The Carolina Panthers seem to be the opposite of clutch. Time and time again we find a way to lose, even with an eleven point lead, in the last minutes of the fourth quarter. That’s not really new news to any Panther fan though, which is really sad when you think about it.
As always, I was fortunate to have tickets to Sunday’s game, and let me just say Panthers fans are some of the best fans in the NFL. My friend and I probably had the best time at this game than I have ever had at any other game I have been to, and we didn’t even win! So props to the fans, we are some of the best fans around!
As for this week’s list, like the Dallas Cowboys list, I plan on writing only three bad things about the Panthers instead of the full five. The Panthers played well enough to win, but sadly didn’t, which seems to be the story of season. Am I right?
- The Offensive Line – Again the woes with the Offensive Line continue. They gave up two sacks in the contest, and allowed Cam to be hit constantly, even giving everyone a scare with an injury. To me, where the Offensive Line failed against the Buccaneers was penalties. The Panthers gave up more than their usual amount of Offensive Penalties. The team gave up ninety one yards on eleven penalties, with the majority of them being on the Offensive Line. Pitiful. It makes you wonder what happens at practice, especially with the really young O-Line.
- Penalties – I feel like this really killed the Panthers. Especially the Thomas Davis “illegal” hit. Without that call, I think we could have stopped the Bucs, and secure another win for the Panthers. Another penalty that could have led to something was Steve Smith’s pass interference. Even though it was blatant, it could have been something and would have given us an earlier 21-10 lead.
- Coaching – Boy it was bad. The defense felt slack the entire game, except for the second and maybe some of the third quarter. The offense played well but there wasn’t much mix up in play calling, and they came back to the read-option again. Special Teams was improved from last week, but not much, and the one punt fake was not needed. Bad play calling really reared its head in the last Bucs drive, and their drive in overtime. The defense played with no intensity what so ever, and in overtime, it seemed to me that McDermott ran the same scheme, take away the long ball with deep safeties, and play the front seven high, leaving the middle of the field wide open. I hate to say it, but this could be the nail in the coffin for Ron Rivera.
- Offense (excluding the line) – Cam showed why he is the starter in Carolina. As did Stewart, LaFell, and Smith. They played exceptionally well with a weak line. Stewart found ways to break tackles, and so did Cam, combining their efforts for eighty three yards against the league’s best run defense. LaFell lead the team in receiving with ninety three yards and a touchdown, while Smith and Olsen contributed as well. The offense looked slow to start, but once Cam gained confidence after Munnerlyn’s pick-six, which really showed on the field. I was really proud of the unit, LaFell and Newton showed us the future of the team, and it seems bright.
- Defense – Even though the unit seemed slack to me, they still played great. Kuechly had another great game, and in my opinion is the Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Davis played out standing with sixteen tackles. The secondary, a unit with zero depth what so ever, recorded two interceptions! One for a score! Our D-Line, which has been our strength on Defense, seemed to be the least exciting part of the Defense, with only one sack recorded. They all played well though, and I was pleasantly surprised by Cornerback Josh Thomas, who really made Mike Williams irrelevant.
I was devastated by the Panthers loss. Not only did we play well enough to win, we played well enough to romp the Bucs. We had three touchdowns; four if Smith didn’t get called for pass interference, compared to the Buc’s two. I leave it to bad coaching. I’ve never been vocal about my feelings about the coaching staff, because I wasn’t really sure who was to blame for the losses. I still don’t really know, but I have a feeling about coaching staff. It seems like the team just wasn’t motivated, and some of that is how a coach, coaches. Take a look at Greg Schiano; he has the tools, like Carolina, and wins, unlike Carolina. He finds a way to motivate his team to come from an eleven point deficit to score seventeen points in about five minutes. You could compare Rivera to Raheem Morris, the Buccaneers old coach. A coach with all the pieces, but just lacks that head coaching magic to make wins out of those pieces. Schiano is running with the same basic unit, exceptions being, Barron, Jackson, Clark, and Martin. Schiano’s Offensive Line is weaker than Raheem’s, which is completely made up of free agents. But he can win where Morris couldn’t. We should have won. The Panthers are a better team. We just lack that Tom Landry, Sean Peyton, or Tom Coughlin factor. To close a game, to abandon play schemes that are proven to fail, these are things that we just don’t seem capable to accomplish. It’s shown against Atlanta, Chicago, and now Tampa. Rivera is a great defensive coordinator, but not a great coach. Please leave your thoughts in the comments though; I would love to hear any thoughts on the topic.