Eye of the Panther
October 14, 2009 3:15 AM
The Panthers have opened as an early three-point favorite to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
I expected the Cats to be favored by a bigger margin than that, but Carolina certainly hasn't been a juggernaut this year and the game IS being played in Tampa Bay.
Both teams have struggled offensively this season, with the Panthers averaging just 14 points and 97 rushing yards per game and the Buccaneers averaging only 13 points and 94 rushing yards per game.
Look for the team that can improve on those numbers to win the game.
And that team should be the Panthers....
October 14, 2009 3:10 AM
The Panthers signed former Appalachian State star Dexter Jackson to their practice squad on Tuesday, after releasing wide receiver Jason Chery earlier in the week.
A speedy 5-9, 180-pounder, Jackson starred as a wide receiver and kick returner on Appalachian State's FCS national championship winning teams of 2005, 2006, and 2007 before being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
Jackson played in seven games last season as the Buccaneers' primary kickoff and punt returner and may eventually get that same opportunity with the Panthers.
October 14, 2009 3:05 AM
A dramatically improved defense was the key to the Panthers' 20-17 win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon.
Under heavy criticism for their lackluster play in the team's first three games, the much-maligned Carolina defense responded with a solid performance on Sunday, shutting the Redskins down repeatedly in key situations.
The Cats allowed a couple of short-field touchdowns and a field goal, but held Washington to just 74 rushing yards and only 198 total yards in the game.
Newly-acquired defensive tackle Hollis Thomas was a major factor in the game as the big run-stopper played a huge role in shutting down the Redskins' running game.
Linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis and strong safety Chris Harris are now 100% for the first time all year and enjoyed fine games as well as did defensive end Julius Peppers and defensive back Richard Marshall.
Here's a quick look at some of the numbers those guys put up on Sunday:
Beason: eight tackles, two assists, and one sack.
Davis: five tackles, one assist, and a tackle for a safety.
Peppers: five tackles and two sacks
Harris: seven tackles.
Marshall: five tackles.
Granted, it all came against a team of questionable quality in the Redskins, but if the Panthers continue to play defense like they did on Sunday, they can turn their season around and turn it around quickly....
October 11, 2009 6:15 PM
Well, it certainly took them long enough to do it, but the Carolina Panthers finally got their first win of the season on Sunday.
And they did so in dramatic fashion.
Trailing 17-2 in the game's third quarter, the Panthers responded by scoring 18 unanswered points to come from behind and beat the Washington Redskins 20-17.
Held to just a safety (Thomas Davis tackled Clinton Portis in the endzone in the second quarter) until almost midway through the third quarter, the Cats awakened from their slumber when Kenny Moore returned a kickoff 55 yards to put Carolina in good field position and Jake Delhomme quickly followed up with a 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff King, cutting Washington's lead to 17-9.
John Kasay subsequently added a field goal early in the fourth quarter, trimming the Redskins' advantage to 17-12.
The game's most dramatic and pivotal play came on a Carolina punt just over four minutes later, when the ball bounced off Redskin Byron Westbrook's foot and the Panthers' Dante Wesley recovered the ball at the 12-yard line.
Just two plays later, Jonathan Stewart raced into the endzone on an eight-yard touchdown run to put Carolina in front 18-17 and the Cats went up 20-17 when Jake Delhomme hit Steve Smith in the endzone on a two-point conversion attempt.
The shell-shocked Redskins never recovered from the sudden and stunning turnaround, struggling all day to move the ball against a much-improved Carolina defense that held Washington to just 198 total yards in the game.
The much-maligned Jake Delhomme completed 16 0f 25 passes for 181 yards and a TD for Carolina, while Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammed each caught five passes in the game.
And how sweet the first win is....
Now 1-3, the Panthers have a good shot at winning four straight and taking a 4-3 record into a Week 8 showdown with the NFC South leading New Orleans Saints.
The Cats will take their chances from there....
October 9, 2009 3:05 AM
A pair of teams in need of a win will go at it on Sunday when the Panthers play host to the Washington Redskins at Bank of America Stadium.
Carolina comes into the game with an 0-3 record, while Washington comes in at 2-2 (lackluster wins over the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and losses to the New York Giants and Detroit Lions) and neither team has been impressive in early-season play.
And Sunday's game is essentially a "must-win" game for both teams.
Carolina can't risk falling even further behind the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South and the Redskins can't afford to fall any further behind the New York Giants and/or Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East.
Let's face it, Panthers fans.
If the Cats are going to turn their season around, they have to start NOW.
Sure, they're 0-3.
And that's disappointing.
Anyone that knows anything about the National Football League, however, knew that an 0-3 start was at least a possibility, given the fact that the Panthers had to face the Philadelphia Eagles (a popular pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl) in their season opener and then play the Atlanta Falcons (another highly-rated team) and Dallas Cowboys on the road in games 2 and 3.
But now the schedule turns in the Panthers' favor.
Their next three opponents are the aforementioned Washington Redskins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Buffalo Bills.
NFL have-nots all.
Teams the Panthers not only could beat, but SHOULD beat.
Long gone are the glory days of the first tenure of Joe Gibbs in Washington and Marv Levy's days in Buffalo, when the Redskins and Bills were among the league's premier franchises. And the current edition of the Buccaneers is a far cry from Tony Dungy's and Jon Gruden's good Tampa Bay teams.
