Dear Panthers: What Now?

It's fun during the bye week for some fans to say, "At least the Panthers won't lose this week." The sad truth is this bye is the best thing that has happened to this team in the first six weeks of the season.

Dear Panthers,

Seriously, what's the bright spot of the season? Losing to the Saints by two points?

Your coach is a lame duck; there aren't enough adjectives for how bad your offense is; and there's a good chance some future home games are going to be blacked out.

The reasons for the potential blackouts are twofold: 1) you haven't won a game; and 2) you raised ticket prices prior to the season in which you haven't won a game.

Oh, one more reason: You play in a city populated by many transplants who brought their loyalty to other teams with them. So your whole fan base is built around younger Charlotte-born residents who don't know better and rarely seen older Charlotteans who are blindly loyal to you because you're the local team.

You need to return their loyalty and hold on to the fans that you have, because Joe Steeler Fan isn't buying a ticket to sit in the rain and watch you lose to the Bengals.


QB Tony Pike
Chuck Burton/AP/Getty
So how do you return their loyalty? Do you tank the rest of this season and hope for a higher draft pick?

Loyal fans know a high draft pick doesn't necessarily mean a great player is coming to town. The names Chris Weinke and Tim Biakabutuka come to mind.

It's too early to call last year's draft class a flop -- it's unreasonable to expect Jimmy Clausen to be great so early in his career. Right now, though, it sure would be nice to hop in a time machine and not trade next year's second-round pick to move upward and select Armanti Edwards. Especially when Tampa Bay WR Mike Williams got selected just 12 picks later.

It's early, yes, but Williams' career is certainly off to a more promising start than Edwards' and it's no secret how desperately this team needs playmakers at the receiver position.

It will do us no good to lament the past. Let's look to the future. You need to find out if your quarterback of the future is on this team. If it's not Clausen or Matt Moore, maybe it's Tony Pike or even Edwards.

Whoever is coaching this team next year -- or whenever there's football again after this year -- may bring in his own quarterback anyway. Besides, the strength of this team is the defense and the running game. Maybe he decides to make the defense even better and win the way the 2000 Ravens did, in spite of the offense.

That still leaves the next 11 games. When you take the field again next week, you'll have had an extra week to prepare for the 49ers, who may come to Charlotte just as winless as you. There will be no excuses for losing to a winless team at home.

You'd be surprised what winning can do for you. Hell, there are some more very winnable games on your schedule. I dare say I can see you winning six games this year, maybe eight if you get a few breaks and make some of your own.

You play to win the game, every one. Panthers, you won't win every one; in fact, you haven't won any this season. But you've won before and you'll win again ... I think.

The losses are behind you. You are what you are. Eleven games left. What now?



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Michael Stolp is a graduate of Wilkes University with a degree in Communications. He grew up in Piscataway, N.J., and recently relocated to Charlotte, NC. To follow his personal blog, click here.


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