Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Highs and Lows of 4--and--0

     HIGH  After just a little over four minutes in the game, the Carolina Panthers had forced two turnovers, including another Josh Norman interception return for a touchdown, and had a quick 10-0 lead.   This was a refreshing contrast to past games, in which the Panthers usually fell behind early and came back in dramatic fashion to win the games.

     HIGH  Having a perfect, undefeated 4-0 record is a luxury only had once before by the Panthers.  That was the start of the 2003 season, one in which they went all the way to the Super Bowl.

     LOW  The rest of today's game wasn't quite so perfect, as the Bucs came back within a touchdown twice, before the Panthers finally went up by three touchdowns and held on to win, 37-23.

     HIGH  The Panthers forced five Tampa Bay turnovers, including four interceptions.

     LOW  Amazingly, the Bucs outgained the Panthers with over 400 total yards to just 244 for Carolina.  Carolina won the game based upon field position and big plays, mostly on the five Tampa Bay turnovers.   

     HIGHS  Panthers QB Cam Newton put in another fine game, throwing for two touchdowns to WR Ted GInn,Jr. and running for another score.  RB Jonathan Stewart rushed 50 yards on 10 carries, averaging an impressive 5.0 yards.  

     HIGH & LOW  Next week is the BYE week for the Panthers, so there are TWO whole weeks for fans, analysts, and scoffers to whoop, holler, and belly ache about either how great is the achievement of a perfect 4-0 record, or how superficial it is.   Most of the naysayers will point out the weaknesses of the four teams that Carolina has beaten.

     HIGH or LOW  While still a believer in the team, I am one who would exercise caution in predicting just how long this winning streak will continue.   We will definitely need these next two weeks to prepare for our next opponent, and those that follow will not be any easier.   The next four weeks could spell doom for our season, or perhaps usher in a door of opportunity.  It will be the supreme test of our season.  Outside of perhaps Dallas and Atlanta, these next four opponents (Seattle, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Green Bay) will determine just how good (or bad) we are as a team.

     HIGH & LOW  After this tough four-game stint, we have two mediocre opponents, Tennessee and Washington, before going to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day to play the Cowboys.  Then we finish out the season by playing away from home four out of six games.   These include home-and-away games against Atlanta (who is also undefeated--and tied with us for the division lead).  These two games could be crucial to win our division--unless we keep winning and Atlanta hits a downturn.

     In summary, I'm ecstatic for the Panthers to be 4-0 and undefeated at this stage of the season.  We have normally started slow in the past.  It's great to be up and confident.  However, the most difficult part of the season is in front of us, not behind us, and we will know more about our team at the end of November than we do now.

     No one expects the Panthers' undefeated status to continue for very long, just as none of us really expected them to be 4-0 at this point.  For it to even reach one more game, the Panthers have to be much more consistent offensively against the Seattle Seahawks. Amazingly the Seahawks, usually one of the top-rated defenses, is ranked 30th among 32 teams.   Don't expect them to play like it when they face us, though.

     My PREDICTION for the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS game?  WELL... I'm NOT gonna be the first (or last) to predict the Panthers falling from their undefeated pedestal.  I do NOT think this will be an easy game for us, but I'm going to predict that we pull it out, maybe in the last minute of the game.   SCORE?  Panthers 27, Seahawks 24.

     Before you go, please LOOK in the far right column and take our Panthers Poll.  Just click on your prediction for the final regular season record.  My prediction ?  11-5.  Yeah, I know-- very optimistic.  But... that was Carolina's record during their 2003 Super Bowl year.   Here's hoping...

     Looking forward to the ride.  It could be rocky.  Might be a roller coaster.  But I'm still up for it.   Buckle your seat belt and let's go!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Winning Two & Deja Vu

    The Panthers are now 2-0 after wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans.  I was impressed a year ago after the Panthers started the same way, beating the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Detroit Lions.  Any similarities between the 2014 and 2015 starts by the team are swiftly dismissed by anyone on the Panthers team, both coaches and players.  They say this team is a different team, and they are focused not on the past, but on their next opponent, the New Orleans Saints.

