It's easy to put the blame on injuries or lack of talent. It masks the poor play-calling and gives a tangible excuse to the actual underlying reason -- The team is not put into a position to succeed.
To put things into perspective, let's review the previous pointing the fingers, because those finger-points still apply:
Four weeks ago, my dad called me and expressed his deep concern and disgust for Dan Henning. He wrote a letter to Jerry Richardson, Panthers owner, and mailed/faxed/emailed it to his offices. Four weeks later, he hasn't gotten a response. I suspect there are too many of these on Richardson's desk for him to respond to them all. After all, running a mediocre football team is hard work.
It's never pretty to point the finger, but it's the only way to identify problems and make things better. After all, this team can't acquire much more talent than it has currently. Do you realize how many first and second round picks (ours and other teams') are on the Panthers' roster?
Peppers - 1
Jenkins - 2
Lewis - 1
Rucker - 2
Davis - 1
Gamble - 1
Lucas - 2
Marshall - 2
S. Williams - 1
Minter - 2
Morgan - 1
Foster - 2
D. Williams - 1
K. Johnson - 1
Gross - 1
Colbert - 2
Shelton - 2
Nelson - 2 - retired/released
Wahle - 2 (supplemental, but still counted on the next years' draft as a 2nd rounder)
Is it possible that the Panthers have the biggest collection of underachievers in the league, or is it more of the fact that the aforementioned talent isn't used effectively? Most people believe it's the latter.
Mike Trgovac, what is the deal with your defense? For the most part, we don't have a problem with your game plan, and we understand that your counterpart, the eternal subject of the Finger Point, is largely responsible for your defense being on the field as long as it is. But Mike, this defense has got huge holes in the secondary and has had them for a while. Every Panther fan remembers the Patriots' march late in the Super Bowl where the secondary was scorched by Tom Brady, who had all day to throw and wide open receivers to throw it to. Every Panther fan notes how wide open players are downfield, and how it seems the Panthers always allow teams to complete 3rd or 4th downs at inopportune times. It's been happening for years, but we generally overlook it because the defense does perform decently on average... just not as of late. Plus the argument that if the offense put the team in position to win, there wouldn't be such an emphasis on the defense making big plays all the time. Remember, the Panthers NEVER put teams away, and when they do that, they leave room for error. Humans aren't infallible. That includes the coaching staff.
The Panthers can move the ball effectively. We've all seen that on occasion. However, we've seen the draw play up the middle for no gain time and time again. Fox acknowledges that there are injuries across the offensive line, and that it is a point of weakness, however, the Panthers continue to try to run draw plays through fictional holes created by these players who Fox puts the blame on. Does that make sense to anyone?
Let's illustrate some of the ineptitude:
It's not like the Panthers don't have weapons offensively. They've got what most people believe is the greatest offensive weapon in the league in Steve Smith. They've got a tall, speedy receiver in Drew Carter. They've got one of the best possession receivers in the game in Keyshawn Johnson. They spent a first round pick on DeAngelo Williams, a guy who only ranks as the NCAA Division I-A all-time leader with 7,573 all-purpose yards, a mark that was previously held by Ricky Williams. Williams also holds the NCAA record for career 100-yard rushing games with 34 in 44 opportunities. A few weeks ago, when Foster was out and DeAngelo started at running back, Williams accumulated 175 combined yards with 74 rushing yards and 101 receiving yards. In that game, Williams became the first Panthers running back in history to gain 100 receiving yards. The very next game, Williams carried the ball twice, gaining 1 yard, and had 4 catches for 45 yards. It's that kind of inconsistency and ineptitude that leads the Panthers to three-and-outs offensively, thus putting more pressure on the defense.
John Fox once said, "A punt is not a bad play". Well John, when one takes place on every drive, it is a bad play. You can see it on their faces. You've read their lips. You've seen the body language on the field. You've heard them talk about it in round-about ways on the radio and in interviews. You've heard first person accounts of them pointing the finger at the offensive coordinator.
Fox, make some changes, or you'll become the change.