The Carolina Panthers started this season off looking like a solid playoff contender. The outlook on the Panthers was that they were being underestimated until the coming out party against the Ravens. It was looking good for the Panthers at that point. Then they came out and did the same thing against the Buccaneers the next week. At 6-2, The Panthers were one game behind the Saints and looking to make a real run. As a Panthers fan, I looked at the remaining schedule and thought the Panthers would lose MAYBE 3 more games. I counted the Steelers as a maybe, the Saints once, and maybe the Seahawks. Boy was I wrong.
The Steelers annihilation of the Panthers was rough to see, however I still had faith that the game was just a fluke and the Steelers finally decided to show up for a game. Then the Panthers lose by 1 to the struggling Lions. I understand that the game was in Detroit, but the Panthers had no business losing that game. This L was followed up by another loss at the end of the game to the Seahawks. That game was not managed well, and the Panther’s defense couldn’t touch the Seahawks. At this point, I still had faith the Panthers could pull it together and make the playoffs. Then they just continued to disappoint. The Buccaneers game was the worst. The Bucs continuously tried to give the game back to the Panthers, however Cam took the game into his own hands and threw 4 interceptions. At this point, I had no hope left and was not surprised at all when the Panthers dropped their 5th, yes 5th, in a row to the Browns.
In my opinion, the struggles begin when the offense is dependent upon Cam’s throwing ability. In games when Cam throws more than 30 passes, the Panthers have a 2-6 record. However, when Cam throws less than 30 passes, the Panthers are 4-1. Also, the Panthers defense has been among the worst in the league, which is baffling to any Panthers fan. Even Luke Kuechly has been off this year. It seems as if the Panthers have not been playing team defense and have been missing tackles all season. This led to the scapegoat firings of the defensive line coach and assistant defensive backs coach. According to inside sources, Ron Rivera has lost the faith of the locker room, mainly the veterans. Not many players were happy with the firings that took place because they knew that the blame was not on those coaches. Apparently, Rivera is good friends with the defensive backs coach which explains why the assistant was fired. As we come to the end of the season, we can all see where the Panthers are headed, back to the drawing board. I assume that Rivera will be let go and a new defensive coordinator will be hired as well. Eric Washington was demoted from DC when the firings took place, which he definitely deserved. The defensive play calling has been a problem for the Panthers all season long. Norv Turner may get another chance to prove himself next year, but I expect a short leash considering the inconsistency of this year. The Panthers still have a slight chance to make the playoffs this year, but I don’t see them making it out of the wild card round with this spotty play on both sides of the ball.