   But the biggest similarity that I do see is in the level of opposition for both the first two games of 2014 and these two games in 2015.   The only winning team out of the four opponents was the Detroit Lions, who were 11-5 in 2014.   The cumulative record of the 2014 Bucs and this year's opponents is 3-17.   The scheduling has favored the Panthers so far.   As I have written before, they should look to take advantage of this, as things will not get any easier come the games in October and November.

   The combined 2014-15 records of the next two opponents is 10-26.  The combined records of five opponents in Oct/Nov (Seahawks, Eagles, Colts, Packers, and Cowboys) is 61-31.  I am in firm belief that we need to be 4-0 or at least 3-1 before we start this rough uphill climb against much tougher opponents during the midseason.  Also, we need to win at least two of these five games, and hopefully more, if we have a chance to win our division or make the playoffs.

   The Panthers played "good enough" to win the last two weeks.  The offense was mediocre at times.  They did not take advantage of all of their opportunities, but scored when it was required to win the game.  The defense was great at times, but had lapses.  It also rose to the occasion when the game was on the line.    But the Panthers obviously have the talent to be better than they have showed the first two games.  They should and can dominate games against weaker opponents.   They will have to play much better against the upcoming five stronger opponents to have any chance of winning those games.

   Here's hoping that they will rise to, not just the occasion, but to the pinnacle of their success.


Saturday, August 8, 2015


The CAM CONTEST is underway... official entries will be accepted up until the opening day of the 2015 season... which is Sunday, Sept. 13 @ 12 Noon EDT.

Go HERE to Enter---

Please READ all of the Official Rules before submitting your entry.  Good Luck!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Protecting the Blind Side

OT Michael Oher (#73)
New Panther Michael Oher
Oher as a Raven
Most people know or remember Michael Oher through his portrayal by actor Quinton Aaron in the Academy-award winning film The Blind Side in 2009.  However, Michael Oher wants his coaches, teammates, and fans to know him by his excellent play on the football field.  He was a first-team college All American at Ole Miss in 2008, and drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens, where he spent five seasons and won a Super Bowl. After a disappointing year with the Tennessee Titans, the Panthers signed him to a two-year contract and gave him the starting Left Tackle position formerly held by Byron Bell.

General Manager Dave Gettleman and the rest of the Panthers front office and staff see a huge potential for Oher.  Gettleman said, "We feel very strongly that he can be an answer for us."  It appears that the team has acquired quite a gift that shores up a huge gap left by the departure of Bell.   Most of the other offensive linemen are returners, including longtime veteran C Ryan Kalil.   While some feel this to be a weak spot on the team, it appears that the returners have chemistry, and also welcome the addition of the 6'4" 315 lb. Oher to the lineup.  In addition to him, the Panthers also traded up to acquire tackle Daryl Williams from Oklahoma in the 4th round of the draft.

Michael Oher and his 'mom'
Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side"
Oher's life story was chosen and adapted from a book called Blind Side: Evolution of a Game (2006).  When asked about the movie, which starred actress Sandra Bullock as his adopted mother Leigh Ann Tuohy , Oher says it's not one of his favorites, and he rarely watches it, although its reruns are broadcast periodically.  It portrayed him as a gifted athlete, growing up in poverty, who was quite inept as a student.  True-- his GPA was once 0.76 and caused the NCAA to investigate his potential enrollment at Mississippi, but by the end of his senior year, he had raised it to a respectable 2.52.  Although he is positive about the effects the film has had on underprivileged youth across the country, he downplays the exaggerated stereotype of his character.

