Monday, October 10, 2011

An Open Letter to the Panthers

Dear Panthers,

The time has come to turn the corner, guys. It really has.

Through five weeks, you have proven that you can hang with any team on your schedule, some tougher (Green Bay), than others (Jacksonville). There is no shame in the losses. Sure, losing sucks, but this is a far cry from the losses that piled up last year. A year ago, you guys looked great going into the national anthem. It was generally all downhill from there.

That's not what we see now. Now, we see a team that has been invigorated by a breath of fresh air. It no longer "is what it is," it is what promises to be. It's a fan base that holds their breath every time Cam Newton has the ball in his hands. Not because they worry he's going to throw it to the opposite jersey color, but because more often than not, he takes your breath away. The fans want that breath to cheer with.

Still, the reality is that the record is 1-4. In each of the losses, there has been one deficiency to point at as the culprit. One week it's no success in the red zone, another was the inability to stop the run. This week, it was coaching decisions (the timeout before the half, and the call to throw on 3rd and 2 in the 4th qtr, when a first down keeps the ball, and the clock moving). Yet throughout all of that, all four losses have come by a combined total of 22 points, or just over 6 points per game.

Last season, the offense couldn't get out of its own way. Now, the offense is searching for another field to conquer. The defense has been good at times, dreadful at others. This defense, though is missing 3 key players that were counted on at the start of the campaign, and have had other players miss a game here or there, due to injuries, namely concussions. There is blame to be had, and not one of the defenders would shy away from accepting his share. That is a quality group of high character guys.

There is plenty of character on offense as well, don't get me wrong. It's a good collection of young players that continue to grow week in and week out. The fact remains, that being close to wins only carries you so far. The late great "Bum" Phillips, former coach of the Houston Oilers once spoke at post-season rally for his team. A team that came up short of their Super Bowl destination. He summed up his teams' journey for the previous seasons by saying, "two years ago, we found the door, this year, we knocked on the door, and next year, we're gonna kick the son of a b$#^@ in!" This Panthers team is capable of kicking the door in.

Time to find your boots, gentlemen.

Mike Solarte

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