No, these are three teams the Panthers can beat.
Three games that they can win.
And have to win.
Starting with Sunday's game against the Redskins...
October 1, 2009 3:37 PM
The Panthers signed veteran defensive tackle Hollis Thomas on Thursday.
Known as a run-stopper, the 6-1, 340-pound Thomas spent 10 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, before playing the last three seasons for the New Orleans Saints.
Thomas has played in 165 NFL games, including 123 starts, and has made 670 career tackles.
The acquisition of Thomas should help shore up the middle of the Panthers' defensive line, which has already lost both Maake Kemoeatu (torn achillies tendon) and Louis Leonard (broken ankle) to season-ending injuries.
September 30, 2009 5:10 PM
Think things are going badly for the Panthers right now?
No doubt about that.
But the Cats have plenty of company these days.
In fact, FIVE of last season's eight division champions have losing records in 2009, including Carolina (0-3), Tennessee (0-3), Pittsburgh (1-2), Arizona (1-2), and Miami (0-3).
What a difference a year makes where the National Football League is concerned....
Is there time for the five winners-turned-losers to turn their seasons around and get themselves back on the winning track?
Sure, there's plenty of time for those five teams to get their acts together and turn their seasons around.
But NFL history isn't on their side.
Teams that struggle in early-season play usually continue to struggle throughout the year.
That's just a cold, hard fact.
And make no mistake about one thing.
All five of those teams (Panthers, Titans, Steelers, Cardinals, and Dolphins) have now played themselves into serious trouble.
Maybe one or two of them can overcome the odds and save their season(s).
But that's probably about it.
Brace yourself NFL fans, this year's playoffs are going to look a lot different than last year's....
September 28, 2009 11:55 PM
Just when you think you might see an exciting, interesting, and high-scoring NFL game, you get the exact opposite instead.
That was certainly the case on Monday night when the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys met on ESPN's Monday Night Football.
Two of the NFC's most explosive offenses (when they're playing well anyway) managed just two touchdowns and scored only 28 points between them in a 21-7 Dallas win.
Carolina didn't unleash their vaunted running game often enough (DeAngelo Williams rushed for 64 yards in 11 carries - good for almost six yards per carry - but why only 11 carries???), and while Dallas was able to move the ball up and down the field, the Cowboys had plenty of trouble putting the ball into the endzone.
A pair of maligned quarterbacks, Jake Delhomme and Tony Romo, both completed 22 of 33 passes (for 220 and 255 yards respectively) but Delhomme had only one touchdown pass (a 25-yard TD toss to Dante Rosario that gave Carolina a short-lived 7-0 halftime lead) and Romo didn't have any.
The Dallas defense, which has also been maligned for their lackluster early-season play, played a LOT better than Carolina's "defense" (the Cats allowed a whopping 449 total yards), recording three sacks, a forced fumble, and two interceptions, including one that Terence Newman returned for a fourth quarter touchdown, sealing the win for the Cowboys, who scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to win going away.
There's really very little that you can say about the game from a Carolina perspective that would be positive in nature.
The Panthers have to start playing better.
A lot better.
September 26, 2009 3:15 AM
As if the start to Carolina's 2009 season hasn't been strange enough on it's own, now comes word that Charlotte radio personality "White Shadow" of the Ace and TJ Show will camp out on the roof of the show's radio station until the Panthers win a game, presumably as a show of support for the currently beleagured Cats.
"I know we've had a rough start to this season, but it really disappoints me to see all of these Panthers fans giving up hope." White Shadow said. "They're giving up hope and I don't like it, so I'm staying up here until the Panthers get a win."
That's certainly admirable on White Shadow's part, but this could really get interesting if the Panthers don't beat the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night because the Cats have a bye in Week 4 and don't play another game for almost two weeks (13 days).
That's a LONG time to spend on a rooftop, Panthers fans.
Forget about winning one for the Gipper, the Cats need to win one for the White Shadow!
September 23, 2009 5:15 PM
With the Panthers off to an 0-2 start and many Chicken Little types saying that the sky is falling in Carolina, the major news media has wasted no time in ramping up their "Bill Cowher will be the next coach of the Carolina Panthers" stories and rumors.
This week alone, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and the Sporting News have all featured Cowher-to-Carolina stories despite the fact that we're only two weeks into the NFL's 2009 season.
Fox NFL analyst Terry Bradshaw got the ball rolling on Sunday, saying "Bill Cowher wants to get back into the NFL and he will go to Carolina."
That statement set off the wave of stories that followed.
Such speculation is nothing new of course. We've been hearing it since Cowher resigned as coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
And it's true that Bill Cowher played his college football at North Carolina State, lives in Carolina, loves the area, and wants to get back into the National Football League.
There's just one problem with the Cowher-to-Carolina stories and rumors.
The Carolina Panthers already have a coach.
And he's a pretty good one.
Considered one of the best in the league in fact.
Is it possible that John Fox will be fired?
Sure, anything's possible.
But it's not all that likely.
Just last season, Coach Fox led the Panthers to an NFC-best 12-4 record and the NFC South title.
It's natural to speculate on possible coaching changes when Super Bowl winning coaches like Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, and Mike Shanahan, among others, are out there and available.
But that's all it is.
And nothing more.