Michael Oher will be out to get his career back on track, being on his third team in three years, having been cut by both Baltimore and Tennessee.  His job will be to duplicate his character's movie role, when he protects QB Cam Newton's blind side during each game. The Panthers are betting on him to come through for them in a big way.  Hopefully, that will result in a low sack total and a successful season for the Carolina Panthers.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


   It's been awhile since the last Panthers (or sports) post.  That's NOT to say that I haven't been comtemplating the upcoming season, and reading everything that I could get my hands (or eyes) on about the Carolina Panthers.  Last year's up-and-down rollercoaster season ended on the upswing.  After going 12-4 with a division championship in 2013, the Panthers started with two wins, and fans' fantasies began to conjure up aspirations for another great season.  However, this temporary dream quickly became a nightmare as the Panthers went 1-8-1 over the next ten games, with a six-game losing streak.  

2014 NFC South Standings
    At the start of December, the Panthers stood at 3-8-1, and in third place in the NFC South.  Their chances of any hopes for the playoffs looked dim, as only the lowly Tampa Bay Bucs stood between them and last place.  Then something happened.  A kind of metaphorosis brought a butterfly out of Carolina's cocoon, and the Panthers ran the table over the last four games, going a perfect 4-0.   Even though their mediocre 7-8-1 record was nothing to write home about, three of those last four wins were against division foes, allowing them to squeak by the Saints into first place and make the playoffs.   
   So-- here we stand, going into the 2015 season, having won two straight division titles, where is there to go from here?   Some prognosticators and fans expect an average year for Carolina.  I've seen predictions of 8-8 and 9-7.  One of these was even from an ex-Panther player, DE Mike Rucker.  However, there are others, including most of the Panthers players and staff, who anticipate a third division title and/or playoff spot. Some are even going so far as to predict a Super Bowl.

Panthers DE Mario Addison
  Reserve DE Mario Addison said from Panthers training camp, "They're ain't no limits-- we're going all the way...   I see a Super Bowl.  I feel it, man."  Teammate TE Greg Olsen replied, "Would I be surprised if we did (make the Super Bowl)?  No."   Such sentiments are welcomed by Head Coach Ron Rivera.  However, he added that he didn't want to see these comments in the newspapers.  (That's where this reporter read them!)   Fans may recall that at the beginning of 2012, center Ryan Kalil took out a full-page advertisement in the Charlotte Observer where he told everybody of his prediction that the team would go all the way (and WIN) the Super Bowl.  The Panthers ended up not even making the playoffs.

   Advertised or not, the Panthers' chances look good this year.  They retained 21 out of 22 starters from last year's team, plus adding some valuable players through the draft and free agency.   Some of them include new rookie WR Devin Funchess and the return of speedy WR/PR Ted Ginn, Jr. on offense, as well as new rookie LB Shaq Thompson and veteran DB's Charles TIllman and Chris Houston on defense.   This bumper crop of new talent combines with such all-star veteran Panthers as QB Cam Newton, RB Jonathan Stewart, and LB's Luke Keuchly and Thomas Davis.  The Panthers look to be stronger in every area, which prompts a bystander like me to give the team just a better than average chance to make it deep into the playoffs, or maybe go all the way.

Panthers Schedule
   However, lots of things can go wrong during a season.  Already, a valued reserve went down with an injury in training camp.  As I look over the 2015 Panthers schedule, it is anything but a cakewalk.   I see no reason why Carolina cannot go 4-0 or 3-1 over the first four games.  But then, after their BYE week, they hit a potential brick wall, playing four games against playoff teams, including at defending NFC champion Seattle, and then three straight home games against Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Green Bay.  These four opponents' combined 2014 records were 45-19.   A tough road to travel.

   My feeling is that if the Panthers get to mid-season with a 5-3 or better record, then their chances are more than optimistic to repeat as a playoff contender.  After this four-game test, the rest of their schedule looks much easier, with the only question marks being a Thanksgiving Day contest at Dallas, and then three games against division foes Atlanta and New Orleans.  They aced NFC South teams in December last year;  that's a good sign, although it's no guarantee this time around.

   Will this be the year that the 1995 Super Bowl promise by owner Jerry Richardson 
finally and belatedly comes to pass?  (see Editor's note--- below) 
We'll have to wait and see. But some, like myself, see a glimmer of hope.

