Carolina Panthers Are Close

NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 03: Quarterback Jimmy Clausen of the Carolina Panthers during play against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on October 3, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

There were signs of life from the Carolina Panthers during the team’s fourth loss of the season. Looking at the win – loss record alone, a person would be led to believe that this is a team that has shown no signs of improvement, and that it’s probably getting shut out in all phases of the game.

Not true.

In Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints, the biggest roadblock preventing a possible win wasn’t after wideout Steve Smith left the game with what would later be termed a high ankle sprain, but was when John Fox figured it was time to take over the offensive playcalling late in the game and get back to run, run, pass, punt — predictable Fox football. To his credit, Foxy did opt to go for it on fourth down in succession. The first conversion was a success, while the final attempt was a failure, partly at the hands of wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett. Sure, the excuse being that even if he had made the reception, the game would have ended anyway. But still. Catch the ball, right? Let’s say that Jarrett was only covered by one defender. He doesn’t make the reception, game over on loss of downs. It’s Jarrett’s fault. He had yet another opportunity to prove himself and failed yet again.

As fans, we sit and wait for the noticeable changes; changes that are blatantly obvious, like a rookie receiver making a touchdown for the first time in four games, or a rookie quarterback winning his first game. Or maybe we remember how a running back trucked a defender in an unlikely scoring situation. As fans we’re always looking for the big plays. As a team matures, it becomes more reasonable to expect the big plays.

In a very surprising turn-about, the Panthers converted multiple third down attempts, and scored more than one touchdown in a game! At this point, it’s the little battles being won that will eventually win the war. Also, Jimmy Clausen did not throw a single interception, nor did he fumble the ball. Also, penalties were held to a minimum this week, unlike weeks past.

All-in-all, it was a solid effort made by the offense and defense. While the offense still needs a little work in a couple areas, it’s coming along rather smoothly. Special teams also has improved significantly, although the fumble by Captain Munnerlyn on a punt return to set the Saints up deep in Panthers’ territory did Carolina’s efforts no good. Mike Goodson on the other hand, has really shown a lot for the return game, and seems to get better with every passing week.

Up next for Carolina is a visit from the Chicago Bears, a team licking it’s wounds after a Sunday night loss to the New York Giants.

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Tags: Carolina Panthers Chicago Bears Dwayne Jarrett Jimmy Clausen John Fox New Orleans Saints NFL Recap Steve Smith

  • John

    It wouldn’t have mattered had he made the catch as it was still not enough and it was fourth down. And to be honest it looked a lot like pass interference to me. Usually when a DB goes over your back it’s a call. Wasn’t one here. That play didn’t lose the game. The play calling up to that point in that possession and the miserable job done working the clock lost the game. Those would be coaching issues in my book. And they weren’t the only ones.

    With that said I did see some sustained flashes of an offense that can win. Gettis looks like the best WR we’ve drafted in a while. Of course now we have a real issue. Smitty is tough and I know he’ll get back as fast as he can but I have seen high ankle sprains linger. Even more glad we didn’t waste that princely sum of 800k to have a proven veteran WR on the team. Penny wise and pound foolish is what my grandfather would call the Panthers on that one. Guess we’ll see. I just hope they don’t do something stupid in desperation now.

    I continue to be happily surprised with how well our defense has played considering the crappy positions the offense keeps leaving them in. And special teams seems to really be shaping up.

    This is a very young team that came within 10 yards of beating the defending champs. I went in expecting a blowout. The guys showed some pride and some skills in hanging with them to the end so I didn’t get one. I thought they done good all in all.

    Chicago isn’t really that good I don’t think. I think they are way more beatable than NO and if we can find a way to get something going sans Smitty I think we got a shot.

    • Eric Quackenbush

      All I have to say for Jarrett, is while it most likely wouldn’t have mattered in terms of winning or losing the game, it does matter in terms of the guy saying he doesn’t get any chances. If I could, I’d say to Jarrett, “well there was a chance on 4th and critical. You dropped the baby. How many more chances would you like?” I can’t tell what’s going on from behind him. I do know there’s a defender, but the picture pixelates during the pass. There were some missed calls, but that happens in every game. Unfortunately, it’s the human element involved.

      Offensive playcalling was ridiculous when Fox was calling plays.

      • John

        Well I think Gettis has shown more than Jarrett so far and is a far better prospect than Jarrett. But I would like to know how many targets did Jarrett get that game? Was it one? Only that one? Seemed that way to me. And if it was one doesn’t that jibe with what we were all saying in the beginning of the season? Dude hasn’t been given a legit shot. WRs learn on the field not on the sideline. Now again I have no problem with them giving him his wish but when they do don’t be surprised to see him do better somewhere else. I won’t be.

        • Eric Quackenbush

          Looking back at the highlights from that game, there were at least two…The first one earlier in the game, Jarrett simply dropped the ball. There wasn’t a defender at his back door, even. Moot point now, though.

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  • mcap

    Got to see the Panthers play for the 1st time Sunday,and was really,really impressed with the defense. They are the only reason why this team has even been close in their games so far. They actually remind me of the Capers defenses we had in the 90′s,alot of bending but rarely breaking. And they are getting turnovers,which would be a really big thing if our offense could do anything on their end.

    Jarrett is history,I’m sure all are aware. I’m sure the DUI played a part,but he was gone regardless. Hopefully we will try and get someone to take some pressure off of 89. Same old story it seems.

    • Eric Quackenbush

      Someone had mentioned the defense being reminiscent of the Dom Capers era already, so to hear it again is pretty neat. That means it’s consistently true.

      Jarrett’s history, and David Clowney is the “newbie.”