What a mess. Yes, the Carolina Panthers are a total mess.
Monday night proved that in more ways than one. The team had a chance despite injuries and a backup quarterback to come out and get a divisional win against a Buccaneers team that they clearly look on paper to be better than.
Instead, more mistakes, both mental and physical, were made and the team fell on the final play of the game as the Bucs hit a field goal 17-14.
With 11 games left in 2016, turning this around is possible, but the questions seem pretty clear, how do they do it – and how did we get here?
Here’s a couple reasons as to why the team has reached this point.
Not having Cam Newton is obviously a huge deal, but there were other injuries suffered by the team that has put them behind the 8-ball in terms of moving forward.
One injury is that of running back Jonathan Stewart, who the team is hopeful to get back soon. Monday night backup Cameron Artis-Payne had 85 yards and two scores, but it was not enough.
The team also was without left tackle Michael Oher (concussion) and cornerback James Bradberry (toe), and it seems like every time they take a step forward with injuries, they take two steps back.
The turning point of this season was when the team was up 10-0 on the Minnesota Vikings at home in week three, and put it in cruise control, only to get punched in the mouth and never fired back, and in the end wound up losing 22-10 in a stunner.
Sometimes (as expected after a Super Bowl) teams think they can just throw their helmets on the field and win, and that’s what it feels like right now with the Panthers, that they are just thinking ‘we’re better than this team,’ and not putting the effort forth to get the job done.
While it falls on the players, it also falls on the coaching staff to motivate and get a gameplan ready for these guys to be ready to go out and play, and there’s been weeks it just hasn’t been there.
3. A Defense Going Backwards
The Panthers D was very good last season, but this year has not gotten the job done in just about any facet. They showed Monday night they couldn’t stop the run or the pass, which is why the Bucs were able to go down and kick the game winning field goal.
One example of a breakdown was the final drive when on 3rd down the ONLY wide out on the field was Mike Evans for the Bucs, and yet with three guys around him Jamies Winston was able to get it to him for a first down.
Josh Norman not being around is a factor, but don’t kid yourself, there’s plenty of players on this team that are not playing up to potential, so stop using that as an excuse.