Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Panthers will win Super Bowl

And now that I have your attention, no, I'm not making that prediction. When the span between victories is 287 days, it's bound to give some folks an over-inflated sense of what a football team can do.

I'm not ruling the Panthers as a dead fish, either.

Sunday's 20-17 win over the Washington Redskins was, in the end, the expected outcome. The Panthers were supposed to beat Washington. The Redskins were banged up coming in, and they weren't the best team in the league--far from it. Their 2 wins came over St. Louis and Tampa Bay. Combine their records, and you get a perfect 10. Not a Bo Derek "10." 10 as in 10 losses, and no wins.

So what does it say about the Panthers? Well, considering the Skins held a 17-2 lead in the game, it says the Panthers never stopped fighting. The Redskins were doing everything they could to hold that lead. Carolina wouldn't let them hold it. Call the muffed punt a fluke if you like, but that's the way the Panthers are coached--the downfield coverage players (Quinton Teal in this case), are coached to drive the blocker backwards into the punt returner. It's a completely legal play (this season--we'll see if that changes going forward), and Teal executed perfectly.

If you were at the game on Sunday, did it feel like the Panthers were still in control even when down by 15 points? It did to me. Washington hadn't done anything of note to get that lead. Yes, they forced a fumble on the first play of the game. Forcing DeAngelo Williams to cough up the ball isn't an easy thing. They had a short field, and scored. They get the deflected pass for the interception to the Panthers 1 yard line. Clinton Portis goes all Superman by flying over the pile, and bang. 6 more on the board. 14 of their 17 points came from drives that totalled 14 yards on all of 3 plays. Again, they had done nothing.

I also wondered where the Jake Haters were during the game. Where were you guys? I figure you were calling for Matt Moore during the 1st half when the Panthers weren't scoring. Never mind that he had helped Carolina out-gain the Redskins by 31 yards in the half, with 105 of the yards coming through the air. The Panthers didn't even try stretching the field with the home run pass against Washington. Not once. Tough to throw into DB's like Carlos Rogers and DeAngelo Hall. They put that play away for a week.

Bigger than his passing numbers (16-25, 181 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), all you have to look at is the 9 yard run he converted for a first down to ice the game. I can't run, and I have an outside shot at beating Delhomme in a footrace. Throw in a Pro Bowl corner like Hall to have to stiff arm and gain 6 of the 9 yards after contact, and I have no shot at all. Delhomme showed grit, toughness, and a will to win that is often overlooked by people wanting a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in their lineup. I've said it all season long (going back to training camp), Jake is the guy for the Panthers. Anyone seen how well Michael Vick is doing in Philly? I didn't think so.

Carolina will be favored in their next game, and likely 2. They must do to Tampa Bay this week, and Buffalo the next, what they did to Washington. Dismantle what they want to do, and impose their will.

It would certainly be better for fans, however, if they don't spot the Bucs a 15 point lead in the process.

Mike Solarte

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