What’s going on in Panther Nation? This question seems to perplex even the smartest NFL analysts. The team has lost their identity within a matter of six months and they’ve sunk into a hole they can’t dig themselves out of.
On Monday night they fell to the Buccaneers. The Buccaneers didn’t do anything extravagant, and in all honestly, they should’ve lost the game, but with the constant disappearing act of the Panthers offense, it was enough to give the Bucs a win. With Cam Newton out due to a concussion, the Panthers backup Quarterback, Derek Anderson, had to suit up and deliver a much-needed win. The Panthers were confident in winning this game. Even with an absent Newton, Anderson has played against the Bucs before and won, twice in 2014. During that stint, Anderson didn’t turn the ball over once, but this year, they proved to be costly.
Let’s not be totally negative, the Panthers finished the game with 414 yards, 99 more than the Bucs, but it was the turnovers that cost Anderson and the Panthers the game. The biggest turnover happened at the Bucs one yard line, first and goal, Anderson threw it to Olsen in the right corner and it resulted in an interception by Brent Grimes. Anderson’s other turnovers were a tipped ball and a fumble. Rivera spoke about the turnovers post game,
“The thing we didn’t do is we didn’t protect the football. We turned it over twice on the offensive side in the first half and didn’t give ourselves the chance to score. That’s the thing we can’t do,” Rivera said. “We have to be able to protect the football and give ourselves the opportunity to score.”
The Panthers seem to be in purgatory. In a matter of six months, they’ve gone from being guys having fun, to barely holding their heads in the locker room. Was last year really a fluke? I’ve mentioned before countless times that last year was lucky, but to see a team drastically change this much, you have to wonder where did it go wrong? The Panthers advocate being a family team, but with the recent mishandling of Josh Norman and now Bené Benwikere, the Panthers seem to be scratching the surface and looking for answers on their “roster” (in which there aren’t any).
So, what’s the answer if any that can fix the Panthers problem? Firing of OC Mike Shula? Is Gettleman loosening the grips on his purse? Or good old’ patience? If you’re a real Panther fan, this season isn’t a TOTAL shocker, you’ve been here before (Hi, 2014 season or even worse the 2001 season). The shock comes in this team having no sense of urgency. The Panthers front office lack having a “do or die” attitude and winning by all means; maybe that’s what calmed down Cam Newton. For years the Panthers have been mediocre and skating by on luck, and not gunning for real Super Bowl contingency. If they want to continue seeing success resembling their 2015 season, they have to realize the perfect panther doesn’t exist and he can’t be molded and homegrown. The front office needs to become efficient in the free agency and snatch up contenders and veterans who can make a world of difference. Having your secondary look like kids among pros is embarrassing and while also adding, cutting players on emotion is never a good thing.
It’s not the time to panic… yet. Hover your hand on the button, though. This week the Panthers face the Saints in another tough NFC South battle. The Saints, like many others, have the Panthers offensive line number and can easily take this win, but let’s hope Newton returns with the tenacity and urgency to win to turn this season around.