Hello Panthers Nation! First, let me say that I have been enjoying CSR for nearly a year now, and not only am I fan of the Panthers (duh), but I am also a huge fan of all the writers who grace this site with their literary presence. With that being said, let me introduce myself. My name is Joshua Frie, and I have been a fan of the Carolina Panthers since I was around 8 years old. At which point I received 2 tickets to a game from my next door neighbor. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend due to my inebriate father being too hung over to take me, but that's neither here nor there. I like soda, long naps on the couch, and observing "Luuuuuuke" decimate opposing offenses. Oh, and this is the first time I have ever posted a blog, so cut me some slack.
For my first "piece", I would like to take a look at the MOST vital nutrient in any teamsport's diet.... The Fans. It's been somewhat of a roller coaster ride for we Panthers fans. The draft held the sort of excitement you feel when you go to the grocery store, and the Doritos are on sale for buy one get one free, and the only flavor that is left just happens to be your favorite. I am of course referring to the first 2 picks of this years draft when we selected mammoth defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawaan Short. The future looked substantially brighter with 2 young space eaters to help solidify a defense that was already trending up, and maybe even create a Defensive POTY campaign for our budding linebacker from Boston College. Training camp was brimming with hope, and the third preseason game against the defending Super Bowl champs gave us a legitimate reason to think "Hey, this might be the year", but we were fooled, or were we?
Okay, let me just say that for me personally week 1 was disappointing, but for some reason I was not as worried as I have been about a loss in years past. I had hoped that we were going to go into the game, and just rip the Seagulls to shreds, and be what Chris Berman & Co. were talking about for Monday Night Countdown. Sadly, we could not score points, and we coughed the ball up at the end of the game. Even as heartbreaking of a loss as it was, we played well on defense, and we probably would have pulled out a W had we not turned the ball over. Week 2, completely different story. I don't care about the interception, or the fact that Super Mario had 4.5 sacks on Cam. HOW IN THE HELL DO YOU LOSE THE GAME WITH 2 TIMEOUTS LEFT??? I understand you don't want to stop the clock for the offense, but the clock had already been stopped when E.J Manuel scrambled out of bounds to the CAR 2 yard line. Why not call timeout? Give your defense a chance to regain their vigor, and coach them up on what to expect. Pick plays are very popular in goal to go situations, and had they taken a time out to give the players a heads up on what sort of play they may be running, our Cats could very well be heading into week 5 with a 2-1 record. As much as I pleaded with my 47 inch Samsung LCD TV for Coach Rivera to make a T with his hands, it was all for naught. The play was called, "The Duke" was snapped, and what seemed like a victory was pushed away by bad coaching, and even worse execution. It was at this point in my fanhood that I, Joshua Frie, hopped on the Fire Rivera bandwagon. All hope was gone, and I knew this was going to be another let down of a season. How did it come to this? There was no way we could rebound from this sucker punch of a loss. Then, the New York football Giants came to town.
Can I just say, Hooooly Crap! Now that is how you play football. Monsterz Inc. had a field day, 2 virgin defensive backs get a couple of turnovers, and SuperCam FINALLY showed up. Our running game put up nearly 200 yards, and Cam was throwing the ball with a lot more touch than in the previous games. The week leading up to the Giants game, Cam said he has been trying to throw the football into trash cans. Well, I don't know about you, but it looks to me like this exercise has paid off for the third year quarterback. Both touchdown passes to Brandon Lafell were beautifully placed throws that had a lot of air under them. Something we had rarely seen from #1. The Panthers completely obliterated the Giants in every aspect of the game. Decimation never looked so divine. Things are looking up, and the season has been saved. The idea of a playoff birth is back in our minds, and we can chalk the first two losses up to bad luck, and "just getting the wheels turning", but my fellow fans I implore you, we must refrain from such thoughts of candy canes and unicorns.
Don't get me wrong, I highly enjoyed watching the G-Men get snuffed out in front of our home crowd. I loved seeing our offensive line come together, and #77 actually block for a change. All of these things released so many endorphins in my body I felt like I was on the happy pill at a Cheerwine convention. That being said, I knew the unequivocal truth, that as wondrous of a game we had last Sunday, it was only 1 game. Believe me when I say I hope for many more like it, and I do believe that it could very well be the catalyst for a playoff run, but I am not so naïve to think that we are some power house now, and there is nothing to worry about. If we can come out of the next 4 games with a 3-1 record or better, then I'll be encouraged. We have to show that we can consistently play at a high level, and do the things that we are obviously capable of doing, but until that happens I remain skeptical.
So to end this first post of mine I seek the thoughts of my fellow readers to tell me what they believe the Panthers are going to in the next few games. Will we continue to show that week 3 was no fluke? Or, will we fall back into the unsanitary toilet bowl of mediocrity?