Star Lotulelei- DT, Carolina Panthers (1st round, 14th pick) Lotulelei has been a monster against the run. In 83 snaps, he’s managed four stops and has six total tackles. He was instrumental in preventing two of football’s best running backs–Marshawn Lynch and C.J. Spiller–from running up the middle, forcing runs to the outside (Lynch finished with 43 yards, Spiller gained 103). In addition to controlling runs up the middle, Lotulelei clogged the middle lanes which prevented quarterbacks E.J. Manuel and Russell Wilson from breaching the center of the pocket.

The Panthers are actually the least penalized team in the NFL through two games:

Tillman tackle proves costly | CSN Chicago
The Bears may be tied for worst in the NFL at stopping third-down conversions but they are being nice about it. In the NFC only the Carolina Panthers (seven) have been penalized fewer than the Bears’ eight times. The correlation between "W’s" and walkoffs is suspect, however. The Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers (seven) and Minnesota Vikings (eight) are all 0-2. The Indianapolis Colts (six) are 1-1 and New England is 2-0.

Okay so it isn't penalties killing the Panthers this season. What could it be? Hmmm...

The Bad

Here I'm referring to the state of the secondary as we will be starting a UDFA rookie we just signed from the practice squad:

Inside the Panthers: Dwan Edwards' status in doubt, Rivera names starting safeties
Rivera also named undrafted rookie Robert Lester the starting strong safety Sunday. Lester had been on the practice squad until Tuesday, when he was brought to the 53-man roster following Charles Godfrey (Achilles) going to the injured reserve. He will start opposite Mike Mitchell at free safety. Rivera did not say who would start at cornerbacks, with Josh Thomas (concussion) still needing clearance from the doctor and veteran Drayton Florence having practiced just once since re-signing with the team Thursday.

The bad also refers to the season of Sunday's loser between the Giants and Panthers:

Victor Cruz: N.Y. Giants must beat Carolina Panthers - NFL.com
"I think we have to win (Sunday)," Cruz said Tuesday, per the New York Daily News. "Every game's a must-win for us, regardless of who we're playing, home or away, every game's a must-win for us, and we have to do that." We aren't overreacting to the Giants' 0-2 start. This team has stumbled into the playoffs multiple times in the past, and no one is running away with the NFC East. But a loss to the similarly 0-2 Panthers would put the Giants in a hole that few NFL teams have escaped. And those dreams of a home Super Bowl game would be all but dashed.

Of course the Panthers failure to close out the Bills on their last drive was very bad. Mike Shula tries to explain it away though:

Shula: "Hard work is going to pay off"
"We'd shown a couple things: a passing formation, and that's a formation that we'd actually run Cam a lot on," Shula said. "It was a misdirection off of that. It was a play that was successful for us earlier in the game, as well as last week. I thought it was going to be our best chance."

Olsen and left guard Amini Silatolu pulled from the left side of the formation to lead the way for Tolbert, who saw a hole and charged through it. But Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso and defensive end Jerry Hughes cut Olsen and Silatolu respectively, collapsing bodies into the hole. "You have to give them credit," Shula said.

"We had some guys blocking down and some pullers and you don't see this a whole lot, but they actually cut our guys and it kind of wadded things up. "Just came up one yard short."

So why not run it again on 4th down Mike if there is only one yard left? Oh never mind...

The Ugly

To lead of ugly we turn away from Panther nation and take a national perspective:

Barnes Takes Shot at Mario Williams, Panthers
"It’s the Panthers we’re talking about," Barnes said with a laugh to Newsday’s Kimberley Martin. "Obviously, he’s a first-round pick, they pay him so much money, so he’s got to go out there and do something. For our O-linemen, it’s the same. They go against us every day. They won’t be scared or intimidated by it."

So what has Antwan Barnes done to laugh at the Panthers? What have the Jets done for that matter? The team with the infamous 'butt fumble' is laughing at us? How about this...mark December 15th on your calendar. That's when these Panthers will march into NY and slap that grin off your face.

From the Random Ugly file we have this...

Tweets tip off former NFL player about teens partying in his home - CNN.com
He compiled a list of the tweets and photos from the party to identify the teens, and he created a website, www.helpmesave300.com. "We have 170 tweets with people and their pictures, so we know who was there just by doing security searches with the sheriffs," Holloway said. As a result of his work with law enforcement, he says that 200 partygoers have been identified and the last 100 will be in the next few days. "We knew some of the kids there because they've been up to the house before," Holloway said recalling gatherings he's hosted at his home before. "They just took it to another level."

That takes some serious stones to throw a party in someone else home. Or was is stupidity since they also trashed the place and tweeter pictures while they were already doing it.

Finally, I give you more from Mike Shula and his preparation for Sunday's game (emphasis mine):

Shula was asked if consecutive heartbreaking losses could have a demoralizing effect on the offense, and he strongly stated that wouldn't be the case. "Maybe in years past, but for whatever reason, this year with this group I don't. I really don't," Shula said. "I know it doesn't make sense right now, because we are 0-2, but guys are really taking ownership, some veteran guys. They've worked hard. You want to see the results. You just keep preaching hard work is going to pay off. "This is a tough game as we know, and all that gets tested when you don't win. But we can't prepare any different right now for the Giants than we would if we were 2-0."

Let me get this straight, the player's need to take ownership of their 0-2 start but that doesn't change how they are preparing for the Giant's game? Maybe I'm picking nits here but it sounds more like they don't really have a clue how to turn this thing around. It just might get ugly.

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