Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pics from Panthers Past


Me @ Panthers FAN FEST a few years ago

Me & Fred with Sir Purr


Tuesday, August 12, 2014


    Hey Panthers Fans!
      Bob's "Panthers Blog" brings you a Fun Contest!  

  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 2014 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 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.


Panthers 2014 Schedule

Newton, Williams & Stewart Ready to Go

   Word in the Panthers camp is that QB Cam Newton, and RB's DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are ready for action and will play at least a half in the Panthers' next preseason game on Sunday, August 17 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. 

   I don't know about you, but this Panthers fan is ready to see that Triple Threat back on the field.  While Carolina had spurts of brilliance in their narrow loss to Buffalo, "nothing could be finer" in Carolina than to have these three back in pads again.

   Also- look for a deep throw sometime in the game on Sunday from Newton to rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin.   While Benjamin only caught one pass against the Bills, it was a 29-yard circus touchdown catch in the end zone, and caused both fans and sports people to stand at attention.  Also, keep an eye on Tavares King, claimed off waivers from Denver this year, who caught five passes and looked spectacular.

   We're posting the Panthers Schedule today, so look it over for your favorite games and to make a prediction for the Panthers season.   If you're lucky enough to correctly predict the Panthers regular season record, you will be eligible for a drawing to win a Cam Newton autographed Panthers ball cap.   Look for the post entitled "Cam Contest."  All of the "Official Rules" are there for you.   Only the predictions entered as a blog comment on this post will be considered.   Go & enter now !

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Are You Ready for Some Football ?

© 2014 by Bob Wingate

   Hank Williams, jr. used to get fans excited by kicking off Monday Night Football  TV broadcasts with this song.  After over seven months of “vacation”, the NFL and the Carolina Panthers kick it off again for their 2014-15 seasons.  

   it’s about time, don’t you think ?

   The Panthers got about as close to the Super Bowl as they’ve been in a long time last year, winning eight straight and 11 out of 12 games on the way to the NFC South division championship and a berth in the playoffs for the first time in five years.  The last time they made it to the postseason, it was a fiasco (a lopsided loss at home to the Arizona Cardinals in which QB Jake Delhomme was personally responsible for six turnovers).  Last year wasn’t much better, as the 49’ers played “payback” in beating the Panthers [we had beaten them earlier in the year on our winning streak].  One again, it was a humiliating defeat on our home field.


   Sometimes I have trouble remembering what happened yesterday, but if memory serves me correctly, the Panthers’ best times included : the NFC Championship game (vs. the Packers) in just their 2nd season (1996);  a trip to the Super Bowl in their 8th season (2003); and a Divisional Playoff game in their 13th season (2008).  But unfortunately for us, all of these pinnacles of success ended in season-ending defeats.

   This year, our 20th Anniversary season, the Carolina Panthers come back more determined than ever to repeat in their own division, and move on in the playoffs.  Easier said than done, the Panthers will have a tough road, with a tough schedule (see blog “Panthers Schedule”). 


   The season-before-the-season started last night, with the Panthers hosting the Buffalo Bills in Charlotte’s Bank of America stadium. 

   Don’t believe anyone who says “the preseason doesn’t matter.”  While it may be true that the games are not taken as seriously as the regular season, our team does not easily forget what happened the last time they met the Bills.  Buffalo drove the field and scored a touchdown in the last second of the game to win, 24-23.  At the time, the loss left things looking pretty dismal for our season at 1-3.  No one really could have imagined then that we would go 8-0 in the middle of the season, finish at 12-4 and get in the playoffs.

   Not surprisingly, it was announced at game time that starting QB Cam Newton would not play in the Panthers’ first preseason game, still recovering after having off-season surgery on his left ankle.  Newton is entering his fourth year as a pro, and he will only add to his growing legacy.  He is the only player in the NFL to have passed for 10,000+ yards and run for 2,000+ yards in his first three seasons.  This year, he will no doubt pass 100 TD’s rushing and passing.

   After a relatively quiet first quarter, in which a Bills field goal was the lone score, the Panthers came alive on the first play of the second stanza with backup QB Derek Anderson (#3) hitting rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin (#13) in the end zone on a beautifully executed 29-yard touchdown pass.  Strangely enough, with a new experimental PAT (extra point) from the 15-yard-line, they missed the kick and the score was doubled at 6-3.


   The pendulum of momentum swung back with the Bills, scoring ten points before halftime.  After a fumble recovery, Buffalo scored on a 1-yard run with four minutes to go in the half.  Then, with seconds left on the clock. they kicked a second field goal to go up by 13-6.  The Panthers had spots of brilliance, sandwiched by two offensive turnovers that led to Buffalo scores.  

QB Joe Webb
   Late in the third quarter, CB Josh Norman saved a touchdown with an interception in the end zone.  But on the next play, a costly holding penalty brought back a  Panthers 52-yard pass play, and backed them up to their own 9-yard line.   At this point, QB Joe Webb (#14), acquired in the spring from the Minnesota Vikings, and in a battle just to land a roster spot, looked impressive in driving the team down the field, both throwing the ball downfield to WR Tavares King (#12) and eluding defensive pressure with his footwork.  It was capped off by a 6-yard touchdown run by RB Darren Reaves (#36).  A two-point conversion failed, and the Panthers still trailed by one, 13-12, with 11:32 left in the game.

