Carolina Panthers vs. Buffalo Bills: Takeaways from the Panthers' 24-23 Loss
In yet another mountain of ineptitude, the Carolina Panthers found themselves victims of poor play and dumbfounding coaching decisions. Now the owners of yet another 0-2 start, the fanbase has little reason for hope and many reasons for dismay.
How does a head coach not learn from his mistakes? How can a player as gifted as Cam Newton be throttled so early in his career? How can a team make losing such an art form?
Let's break down yet another Carolina failure.
Mike Shula Is Not a Very Good Offensive Coordinator
Despite the hopes and dreams of Panthers fans, Mike Shula appears to have learned little from his time away from being a play-caller. Sadly, coaching greatness doesn't seem to be a trait that can be passed from father to son.
In moves that absolutely defy logic, Shula flipped the deep-pass switch and had Cam Newton throwing bombs to anyone that could run a fly route. Seems a little criticism goes a long way with Shula. Sadly, criticism about losing doesn't seem to affect this coaching staff at all.
Ron Rivera Just Doesn't Learn from His Mistakes
The slide above is to remind us of the last time Ron Rivera had a 4th-and-1 situation in which, if converted, the Panthers could simply kneel out the clock and take home a win. That last time was in 2012 while playing the Atlanta Falcons.
In Week 2 of this season, Rivera found himself again with the 4th-and-1 situation and again took the conservative route. Up three, the Panthers opted to kick a field goal and go up six on the Buffalo Bills. While the Panthers did convert the field goal, once again they lost on a blown coverage.
Albert Einstein once said, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
I think that sums this situation up nicely.
Byron Bell Is Not an NFL-Level Right Tackle
Sometimes in life you just reach a ceiling on what you are capable of as a individual. Sadly, Byron Bell reached that level before he became a talented NFL-ready right tackle.
Matching up often against the Bills' Mario Williams, Bell allowed pressure after pressure and several sacks. He provided little more than a minor hinderance to whatever Bills defender lined up in front of him. I can't imagine him being on an NFL roster next season—he was that bad.
I had hopes he would develop into a lunch-pail type of tackle and be a good serviceable option at the position. Sadly, for whatever reason, Bell appears to have regressed since his rookie season.
The Current Panthers Coaching Staff Has Neutered Cam Newton
For the life of me I don't know how Mike Shula thinks anything he saw with Cam Newton yesterday is a good thing. Newton appears uncomfortable constantly. He has very little protection. Things like footwork and progressions are failing him constantly. It's honestly sad to see.
In the span of a few months of offseason, the Panthers staff and Newton himself have managed to undo everything they did right to end last season.
To further confound fans, the one time Newton did look sharp was during a quasi-no-huddle near the end of the first half. One would think that if something worked, the Panthers would continue to do it, but this was not the case. Shula decided to go back to the ever-so-ineffective play-calling of the first quarter, because that obviously worked so well.
Josh Norman Does Not Listen Very Well
Josh Norman was basically told what was about to happen on the Bills' game-winning pass by fellow Panthers cornerback D.J. Moore. Norman either didn't hear or didn't believe Moore, as he ignored the signals and blew his coverage.
Watching the game, anyone with eyes could see Moore pointing out the switch needed when the Bills wide receivers crossed. Moore frantically pointed this out to Norman. Norman didn't make the switch and EJ Manuel threw an easy pass to a wide open Stevie Johnson.
Players can't make mistakes like that. Coaches have to coach players to not make mistakes like that. Maybe Norman can think about switches instead of retweeting Panthers fans who tell him he should start on Twitter.
The Panthers Secondary Is Officially a Trainwreck
Numerous reports and rumors are coming out today from sources all around the Panthers that Charles Godfrey could be headed to injured reserve. Godfrey was the lone returning Panther worth mentioning at the safety position and generally the leader of the secondary as a whole. With him likely gone, the Panthers will turn to free agents like Quintin Mikell, Mike Mitchell and Colin Jones.
Josh Thomas also suffered an injury while starting at cornerback. Thus, the Panthers will trot out what is the equivalent to a dumpster fire in the secondary against a very angry New York Giants squad that will likely be desperate for a win. If you have Eli Manning, Victor Cruz or Hakeem Nicks on your fantasy squad, you will be wanting to start them.
The Blame Will Start Going Up Soon
Jerry Richardson's Panthers have not had a winning record at any time during a football season since somewhere around 2009. Let that sink in for a moment. Not only have they lost, they have been losers the whole season.
Furthermore, the Panthers appear to be on the cusp of yet another lame-duck coaching situation this season—the second of such in the last for years.
When everyone has been fired, (see: John Fox, Marty Hurney, assistant coaches, likely Rivera and his staff at season's end if this is the best the Panthers have) who is left to blame? How many CEO's could stay at the top of their businesses when the product is a complete and utter failure?
Seems to me the energy is being sucked out of the Panthers fanbase faster then PSL's sucked money out of the wallet to go see a losing team.
Wikipedia states the following:
The 2014 NFL Draft will be the 79th annual meeting of National Football League (NFL) franchises to select newly eligible football players. The draft, officially called the "NFL Players Selection Meeting", will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on May 8–10, 2014. The draft's traditional timeframe in late April will not be available in 2014 due to a scheduling conflict at Radio City Music Hall, and the NFL plans to continue holding the draft in May in future years as part of a permanent offseason calendar change.
Week two and Panther fans might have the 2014 draft to look forward to again.