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Monday Morning Optimist: A late rally isn’t enough, but it is encouraging

The Panthers lost on a final field goal after the team rallied in the 4th quarter. But there are a lot of places for optimism.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

This loss sucked. I actually bought into the win, the late game rally made me believe for a few minutes. That said, there were some positives to glean here.

The Panthers lost to a really good team. Jacoby Brissett has won games in the NFL as a starter, and he did exactly enough for the Browns to beat the Panthers. I was actually feeling defeated and wondering why I had given myself hope after watching the first half. I thought this game was wrapped up. Until Baker Mayfield hit a 75 yard bomb to Robbie Anderson in the 4th quarter, And then proceeded to put the Panthers ahead after they trailed the entire game.

The Panthers are a flawed team, as is most of the NFL. They have a really good secondary. They have explosive pieces in their linebacking corp. But their run defense is going to be suspect, a carry over from last season. On offense, Christian McCaffrey is very good. Robbie Anderson has clearly rebounded from a miserable 2021 season. Ian Thomas very much justified his contract on Sunday. But this isn’t a complete team. And luckily, they don’t have to be.

A week one loss always sucks, but they took a very talented team to the limit, they didn’t even get in gear until the second quarter. To me, this is a team that can surprise people. I know many expected them to beat the Browns, but they just aren’t there yet. But they are getting there. Frankie Luvu is turning into a franchise cornerstone, Baker Mayfield is showing us that you’re not losing until the clock strikes zero, and Christian McCaffrey can always turn a negative play into a first down.

There are plenty of names I left out. But the bottom line is simple; this team has so many talented players. And I’m excited to watch every game, a welcome change from last season.