PI: Pointing the finger

The Panthers' latest loss was still freshly steaming like freshly-laden dog-droppings on a cold day, when my father, a PSL owner and die-hard Panthers fan called me on the phone. "We have to do something, this is ridiculous," he said, referring to the latest installment of Carolina Panthers football. "I won't watch another game if Dan Henning is the offensive coordinator."

It sounds as if it's a knee-jerk reaction to a poorly coached and executed game, but to Panther fans, this latest game could be the straw that broke the camel's back.

Panther fans have long hated offensive coordinator Dan Henning because of "his" conservative and ill-advised play-calling. I write "his" in quotation marks because Henning shoulders a lot of the blame, when in fact, John Fox should be held accountable for his subordinates' performance, or lack thereof. It's been debated what level of input Fox has during the offensive play-calling. There has been many times in the past where the Panthers would run a play that defied logic, and Fox would be just as surprised as the rest of us, mouthing obscenities in disgust. Still, Fox relies on Dan Henning to devise an offensive scheme and gameplan, while also having input on personnel matters that shape the roster.

Some of the Charlotte media debated back and forth whether the team should bench Delhomme or not, or what the cause of the panthers' offensive problems could be. After all, the players run the plays that a re called, right? How likely is it that a running back is going to gain a first down on a 3rd and long on a draw play, not to mention a pivotal 3rd and long situation that would end the game, when you haven't been able to run with much success all day? Why even give Jake the option of running a run play at that moment? Why not call a play that ensures many options for a first down, or at least close to it?

Jake Delhomme has more come back from behind wins from 2003-present than any other QB in the NFL during that span. How come the Panthers can score (or could in the past) when they need to? The answer is because Delhomme calls his own plays in the two minute drill -- not Henning.

To quote John Fox, "A punt is not a bad play". It is when you need to put teams away -- a feat the Panthers haven't mastered in the five seasons under Fox and Henning. The Panthers play not to lose, an it often backfires in their faces.

Despite the Panthers making the Playoffs twice in the four years that Henning has been the offensive coordinator, (reaching the Super Bowl in 2003 and the NFC Championship last season), some fans believe the team has won despite Henning's play-calling and coaching, and not because of it. And they are angry.

Let's be clear -- this isn't just a one-time offense. This is a culmination of all the befuddling calls and conservative plays the Panthers have run since 2002. Runs where there should be passes. Passes where there should be runs. The inability to adapt during games. The lack of a Tight End in the receiving game. Predictability. Lack of a killer instinct. Vanilla plays that never work.

Fans are tired of it. They are tired of shelling out their heart-earned money to see a third and long draw play. They are tired of shelling out their heart earned money to see the Panthers' leads continually disappear because their defense has been on the field all day due to the lack of execution of their offense.

Certainly, 6-5 isn't a horrible record. However, the Panthers have offensive talent, and haven't used that talent to its full potential in a long while. Whose fault is that?

The Panthers currently rank 24th in the NFL in total offense, and 8th in total defense. The only reason the Panthers are 6-5 at this point is because of their defense. In fact, they would be even better statistically if the offense could stay on the field on a regular basis instead of being the second-worst third down converting team in the league.

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