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Monday Morning Optimist (Sunday edition): At least we only have one more to endure

On the bright side, we’ve played the last home game of the season and this nightmare is almost over.

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

I’m going to talk about Greg Olsen right here because if you saw the game, you already know that the only thing worth talking about was what an amazing competitor that man is year in and year out. If you didn’t see it, let me tell you again, Greg Olsen is BEAST and he deserves credit for putting his heart and soul in each and every game. I’ve never seen this man quit and that’s why he’s the only Tight End in NFL history with 3 1,000 yard back to back seasons. That’s a huge feat. That’s enormous. That’s getting the ref to walk over to your side of the field and shake your hand kind of awesome. Well done.

Now about this team. This isn’t a team, not yet. A lot of parts were lost during the off season and not enough pieces were brought in to fill those holes. The rookie CBs look like they’re going to catch on. Mario Addison is making great strides and Shaq Thompson has my attention. These young guys could be the faces of the future. The talent is there, the opportunity is there, the question is who is going to guide them into their futures with this team?

Something optimistic: This defense has been consistently solid for most of the last three seasons. They’ve let some egregious plays get through and they’ve had their rough days but week after week you can count of the Panthers D to get the job done. When we’re losing, it’s usually a lack of points on the board that’s the culprit. It’s no coincidence that last season, when Cam had protection and no choice but to utilize a full progression of targets, we averaged in the 30s per game and took home 15 wins. Even with a revolving door secondary and too many injuries to count, this team keeps rising to the occasion and making it work somehow.

What I liked...

Very Optimistic - Greg Freaking Olsen

Fox threw up a graphic during the game that brings home the point of how special this guy is. Other non-consecutive three season TEs include Shannon Sharpe, Kellen Winslow and Todd Christensen. The most 1,000 yards in a season by a TE not named Greg Olsen belongs to possibly the greatest TE in NFL history; Tony Gonzales. If Greg can do it again next year he’ll not only be the first TE again to pull off that feat, he’ll find himself in the rarest of company.

Somewhat Optimistic - Kurt Coleman

I am becoming a bigger and bigger Kurt Coleman fan as the year goes on. He was amazing last season leading the team in interceptions but football is a team effort and when young players are being brought up, the targets go to their side. Kurt has still found a way to get the ball in his hands on multiple occasions. He’s the vet in the secondary meetings and he’s bringing his rookies along nicely. Getting in the backfield and nearly causing a repeat of the skid mark incident (you know what I’m talking about) was one of the few high points of this game. Totally worth a few hits on the replay button.

Somewhat Optimistic - Field goals blocked

It’s inconsistent and in the end prevented a game that should have been a blowout from being more than just an embarrassment. Twice on the afternoon, special teams got air at the point of attack and blocked a field goal from the Falcons. This kind of effort is what we should be seeing from every player, every down but that it appears anywhere proves there’s still some life in this team if we can find a way to bring it out. The ST unit should be proud of their performance, including two huge run backs from Fozzy Whittaker to give a sputtering offense a fighting chance.

Now to the part we all know and learn to love like some sort of Stockholm Syndrome for football fans.

What I didn’t like...

Very Pessimistic - Everything?

I’m going with Ron on this one. I don’t like pointing fingers at coaching staff but if you’re team isn’t getting it done you gotta change it up man. You gotta do SOMETHING. Anything. Going for it on 4th down when you’re behind by several scores isn’t just a gutsy move, you literally have no choice there but when the game is counting down and your team can’t manage the win to save their life, for my money you make them play. You make them prove a point. There’s too much quit on the field and that starts somewhere and it should end in the locker room.

Somewhat Pessimistic - Turnovers

When did Supercam become Captain Turnover? Ball control issues are a thing for rookies. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen it but this season has been an absolute plague of huge emotional shifts followed by an ill advised pass downfield and a mad scramble return from the defense. You can basically call it before it happens. This Sunday as soon as Carolina pulled out an incredible stop, forcing a punt, I said out loud ‘Now he throws an interception.’ It’s like a script that’s been played way too often. Like a two yard run on first down, we all know it’s coming and yet there it is week after week. It’s getting too late in Cam’s career to change old habits and this is one that’s cost us more than one opportunity.

Extremely Pessimistic - Anyone lining up outside of center

This O-line is a travesty. You could pull out one play or two but honestly, every single down is an example of how pressure can destroy a play. The little protection gained is less of a pocket and more of trap collapsing under pressure. It’s like a Hot Pocket. You convince yourself it’s going to be OK and then you get burned. If the front office doesn’t address this train wreck I can’t say I see us doing any better next season. At some point you can’t keep plugging in players who kind of sort of maybe have some idea what they’re doing.

What’s Next?

The last game of this abysmal season. Hallelujah!

There’s been better years. Before today, Cam was one game behind Tom Brady for the most wins in December since entering the league. This team usually finishes strong but that just won’t get it done if you can’t put up numbers in October and November. I’m not convinced Ron still has a job in Carolina with a loss next week, which is very possible. The good news is, hey, there’s only one more game and then we can start pretending we don’t hear our friends when they try to bring up this season. I’m sorry Panthers? Sorry, I don’t follow hockey.