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.
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.
Follow Cat Crave on Twitter @THECatCrave.