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson

   Okay-- buckle your seats, Panthers fans!   Here we go.  We're getting ready for take-off on another exciting Panthers NFL season.  I'm ready... what about you ? 

Editor's Note--- just in case you're a longtime Panthers fan (like myself), and 
actually remember owner Jerry Richardson's original Super Bowl promise in '95, 
yes-- you are right, it was a promise to win the Super Bowl within ten (10) years
The Panthers came close three times, making it to the NFC Championship in 
1996, 2003, and 2005, and one of those years (2003) they appeared in the Super Bowl, 
narrowly losing to the New England Patriots in the closing seconds of the game, 32-29.


Guest Bloggers are Welcome at this Panthers blog and all other sports blog here.  
Just leave us a note, stating your interest.  All published content is subject to the editor's approval.


Panthers Fans!
      Bob's "Panthers Blog" brings you a Fun Contest! --- Okay, HERE WE GO!  

  All you have to do is to log in to our "Comments" section at the bottom of this blog post, and enter in your PREDICTION for the 2015 Panthers Regular Season Record.  { Remember- this is a 16-game season, so a prediction of 10-2 will be invalid. The wins & losses have to total 16 games }.

  We are stipulating that there must be at least 10 (or more) contestants to be a Valid Contest.  If more than a few fans participate, there are bound to be TIES for the winning record prediction, so BE SURE to also include your tie-breaker entry.

  ALSO--We have to know who you are to award the winner, so please specify : (1) your first name & initial, and your hometown in the blog comment, and then (2) send us an email with your full name.  You must complete BOTH of these to be eligible to win.

  So--you may say-- What's the Deal?  you haven't specified the CONTEST PRIZE.  Well-- we're keeping THAT a secret right now.  Last year, there was only ONE contestant, and she didn't follow the rules correctly.  So we're waiting to see if there are enough contestants (10 or more) to even award a winner.  

   But don't let THAT fool you.  We're planning on a nice prize.  Some of our ideas are an autographed Panthers cap, or a meet-and-greet with a Panthers player.  And all you have to do is--LEAVE A COMMENT-- with your predictions!   Pretty Easy, huh?


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What's One Man's Worth?

   It's been almost six months since my last Panthers post.  While no games have been played, a lot has happened.  Trades have been made.  The NFL draft took place.   The Panthers are a better team.   Perhaps the biggest reason for this, however, just took place yesterday when the team agreed to pay quarterback CAM NEWTON an $103 million salary extension over five years.

   The last time that I remember being so excited about a pro football contract was reading about JOE NAMATH's (see my sports blog) contract with the New York Jets.  You see, at that time, I was not yet a Jets fan, but by 1968, I was following them, and that year they won the Super Bowl.  This was a pretty big deal because, at the time, the Jets were part of the new, upstart AFL, playing against the old, established NFL team Baltimore Colts.   After the Jets upset the Colts to win the championship, his $427,000 rookie contract paled in comparison to the team's accomplishments.

Quote by Marcus Aurelius
  In similar fashion, the Panthers are paying their QB an enormous sum (the biggest in NFL history) to keep him in the fold, and hopefully pave the way to a championship.  NEWTON himself said that his main focus is "bringing a Lombardi (Super Bowl) trophy to Carolina."  Will it happen?   Maybe.  But maybe not right away. 

  What about this season?   Well--- it could happen, but nothing's for sure.  I've taken a look at our schedule, and we have an away game against NFL champ Seattle, and then a tough three-game home stand against the Eagles, Colts, and Patriots.   No blowover.  These four games in November could make a huge difference in the success of our season.  So we'll keep watch.  Hopefully, by then, the Panthers will be in the driver's seat for another division title or a playoff berth.

   Next up-- an article looking into the changes in the Panthers lineup since last season.  We'll welcome a new rookie receiver, welcome back a speedy veteran receiver, and look at some other additions on offense and defense.   The Panthers are a much better team this year, and we'll look at all of the reasons why.