FIRST AND TENIf you think watching the Carolina Panthers lose game after agonizing game is painful, don't read the papers on Monday morning. There is absolutely nothing this columnist can write that will dent the sheer volume of venom spewing forth from the local media.
Here's what we woke up to this morning:
"There were too many mistakes by the Panthers - too many dropped passes, too many untimely penalties and too many missed tackles or blown run assignments. And there were too many yards gained by the opposing running back, Seattle's Shaun Alexander....the best the Panthers could do was hang around for the better part of three quarters before fading away like a sunset on the horizon of the nearby Pacific Ocean." - Joe Menzer, Winston-Salem Journal
"Which Panthers are making the mistakes that prevent them from winning? 'It's everybody,' safety Mike Minter said. 'And that's what makes this so hard.'" - Tom Sorensen, Charlotte Observer
"The Panthers defense can't stop opponents from scoring and the offense can't score. When there's a play to make that will determine the outcome, the other team makes it. When the Panthers move into position to win, they negate it with a mistake. Carolina lacks the firepower on either side of the ball to overcome its errors. The Panthers simply aren't good enough to beat the good and pretty good teams they so far have played." - Tom Sorensen, Charlotte Observer
"There's one very simple reason why the Panthers are 1-6: Carolina's equation for success isn't even coming close to adding up. Coach John Fox's formula is to win with a strong running game on offense and by stopping the run on defense. That was extremely effective a year ago, but not these days." - Pat Yasinskas, Charlotte Observer
"Although Carolina has a relatively easy stretch of games coming up against Oakland, San Francisco, Arizona and Tampa Bay, nothing is a given for this team, especially since they can't stop the run." - Steve Reed, Gaston Gazette
"It seemed each Panthers penalty came at exactly the wrong time, either stopping them cold or giving the Seahawks new life." - Darrin Gantt, Buzzfans.com
Think these boys are a little ticked off at the home town team? If you're still not convinced, check out Monday's leading headlines:
Feelin' run down
Panthers aren't good enough to bite back
Another one slips away
Breaks continue to elude Panthers
Carolina faces back problems again
Receiver disputes his costly penalty
Panthers lose fifth straight
Seattle ensures skid continues
Stumbling in Seattle
Not to say that the players themselves haven't helped feed the furnace. Brentsen Buckner, apparently, has nominated himself as team spokesman.
""It's frustrating," Buckner said. "It's not like Seattle's a great running team or Shaun Alexander is a top premier back. It's just a matter of guys not being where they're supposed to be."
"It's not about new guys," Buckner concluded. "You get paid to play football, whether you're new to this team, whether you're the backup that came in as a starter or whether you're a starter that's been here for a while. You get paid to do a job and it's not getting done right now."
With the deluge of negativity from the media and the players doing their best to remain apolitical, I think it's best that I not make things worse by beating a dead horse.
But just in case there's a heartbeat:
THE JUSTS"We're just not doing it." Jake Delhomme
"We just didn't play our defense." Julius Peppers
"You've just got to keep working; maybe it'll turn around somewhere." Jake Delhomme
THE JUST NOT ENOUGH'S"No safety net — Strong safety Travares Tillman did not play because of a forearm injury, leaving the Panthers with no backup safeties behind starters Mike Minter and Colin Branch. The team waived their other backup safety Jarrod Cooper earlier in the week. Eddie Jackson and Dante Wesley would have been used there if an emergency had arisen." - Steve Reed, Gaston Gazette
A FEW KEY STATSFirst Downs:
Third Down Efficiency:
Net Rushing Yards:
*NOTE THIS ONE ---------
Time Of Possession:
So to respond to Dan Henning's propensity for the passing game, I'll pull a "Doctor Phil"…How's that working for you, Dan?
I was actually tempted at one point to log onto the internet and get Leon's cell phone number so I could ask him to walk over to John Fox and beg him to call a running play.
A FEW OBSERVATIONS FROM SUNDAY'S CONTEST- The Panthers abandoned the run early. Musta been that 14-0 deficit.
- Defense missed too many tackles. The second quarter missed tackle by Branch on a swing pass to Shaun Alexander that led to an easy touchdown was embarrassing.
- There has been at least one blown timeout in every game due to the near expiration of the game clock.
- Henning actually called a pass play to Mike Seidman. It was overthrown, but it was to Seidman. That's progress.
- If Colin Branch had gone to Duke he would have remembered to fall on the second quarter fumble that eventually led to a Seahawk touchdown.
- Seattle should have put the Panthers away in the first half. I think they got up by 14 and slacked off a bit.
- You just knew it was going to be a long day when Jordan Gross false-started on the very first offensive play.
- Keary Colbert is a keeper. Damn fine catch, son.
- Where's Muhsin Muhammed been all season?
- Seattle ran left all day, over smallish Kindal Moorehead and gimpy Mike Rucker.
- It might be time to start thinking about Dan Morgan's replacement.
- Could Jake Delhomme use a quarterbacks coach? Wouldn't hurt my feelings.
- Mike Trgovac might just be coaching himself into a demotion.
- I thought the offensive line did an excellent job. Jake had loads of time to throw.
- But so did Matt Hasselbeck.
- Think Joey Harris can take Nick Going's job next seaon?
FOURTH AND GOALI say, dance with the one that brung ya. Get back to running the ball come hell or high water, control the clock, bring up the safeties, win the field position battle and make the big play when it presents itself. Be firm but opportunistic.
It ain't rocket science; it's football. Even the newsies know that.
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