You know that hangover when you can feel the pulse is in your head and you just want to curl up in a ball because your eyes are so sensitive to light. That’s how I would describe the play of the 2016 Carolina Panthers. It’s been absolutely atrocious opposing quarterbacks are playing seven on seven against our defense on top of that we become colorblind and have butter fingers. Those factors add up to a 1-5 record and the faintest chance to reach the playoffs at this rate.
This is coming off a magical year where it seemed we couldn’t do anything wrong with a 15-1 and looked primed to claim the franchise’s first championship but we ran into Von Miller and the Denver Bronco defense. This just proves it’s hard to win consistently in the NFL matter how good you were a new year can change everything you think you know about the National Football League and the Panthers are learning a brutal lesson about that.
The Norman Effect
The first thing people are going to talk about is the team’s gamble to rescind the franchise tag of all Pro cornerback Josh Norman. That gamble has definitely not paid off our secondary is like Swiss cheese there are so many holes with two rookies on each side and they are getting schooled.
I backed our decision to let Norman walk the reason why was our front seven wreaked havoc, creating money pockets forcing bad throws allowing Norman and other defenders to take advantage. This year our defensive line is like where’s Waldo all of our pass rush has completely disappeared, forcing Sean McDermott are defensive coordinator to bring extra guys on blitzes causing a weakness to become weaker. Our defense has gone from number six in the league to an atrocious 29th and that fear that opponents had when facing our defense has quickly evaporated now quarterbacks are licking their chops and they are absolutely picking us apart.
While I agree, that Norman is a factor in our struggles we also lost veterans like Charles Tillman, Jared Allen and Cortland Finnegan have played a vital role in the defense of success last year. I think the lack of pass rush has been a bigger factor than the loss of Norman because it’s put even more pressure on the rookies having to cover for so much long has exposed the fact that they are young and don’t know the speed of the NFL. There’s no doubt this gamble has backfired, but you’ve also got to put it on the execution by the players just as much the decision of the organization.
The offense has had its share of struggles I think the big reason why is because they understand they have to match the opponent score for score to even feel like they have a chance to pick up the victory. Thus causing Newton and Anderson to force things resulting in turnovers and bad decision-making. The team had a league-leading +20 turnover ratio in 2015 and now has a terrible -7 ratio giving opponents short fields and more possessions digging deeper holes for us to come back from.
Not only that, our offensive line has been less than desirable, causing quarterback Cam Newton to run for his life and he has suffered a concussion this season because of that. Ultimately that cost us a big chance of victory against division rival Tampa Bay. Additionally the wide receivers haven’t made the plays to help Newton. We look to be pressing and there have been way too many negative things on the offensive side of the ball despite our ability to put up points. If we can get healthy and somehow keep Cam Newton upright we can put up points we proved that it’s just a matter of stopping the opponent that’s been the issue.
Honestly we’ve looked absolutely terrible and frankly deserve to be where we are at 1-5. However, we’ve lost three games by field goals a missed 52-yard field goal as time expired in game one. A game-winning field goal by Tampa as time expired and a game winning field goal with 11 seconds left against the Saints. The reality is we are those three field goals away from possibly having a 4-2 record. That’s the way the NFL goes and it’s been gut-wrenching to watch, but it is what it is. To be honest, I’m losing a little confidence in Graham Gano he’s missed 2 extra points and three key field goals that could’ve changed the result of games.
The season has no doubt been disappointing, but it’s not over yet the Kansas City Chiefs were able to overcome this start and make the playoffs so anything can happen, but we have to play with a sense of urgency and desperate the rest of the way to give us the best chance possible to make the playoffs.
I just want people to stop playing the blame game we haven’t played good football at all in the execution from the coaches and the players has been subpar and that’s why we are struggling not because Josh Norman isn’t a Panther anymore. I bleed black and blue every season no matter the circumstances even if I’m frustrated that’s what we have to do Keep Pounding!!