Atlanta, GA - The last time I was this disappointed in the Panthers had to be the New England massacre to end last season. Just like that game, we were never in it today. At least we scored on New England. Today, we couldn't even muster that. It's really sad.
I must say the defense started off well, holding the Falcons to just 3 points in the first quarter. Unfortunately, the defense wore down as the game went on. I don't really know if this was due to being on the field too much due to offensive ineptitude or simply being overmatched (probably both), but the defense fell apart. By halftime the score had climbed to 10-0, and you knew it was too much to overcome.
Which brings me to our offense. I don't think I've ever seen a Carolina offense look this bad. Let's start up front with the offensive line. If they were prepared to handle Atlanta's 3-4 defense, they hid it very well. Normally I'd be pissed at Todd Steussie for continuing his false start habit, but Steussie was the least of our problems. There was constant pressure on our quarterbacks today, and it seemed like a lot of it came from the direction of Jeno James and/or Chris Terry. And holes for the running game? Forget about it. If you saw a running game you imagined it. Randy Fasani was our leading rusher, and his yards came on busted plays. The wide receivers caught 4 passes total. I don't know if they were getting open at all, but you have to account for our QB factor.
Chris Weinke returned to the lineup before getting concussed late in the second quarter. Before being replaced, he went 3 of 8 for 26 yards and was sacked 3 times for a loss of 15 yards. He actually ran twice for 15 yards, bringing his contribution for the day to 26 yards. Weinke never looked comfortable, but who would with that much pressure in his face? That's not to let him off the hook, though. Weinke is still unable to complete a pass in the flat, especially to his left. He is unable to handle pressure yet and incapable of escaping it regularly. Bad omen. Randy Fasani stepped into the line of fire next. While he did pile up more yardage (6 of 18 for 100 yards, 8 carries for 58 yards), his accuracy left something to be desired. Randy was scatter-shot, throwing balls behind his receivers, too low, and too high. His ability to scramble limited Atlanta to one sack in the second half, but it also limited him to throwing to the right side of the field.
Aside from a righteous mad-on, there's nothing positive to take from this debacle. If, like me, you actually recorded this bloodbath, I recommend disposing of it immediately. Burn it and offer it as a sacrifice to the ghosts of Vince Lombardi and George Halas, who we have obviously offended. Unless you are a vicious masochist, I would urge you to destroy it once and for all.
Let the flogging continue next week, as Tampa Bay will stroll into Charlotte. Unless local businesses bail us out again, you can bet on another blackout. All in all, it may be more merciful that way.
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