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.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Super Bowl--- NOT Superb

    This will most likely be a short post.   I will try to keep posted on any Panthers off--season news.   But I'm still in "Panthers Rehab" since their Super Bowl debacle.   The biggest game in 13 years--- maybe the biggest in franchise history--- and we blow it.    Yes-- in some ways, it was oh so close-- but not the score.   
     We were within a field goal or a touchdown at times.  But never in control--- never ahead--- never having a real chance to win.   My friend gave up and went to sleep after the third quarter.   I stuck around and hoped things would turn around--- but they never did-- it just wasn't our day.   On Super Bowl Sunday, we shouldn't have to say that.  It should have at least been competitive  --but seriously, honestly... it just wasn't.

The Super Bowl was a Blooper Bowl
     Still, although it seemed a lopsided loss, a couple of plays may have made the difference. 

     In the first half, Cam Newton was sacked near the Panthers goal line, fumbled, and it was recovered in the end zone by a Broncos player for what has to be the easiest points ever scored in Super Bowl history.  We practically handed it to them.   

     Then, in the second half, a Peyton Manning pass was intercepted, then we fumbled it back to them, inside the 10--yard line.  Another "gimme play".   On another play, a Panthers receiver was ruled out--of--bounds or incomplete inside the five--yard line, and we had to settle for a field goal.   

     If any-- or all-- of these plays had gone the Panthers way, it could've been a different ball game.   At least on paper.

   Could've--- Would've--- Should've--- yep.   It was THAT kind of a day.  And I've been in mourning for the last two months.   It's amazing that I can even remember any vague details of the game's plays, since my mind is doing its best to forget them.

Kelvin Benjamin:
Panthers Comeback
     Since the end of the season, we've scored a couple of Free Agent acquisitions, resigned some veterans, and will be looking forward to the upcoming college draft to fill some more gaps.   But all in all, the Panthers are looking better than ever for 2016-17.    

     One of the biggest pluses is getting WR Kelvin Benjamin back from an ACL injury that sidelined him all of this past season.   We could've really used him, especially in the Super Bowl.    He led the Panthers (as a rookie) with over 1,000 yards receiving.   He will be counted on to recapture his starting role as the Panthers' top pass catcher.  
      Congratulations to the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning.  He went out a winner.   I'm hoping that our experience in a losing cause will serve us in bouncing back with another successful year and playoff run --- maybe even another Super Bowl.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super Bowl--- Superb?

THE SUPER BOWL? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Superb-- the definition is--- excellent, superlative, first--rate, first--class, outstanding, remarkable, marvelous, magnificent, wonderful, splendid, admirable, noteworthy, impressive, fine, exquisite, exceptional, glorious.

   Wow!   Could a football game be ALL of that--- and more?    Well--- Carolina Panthers--- the team, coaches, and fans--- all hope so.

   This Super Bowl has the #1 Offense vs. the #1 Defense.  The Panthers average over 30 points a game, and over 500 yards of offense per game.   The Broncos lead the league in lowest yard average per pass AND run.   Pretty amazing stats!

   It's like the old adage of--- The Irresistible Force (Panthers) vs. the Immoveable Object (Broncos).  

   If you had told me last year that the Panthers would even be in the Super Bowl, it would have been hard to fathom.   But if I had believed you, I would've said that it would've been the Panthers who had the #1 defense.  Not so.   Earlier this season, the Panthers were the #1 Offense and the #1 Defense.   But Denver overtook them in the defensive category.

WAITING GAME ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   I can't believe that it's been over a month since I wrote my last Panthers blog--- especially since so much has happened in that time span-- We clinched the division title.   We won two playoff games against quality opponents in convincing fashion.    We also lost a game to the Falcons, and lost two (count 'em) starting players, and almost a third one, to injuries.

   But it's been more than just a month in waiting.  It's been twenty long years for everyone.  A Double Decade.  We came close several times.   1996.   2003.    And yet--- now we are on the cusp of something unique, something great.   Something never before achieved in the history of the franchise.

    What do I think the game will be like?   Some say it will be a defensive struggle.   It might start that way.   Some think that the two quarterbacks will be in a shootout.    Maybe.   I'm torn in trying to figure out how it may go.  It's been a long time coming, and so I think that I'm just going to sit back and just enjoy it.  

MY PREDICTION --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   If you want a prediction, I'll say --Panthers-- (of course)-- the score?---  Most of you are probably thinking 24--21 or 17--14.   A lower--scoring, close game.    It could happen that way.   But I think the following will happen--
  • The Panthers' offensive line will do much better against Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware than the Broncos' offensive line will do against Charles Johnson and Kawann Short.   I predict Manning will not be a big factor and will be sacked at least five times.   Cam?    Maybe once or twice;
  • A combination of Jonathan Stewart and Newton will be able to run against the Broncos.  I look for them to have 150 yards on the ground.  This will also open up the passing game for the Panthers;
  •  I believe that Ted Ginn will have a big play in the game--- either with a touchdown pass or a punt return.
  • The Panthers' defense will force several turnovers--- both interceptions and fumbles.  They forced 48 turnovers so far this year, which leads the league.      I think the Panthers' offense may also make mistakes, but they will be few, and they will be able to overcome them better than the Broncos. 

   I may be all wrong--- if so, I'll admit to it-- the way I look at it, if the Panthers win, I don't really care if I predicted it correctly or not.   But here goes "nothing"--- my prediction?
Panthers 41, Broncos 17

   We will see how it goes.  In the meantime, if you read this BEFORE the game, include your own prediction below in the comments section.   I'd be interested in seeing WHO predicts the game correctly or not.

   Hope we are celebrating a Panthers victory--- see ya next time on The Panthers Blog.