Monday, October 27, 2008

Something funny happened on the way to 6-2...

The Carolina Panthers are legit.

There, I've said it.

8 weeks into the NFL season, the Panthers have shown themselves to be a better than average football team. They are NOT the best team in the league, but they are in the conversation. You have to look at them and put them in the mix of teams like the Giants, Steelers, Tampa Bay, and maybe Dallas. Dallas did beat Tampa, but something about the Cowboys strikes me as "car-wreck waiting to happen."

Carolina has 2 losses, both on the road, to Minnesota and Tampa. The loss to the Vikings was based on one play--the sack, fumble, recovery for TD just before the half. That gave Minnesota all the momentum, and they rolled in the 2nd half. The loss to the Bucs was horrifying--Carolina was nowhere near the word "good" that day.

In their 6 wins, they have come from behind in 3 of them (San Diego, Chicago, and Arizona), and were dominant against Atlanta, New Orleans and Kansas City. The nay-sayers will look at their 6 wins and say there is maybe 1 playoff team in the bunch (that being the Cardinals who could win the NFC West by default). I say, this is a Panther team that wins games, no matter the opponent.

Couple things from Sunday's game:

Steve Smith is ultra-motivated. His play has become the benchmark for this team. When he is going, the Panthers are going. I'm not talking about his big plays, I mean his quick hits where he throws out the stiff-arm and scoops up 3-5 more yards. He is a competitor, and he LOVES to play. Such a joy to watch.

Props to the Panther defense, but my question is this--why were the DB's playing off the receivers at the line? It's no wonder Kurt Warner had a big day (381 yards passing), when he was able to hit his targets when the corners are playing 7 yards off at the snap. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are very good receivers--no need to give them so much cushion. I guess it was part of the philosophy of not giving up anything down the field, but that, to me, was too much respect.

I have a request for all you Panther fans that were at the game Sunday, and will go in the future. When the score is tight, like it was Sunday (24-23 in the 4th quarter), PLEASE DO NOT START THE WAVE!!!! Are you kidding me? Your team is in a dogfight, and you guys are doing the stinking wave? Arguably the most ridiculous fan thing ever invented. 1 point game. 4th quarter. Rather than get up when it's your turn to "keep the wave a-rollin'," get up and pay attention to the game! When I see Charlotte rated as a poor sports city by publications, I point to these exact instances as to why.

You have until November 16th to get that wave thing out of your system. Please, for nothing more than my personal sanity, exorcise that demon. Thanks.

You friend,
Mike Solarte

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