Dan Henning will never escape the eye of Sauron, and we don't feel we need to re-hash the fact that the Panthers begin every game with one hand tied behind their backs offensively.
For the last few weeks at least, the shadow of shame has been cast on Jake Delhomme, who was once the scrappy and scruffy-looking nerf-herder that enjoyed the challenges of leading a team that offensively has one hand tied behind it's back, and is now showing signs of turning to the dark side, much like Anakin Skywalker letting his emotions rule him as he trusts the evil emperor Palpatine, (or Dan Henning in our case).
Jake -- Throw the ring in the fire. Use the Force. Trust your feelings... you know them to be true. You must unlearn what you have learned.
You can tell that Delhomme doesn't trust the playcalling in his body language. He sulks off the field, he shakes his head.
The offense has been predictable, boring, ineffective. More lembas bread? Indeed. He often has no time to throw, as if his offensive line of Ewoks are bowled over by Storm Troopers. Too bad we don't have an Obi-Wan Kenobi. "This isn't the QB you're looking for," he'd say as he'd wave his hand and use the Jedi mind trick on the opposing defenders. Honestly, that might be the only way Delhomme will get protection this season. Perhaps we should draft a Jedi?
Many of the fans are turning to the dark side and letting their emotions control them. Let go of your anger! "Fear is the path to the dark side," said a wise green puppet. "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
First and Goal, Lito Sheppard notices that Jake slaps his fanny, which in some places mean something x-rated, but in our case it means Jake is going to throw a fade to Keyshawn in the end zone. Lito knows this because he studies film. Lito jams Keyshawn (some of which is beyond the five yard "zone"), there is no call, and Lito intercepts Jake. Ballgame. I don't chalk that up to being anybody's fault, rather than Sheppard being smart enough to know what the Panthers are running and doing something about it. Still, the DeAngelo Williams had been running the ball like the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field the entire game... why not give him at least 1 shot to punch it in? Run some time off the clock, you know, because there's this whole problem lately with letting teams come back and beat them late and everything...
But the big stink finger needs to be pointed squarely at the Panthers defense. Jeff Garcia, freshly off of two turd-ball seasons in Cleveland and Detroit, respectively, returned to Pro Bowl form against the "Vaunted Carolina Panthers Defense".
"I think that tonight was a great opportunity to showcase my physical and mental toughness," Garcia said after the game. "I don't think like I have lost it. I believe I can still do quality things on the field and I can still lead this team in a positive way. It might not always be pretty, but we are going to find a way to get it done."
No Jeff, you were playing the Carolina Panthers -- The Kings of Collapse; The team that will find ways to lose despite playing decently well 9/10ths of the game.
The Panthers allowed Garcia to pass for 21-for-39 for 312 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Garcia is just the latest in a line of QBs like Kyle Boller, Bruce Gradkowski, Tony Romo and Jason Campbell who should be exploited because of their lack of playing time, but instead look like Pro Bowl players because of the ineptitude of the Panthers defense as a whole.
True, the Panthers played most of the game without Ken Lucas, who might just want to cut his leg off and cover someone while riding on a Rascal. However, this secondary has been putrid since 2003 largely because of the safties and the coverages that they run. Teams know, obviously, where the holes are in the Panthers' defense and they continually exploit them. Safties regularly get beat deep. Corners are out of position, or are playing way too deep to be effective. Missed tackles abound. Blown coverages. Blitzing at the wrong times, not blitzing at the right times. It's a comedy of errors, and if it were a Looney Toons cartoon it might be funny. But it's not.
Fear not Panther fans, John Fox is leading the charge an will change absolutely nothing in his gameplan for the New York Giants this week. That should give you solace and make your belly warm on a cold day.
The Panthers are playing for a draft pick, you say?
I don't know about you, but I'm really hoping they pick another guy who played one position in College and are planning on turning him into another position in the pros, like Chris Gamble and Thomas Davis, instead of guys that can contribute like DeAngelo Williams or Richard Marshall.
That, and the return of Dan Henning would really make me want to buy tickets in 2007!