There were high hopes coming into this season for the Carolina Panthers. There was talk of making it back to the playoffs, a newspaper ad guaranteeing a Super Bowl win, and the return of Offensive Rookie of the Year Cam Newton. But after another disappointing loss following the firing of GM Marty Hurney, it’s safe to say nobody’s job is secure anymore.
The Panthers played pretty solid defense for once, except at the end when it mattered most. They were able to get to Cutler (for most of the game) and get six sacks with three by Greg Hardy who has been pretty quiet up to this point. The rookie Josh Norman had a nice interception early on, but like the rest of the defense could not come up with any big stops during the Bears’ final drive.
Coach Rivera, a former Chicago Bear himself would have liked a win at Soldier Field, but missed opportunities in the red zone which resulted in five field goals in all, and an untimely pick six by Cam Newton, sent this season a little farther into the downward spiral that we have all witnessed. It remains to be seen if Rivera is out after this season, along with several other coaches, but continued losses like these will not help his candidacy. Whenever we get around to hiring a new GM, they will most likely want to hand pick the next head coach.
It was nice to see the Panthers use a more NFL-type rushing attack because I still do not believe the read option can be successful at this level. However, the statistics for the run game did not improve for a team with so much invested in their backfield. Stewart was the leading rusher with only 42 yards and he again took the majority of the carries with seventeen. This only furthers speculation that the Panthers are looking to deal Deangelo Williams before the trade deadline. Some teams that could use some backfield help due to injury are Arizona, Green Bay, Dallas and Pittsburgh. Although Williams is a fan favorite and has given so much to Carolina, it may be time to free up some cap space and see if we can’t get some draft picks in exchange.