   Just as quickly as we inched back into the game, the Bills took it back by executing a drive of their own, and suddenly it was back to an eight-point lead, 20-12.   With their backs against the wall with a fourth-and-10 at the two-minute warning, the Panthers got a break with a defensive holding call that resulted in an automatic first down.   That’s all they needed, as a couple of plays later, Webb hurled a line-drive to WR Brandon Williams (#86) for six.  Down 20-18, and going for two and a tie, the Carolina roller coaster took another nosedive as a pass bounced in front of the receiver.


   Game Over.. right ?   Not yet.  The ensuing onsides kickoff was bobbled, and recovered by the Panthers.   Made and missed opportunities were the story of this game, and this continual pendulum swing meant the Panthers had one more mistake to make.  Webb’s pass bounced off of his intended receiver, and was intercepted with only 0:53 on the clock.  The Bills would then just run out the clock, and the game ended too close for comfort, 20-18.


·        (+)  It’s only the first preseason game ;
·        (+)  After losing our entire receiving corps (four players) from last year, WR’s Benjamin and King played extremely well ;
·        (+)  Although we may not really need a third QB with Cam Newton and Derek Anderson already on the roster, JOE WEBB made an impressive show.

·        (-)  Yhe offense totally overshadowed our #2-ranked defense ;
·        (-)  We gave the ball away to the Bills way too much ;
·        (-)  We LOST… it’s never good to lose, even in the preseason.

NEXT UP:  New England Patriots (Aug.22)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ask and You Shall Receive

Matthew 7:7 : "Ask and you shall receive."

     The Panthers front office may end up praying this prayer before the beginning of the next NFL season.  What started as an unresolvable personnel issue with 15-year veteran star receiver Steve Smith has mushroomed into a much bigger and seemingly unsolvable problem.  As Smith's release and subsequent rapid signing by the Baltimore Ravens was being announced, an equally rapid series of exits took place, the Panthers suddenly losing Domenik Hixon to the Chicago Bears, Ted Ginn Jr. to Arizona, and Brandon LaFell to the New England Patriots.  

     What began a few weeks ago as a bad situation has soured into a bottomless pit for Carolina's receiving corps.

   We Carolina fans got a whole lot more than we bargained for in this past season.  Toward the end, we were a little disappointed, but for the most part, it was a year with more highlights than drawbacks.  We saw a team that went on a roll, winning eleven games in a row, winning the NFC South division championship, and going to the playoffs for the first time in five years.  Once again- we were denied a chance at the Super Bowl, but overall, we had a lot to make us glad and happy.

   After several years of struggle, LaFell had come into his own, gelling as the Panthers' legitimate partner to Smith at wideout.  Ginn had been touted as one of, if not the, fastest player in the league.  And Hixon, although he only caught seven passes in 2013, might be nominated for MVP, as one of those seven catches was a circus touchdown catch in the end zone with seconds left to win against the Saints to virtually wrap up Carolina's NFC South division championship.

   But now, all that seems a distant memory of the past, as once again, we are left with only faint hopes of a revisit of last year's success.   Once again, our beloved Panthers are in rebuilding mode...

    The above Receiver Stat Comparison shows the vast gulf that exists, now that four of the leading Panthers receiver have set sail for other horizons.  The stats on the left, of the ex-Panthers receivers, are stats from the 2013 season.   The stats on the right, of the receivers that are currently left in the Panthers corral, are not season stats, but CAREER stats.  As you can see, it was not necessary to have a TOTAL line at the bottom.  Most kindergarteners can add up those stats in their tiny little heads.

   Now, Carolina's big-game QB Cam Newton has very few, if any, targets to throw to, and after the announcement that Newton was undergoing ankle surgery and would be out for 4-5 months, any chance of first securing a group of quality receivers and then Newton having any chance of developing any kind of a rhythm with them is virtually nil and void.

   Over the last few days, headlines have surfaced in newspapers, magazines, and on the Internet spelling doom for the Panthers and their offense.  A squad that seemed adequate at times, but not very powerful or able to launch an aerial assault, was often carried along by Carolina's vaunted and Top Five defense.  The Panthers led the NFL in sacks, but were near the bottom in offensive plays over 20 yards.  These recent circumstances only serve to drop the offensive stats to an even lower level of potency.

   In addition to these receiver exits, the Panthers also lost G Jordan Gross to retirement, and S Mike Mitchell in free agency to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

   Did the Carolina Panthers "drop the ball" in so far as their talented trio of Smith, LaFell and Ginn are concerned ?    This writer thinks so.. what about you ?  When four players, especially at the same position, leave that quickly, it is definitely a sign that something deeper than salary caps is involved.    Who knows ?  All I do know is :  The Panthers have a lot of "catching" up to do.   


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Book All Panthers Fans Should Get


  I'm presently reading the new book by Charlotte Observer sports reporter Scott Fowler, titled "100 Things Panthers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die".   What a Title !

  I can hardly wait to get into this book and see just what goodies are in store for me.. and all other Panthers fans. 

 If you haven't got your copy yet, you can order you a copy through Amazon.com or other book retailers, or contact the author himself at www.charlotte.com.