With a few adjustments, the Panthers will be going in the right direction
The Carolina Panthers' season did not get started off the right foot. Many people felt the Panthers were outplayed and overmatched by an inferior team.
Honestly, that was not the case as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a talented roster in their own right, but compared to Carolina, they should not have been as competitive in Week 1.
With that week come and gone; it's time to get ready for the New Orleans Saints in Week 2.
First, we should not get too concerned over the loss in the season opener. If it's any consolation, the Packers and Saints lost their first games. The same can be said for the defending champions New York Giants. The season is not over and one game will not dictate success or future of any team.
In 2005, the Panthers dropped their opener to the Saints and were 1-2 to start the season. They recovered and earned a playoff berth.
Four years prior to that, they opened with a win against the Minnesota Vikings and there was a lot of optimism after the game. The fanbase and organization felt good about the team the rest of the way, but Carolina lost 15 consecutive games.
Last season, Tampa Bay started off strong and then lost 10 games in a row to finish the year.
Bottom line, anything can happen and one game does not set the tone for how a season will be played out.
That being said, how can the Panthers bounce back and defeat the Saints this weekend?
The good news is the Panthers have some great film to study after the Saints' loss to the Washington Redskins. Many people have to wonder how weak the New Orleans defense is after allowing rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III to throw for more than 300 yards and help hang 40 points on a team that won eight straight at home heading into the game.
The defense may stand a better a chance with Jon Beason and Thomas Davis back on the team. There were some good things to see from the defensive line as Dwan Edwards and Greg Hardy got some pressure.
Each week and each team's defensive scheme is different, but it should be interesting to see if Carolina can stymie the high-powered Saints offense. Plus, the Panthers are still looking for retribution after the blowout loss at the Superdome in the final game of last season.
The offensive line needs to get its act together. While rookie Amini Silatolu was dominated by Gerald McCoy, the offensive line as a whole was collectively awful. There were moments where veteran Jordan Gross was unable to hold or pick up his block, allowing all kinds of heavy pressure on Cam Newton.
If the line resolves its issues heading into this weekend's game, the Panthers' chances of winning will increase drastically.
Speaking of Cam Newton, there is no need to worry about a regression of any kind. He had more than 300 yards passing and despite two interceptions, he seemed to be on target during the game.
After the opening week loss, how do you feel about the Panthers the rest of the way
However, he needs to be protected and have time to throw. One thing that was interesting in the Tampa Bay game was his ability to pass the ball around. Steve Smith had more than 100 yards receiving, and Brandon LaFell and Louis Murphy were able to connect for more than 60 yards apiece. The passing game is still very much alive, but it can only be as strong as the rushing game will allow.
Jonathan Stewart's injury was noticeable. While DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert are both quality backs, they need to do a better job getting the ground game moving.
Rushing for 10 yards as a team is ridiculous, especially given the amount of talent in the backfield. There are too many weapons, varying styles and the ability to break out the big run for the Carolina ground game to be so ineffective. Hopefully, this lackluster performance will be limited to just the one game and will never again rear its ugly head.
The season is very young and nothing is set in stone right now. The Panthers are only one game back in their division, but they have the means to compete with anyone this year. They need to correct what went wrong and play at the level they expected. The road ahead will not be easy, but the path to the Super Bowl is seldom an easy journey.