This season can teach Panthers observers that the little wins matter. The no-quit mindset that Wilks and others tried to emulate throughout the season is possibly paying big dividends earlier than most of us could have understood. It is in times like this year has been that we found out who our friends are. Which players are giving everything they can even when it seems like they have no reason to attempt excellence? Who has something to do and teach by example? Who is going to give the team hard times to consider when things seem to go well?
But speaking of transitioning from misery to greatness, the team holds more shame than this one season. The Carolina Panthers are in a twenty three year losing streak against the Pittsburgh Steelers and it's been twenty six years since the team's only win against the Steelers. Not only that, but the losses have been embarrassing and each one seems to have progressively been worse than the last. Somehow, that becomes more and more possible. By 2030, the Steelers might just set an NFL record for biggest point differential win over the Panthers unless this trend ceases. The embarrassment of the losing streak is even worse when considering the only close game between the two teams was the Panthers' only win over them in team history.
The last time the Panthers lost to the Steelers, the team went on to finish one game short of a winning record, replace Ron Rivera with Matt Rhule, replace Cam Newton with Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield, as well as PJ Walker, and now back to Sam Darnold.
This is a shame. But it is a shame with newfound opportunities at glory. Ever since Jerry Richardson bought the team, the Panthers wanted to embrace the idea of being like the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nobody is better at being anyone than themselves. If the Panthers want to be like the Steelers, the Panthers will lose 9 out of 10 games and maybe up to 99 out of a hundred games to the Steelers. If the Steelers want to be like the Panthers, then they fell harder in hard times than I thought. Even if the Eagles wanted to emulate Pittsburgh, they would get crushed playing the Steelers every time. Only Philadelphia can be the Eagles. Only the Steelers can be the Steelers. Only the Carolina Panthers can be the Carolina Panthers.
Since the Carolina Panthers want to emulate their own identity, the definition of Keep Pounding is on display in this weekend. When people wanted to "Rhule" out Sam Darnold, he started to show he can be good in this league, avoiding mistakes that ruined his career in both Carolina and New York. A third strong week will go a long way in establishing an argument that not only should Wilks be the future. But the Panthers may need to take a better look at Sam Darnold as well.
Now there is no question about the talent of the young Carolina Panthers. The concerns are related to establishing a consistency of success needed for the team to realize the greatness they can strive to achieve. When the Panthers fans realize how close the team is to that excellence, we will never understand how it happened or what happened. We will never appreciate that it did take a long time to become good. But maybe just maybe it won't take long at all.
In order for the Panthers to do well, it must become Wilks' team. More importantly, the Panthers must be Carolina's team, established by a strong history of resilience. Wilks understands the Carolina culture enough to use the team's heritage to his advantage. That is why the fans feel so quick of a connection with him.
Do not misled by the upset win over the Seahawks or the disappointment of the Steelers results so far. The Panthers have a nasty opponent this week. It should be more than just a close game. It will be a difficult win for the panthers to grab. The Steelers are still staring 5-8 in the face when they watch the Carolina Panthers. The weaknesses in Carolina are not hidden even in the success of the team.
The third win in three weeks will go a long way for so many participants in the organization and could speed the resiliency of the Panthers for long term winning. This is why you Keep Pounding. This is why you don't worry about draft picks until after the season is over. This is why quitting cannot be considered.