The Cardiac Facts
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The Cardiac Facts

This Halloween the Fox Network really outdid themselves with terror based programming. The full uncut versions of Halloween, The Exorcist, Psycho and The Shining could never compare to total horror that was the Panthers vs. Seahawks. The nightmares I had last night were nearly enough to contemplate sleeping drugs. Seriously, give me a hotel room full of axe wielding Johnny Torrance's over one Colin Branch and I will sleep like a newborn.

And while he may not have been a good conversationalist and let a screaming, heel wearing Jamie Lee Curtis elude him for 12 hours straight, I do believe Michael Myers could have wrapped up Shaun Alexander better than (insert Carolina defender name here) did any any point in yesterdays massacre.

Yet despite all the frightening events that took place during the Panthers game, the thing that got the hair on the back of my neck to rise actually occurred during an earlier game. I was tuned into the Ravens - Eagles game eagerly waiting for Ray Lewis to decapitate Terrell Owens when during a break they showed the Texans leading the Jaguars and CBS announcer Dan Dierdorf made a comment of the Jags being the Cardiac Cats and will win the game in the 4th Q. It was of course an unsubstantiated claim as the Texans trounced the Jags, however it got my blood boiling to think that the Panthers are held in such a low regard by the press that even our much touted moniker can simply be attached to any any feline mascot based team without even the courtesy of an E-Bay auction.

Come on now, what if Stuart Scott referred to the New York Giants as the Steel Curtain Defense for it's smelting of Daunte Culpepper today on Sportscenter? Would there not be a windy city outrage if the Falcons were called the Monsters of the Midway for leaving the Broncos breathless at Mile High? Can anyone claim that Drew Brees plays behind the 'Hogs' O-Line down in sunny San Diego? Hell no, those are nicknames etched in stone for time immortal. Does this same NFL tradition not exist for Carolina?

Ah, but I have to think like a journalist and get the facts. And the sad but true fact of the matter is that it was people in our own backyard who should be condemned for nickname larceny. I am not sure if it was the Panthers organization, the Observer or ESPN. But the 2003 NFC Champion Panthers were not the first NFL team to be the Cardiac Cats. We stole that identity. So, who was first? Well, it was the 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars under the fourth quarter saving arm of Mark Brunell that earned the name. Whilst the newborn Panthers were using killer D to beat their way into the NFC title game, the somewhat more docile Jaguars where using guts and guile to work their way up to the AFC championship game. The name never got national attention as the Patriots ended their 96 run to the Superbowl. But the name belongs to the people and players of Jacksonville to rightfully do with as they please.

Whilst I still have the journalism cap on, I decided to take a look across the past 10 years of Panther history with an unbiased eye. What I see is that pretending tends to be something this team can best claim as a legacy. To kickstart our birth into the NFL, we were able to quickly build a team with spare parts into a contender in 1996. The bubble of course busted because we had no depth and youth to carry on the path set by the old men that took us to the brink of the Superbowl that season. Our rise to the Superbowl last season was a little more disguised as we all thought there was a formula in place that would carry this team well into the future. We all have bought into the notion that season after season we would be able and known for running the ball down teams throats and punishing them with an unmovable defense.

Well it is November now and Halloween is over. With the masks off and our tummies aching after too many trips to the Lombardi candy bowl we have to face some of these Cardiac Facts:

1) We do not have an offensive staff or philosophy that is going carry this team forward. (To spell it out, Dan Henning must go)

2) Our Defense is not as good as we all think

3) We have lost our ability to be special on special teams

4) We have only had a 'dominating' running game 1 out of 10 seasons. We are better known for injured runners.

5) Steve Smith is sorely missed

The Cardiac Cats of last season were indeed a fraud in more than just stealing a name. We had some good breaks and the players believed enough to play to the bitter end and we made the Superbowl because of it. Yet here we are back to being the Patsy Panthers, and what is worse is that this team is playing at a level inferior to the 2001 1-15 team. Our offensive schemes are too dependant on certain players and injuries have just made us an easy win for any team we face. While losing Jenkins is critical to the front four, the loss of belief in the system by the players is why nobody on the field can tackle a room full of mannequins.

At 1-6 the playoff hope is now just an outside mathematical probability. The Panthers should still play to win every week for we need to find out who needs to stay and who needs to waived. But what I am going to expect this off-season is some changes to the staff. I still am fully behind John Fox and Marty Hurney. But I am going to expect them to face the facts this off-season and make the changes needed to build consistency into this program, pride in building on a legacy each season by the players and finally a team that will one day truly deserves it's own nickname....

Marc Stanton is the owner and operator of PantherFanz.net