COULMN: Welcome back, 2001 Panthers

COULMN: Welcome back, 2001 Panthers

Dallas, TX - I am so embarrassed right now.

Well, embarrassed and angry.  Is there a word for that?  Pissashamed?  Humil-irate?

I was worried last week about our team backsliding into last year's habits: Poor offense, turnovers, and a defense that collapses down the stretch.  I think we can say everything old is new again.  Welcome back, 2001 Panthers.  We hardly had time to miss you all.

What I'd really like to do now is spray this page with profanity, but I try to keep that stuff out of my work here.  It would be satisfying, but it'll get me nowhere.  Instead, I'll sum up this game short and sweet.

The Panthers come out and dominate things through 3 ½ to 3 ¾ of the game.  The defense is kicking butt and taking names.  The offense, while not high-scoring, is efficient enough to eat up the clock and grab a lead which seems (the operative word here being seems) insurmountable considering how well the defense is playing.

Then, the bottom falls out.  The opponent, and it doesn't matter who we're playing, finds some miraculous spark and pushes our once-stout defense all over the field.  Suddenly, that insurmountable lead is cut and shrinking fast.  Follow this with our ball-control offense not controlling the ball when it needs to, and the stage is set.

The opponent marches down the field for the go-ahead touchdown/field goal, leaving us with roughly a minute to try to pull one out.  Yeah, right!  Seeing as how our offense is built for the aforementioned ball-control, we don't really have the big-play capability to get it done.  End of story.

How in the #^%* do we let this happen?!?  How can we carry a 13 point lead into the last minutes of a game we have dominated so @%^#ing thoroughly and find a way to lose again?!?  I mean, we have lost three games by a combined seven $*#%ing points!  SEVEN!  This is a team the SHOULD be 6-0 instead of 3-3.  And yet we lose again and again!

I don't have the answers, and goodness knows our coaching staff has to know more about football than I do.  Still, as I see it, there's two ways to fix this thing – Either approach could work.  First option: We need to score more points, which I'm all for.  Too often we're settling for field goals instead of touchdowns.  I've said it before, scoring 13-14 points per week isn't going win many games for you.  I don't know if the problem is play calling, talent, or a likely combination of both, but we need more points.  Second option: Find a way to stop opponents in the last five minutes of the game.  Is it play-calling once again?  Is our coordinator putting us in soft
coverage or prevent?  Is it the players and poor execution?  I know we don't have the best corners out there, but I've seen safety issues, too.  Is it coaching and talent?  I have no idea yet.  Once my urge to kill passes, I will review the tape a little.

Until proven otherwise, my faith in this team is on break.  Sure, I'll pull for ‘em.  They're my team – I'm not a complete heel!  But until they show me they can close out a game, I won't expect them to win like I did today.  If they lose to Atlanta, I won't be shocked.  It'll just be part of the

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