Fans woke up Friday morning after the abysmal Tampa Bay Buccaneers game and wanted to throw a challenge flag at the results, the coaching, at anything they could see. Sadly, they would have had as much success with their challenges as Ron did with his in the actual game.
This piece is always about the best writing and the biggest news from the prior week, but somehow coming off that depressing of a loss it feels wrong to linger on it. With that in mind, I’ll just bump the Optimist in an effort to cheer y’all up and then leave with you a few other pieces talking about the bright spots the Panthers have right now that aren’t related to Cam Newton, Ron Rivera, Daryl Williams, or short yardage play calling.
I know it was only published yesterday, but if you are ready to pick up a shovel and pile dirt onto Newton’s still warm and waking body then you probably need to read this. There isn’t a wide margin for error left in this team’s potential, but there is still some hope.
So, sure, he was inconsistent. That doesn’t mean washed, though he might be. It could just as easily be rust and discomfort. His foot may be healing more than the team will let on. He missed a lot of time this offseason, including the last week of the preseason in practice, and is basically starting from scratch with his mechanics. Inconsistent is a human place for him to be right now and the only reason that is so disheartening to Panthers fans who aren’t operating disingenuously is because we are used to him being Super Man.
- Walker Clement
Thursday night was an abberation for McCaffrey. Not every team is going to have the confidence to blitz Newton on nigh every down. Keep in mind that he is still a hell of a back and that Thursday’s ultimate game script could be his saving grace if the season is already lost: they can’t break him if they don’t target him or hand off to him.
The biggest bright spot, though, was the play of running back Christian McCaffrey. The third year pro carried the ball 19 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns, a hefty average of 6.8 yards per carry. He also led the team in every receiving category, hauling in 10 of 11 targets for 81 yards.
- Jonathan DeLong
James Bradberry is the best cornerback the Panthers have had since Josh Norman, possibly even since Chris Gamble. They have one year left on his rookie deal after 2019.
Bradberry was thrown into the fire day one of his career, defending against number one receivers since his very first snap. We always saw flashes of what he could be, breaking on passes and holding tight coverage, but in years passed he wasn’t as much an impact player as much a model of consistency. He was the kind of corner you want in a “bend but don’t break” defense, but he didn’t consistently push the envelope and create as many negative plays as you want from a top tier corner. Well, on Sunday I saw a different player.
- Brian Beversluis
I laughed at the over-reactionary nature of Panthers fans when these results were published. The close Week 1 loss had me more confident than ever. As I said above, I still have hope, but I’m not laughing now.
I think the Panthers are okay and just had some rotten luck in Week 1, and unless something dreadful happens tonight against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football then I don’t think there’s any reason to worry about the state of the team.
- Bradley Smith