Sunday, October 16, 2016

Kick in the Grass

     Okay.  I'll be honest.  I wanted to call THIS blog post -something else- but I decided to hold back.   At least it rhymed.

     This is also my FIRST Panthers post of the year.  As I've said in the past, I don't get paid for this.. and honestly.. I didn't think there was anything noteworthy to write about.  And that really hasn't changed today.

Who Would've Bet?...

     I had hoped to be writing about a 6-0 start and a great look at another run to the Super Bowl.

     Wow!  Who would've called the Panthers a bet to go 1-5 to start the 2016-17 season?   WELL-- who would've called the Panthers a bet to go 17-1 last year and make it to the Super Bowl?    I wish it had been me.

     There will be a LOT of speculation and bad-mouthing of the Panthers going on this week-- frankly, there will be plenty to go around.   So I'm NOT going to join the fray.  At least, not to a great extent.   I have to say a few things, because.. well.. there's NOT much good to be said.

     The Panthers seem to have reverted back to their old ways. I remember the teams of 1997-2001 and 2006-2012.   Most of those were losing teams, with the 1996, 2003, 2005, 2013 and 2015 teams being the only exceptions.

     The typical pattern for those losing Panthers teams?   
  • Start out Slow.
  • Often come back in the third quarter to make the game close.
  • Finish Slow... or else lose in the closing seconds.

Today... & Yesterday...
     Today, Carolina again reverted back.. and back.. and back.. to their old ways.   Yeah, there were some good plays.   Cam Newton threw for over 300 yards.  But Saints QB Drew Brees threw for almost 500 yards.    The Panthers outscored the Saints 38-20 after the Saints jumped out to a 21-0 lead early.

Cam Newton : Lookin' Good.. but Same Result. 

     I have to admit: the Panthers looked great in the third and most of the fourth quarter.  They got a turnover interception by new call-up Teddy Williams, and Newton was lighting it up to receivers Benjamin and Funchess and Olsen.  RB Jonathan Stewart wasn't looking too bad either.  

     They scored four touchdowns--28 points-- in the second half.

     But the problem (unfortunately, a reoccurring one) was: the Panthers did not outscore the Saints in the last 15 seconds of the game.

     For the third time in six games, the Panthers lost on a last-second field goal kick.  Most frustrating in that scenario is the fact that the Panthers' kicker, Graham Gano, has missed numerous FG and even extra point kicks, primarily in close games when it mattered most.
  •    Sept 9 : Panthers kicker Gano misses 50-yard FG with nine seconds left, Panthers lose 21-20 to Denver;
  •    Oct 10 : Tampa Bay kicker Roberto Aguayo kicks 38-yard FG with time expired to beat Panthers, 17-14; 
  •    Today : Saints kicker Will Lutz kicks 52-yarder with 11 seconds left to beat Panthers, 41-38.

What If?... 20 & 6...
     So-- if Carolina had back 20 seconds and only six points, they would now be 4-2 instead of 1-5, and in first place of their division instead of near the bottom of the heap.   Three of the Panthers' five losses have been against division teams, which means they are even more important than non-division games.   

    I have to admit.  It doesn't look good for our Panthers team.  ALL of the past history of the NFL is stacked against them.   There has NEVER been a team that started 1-5 that came back to make the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl.   It looks like we had our cake this past February, but we are not allowed to eat it too.

    Hang in there.  I hear that maybe Panther GM Dave Gettleman is going to make a person-to-person call to ex-Panther Josh Norman to beg him to come back. Unfortunately, Norman is now under contract to the Washington Redskins and this will be an impossibility.   And if that doesn't work out, I hear that maybe the NFL will allow the Panthers to schedule high school or college teams on their schedule next year... just to make things fair and balanced.
      Hang on... More to come.. Hey, if things keep going sour, we could always turn this into a Patriots or Cowboys blog.    Nah.. maybe not.