After the horrific and very embarrassing performance in the playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals to end the 2008 season, I expected the Carolina Panthers players and coaches to dwell and brood all offseason and then be motivated and rejuvenated to prove that the playoff debacle was a fluke.
The Panthers will be angry at the world with a chip on their shoulder, be anxious to prove themselves, and be ready to kick some butt this preseason. Jake Delhomme will want to atone for his six-interception performance in the playoff disaster.
That didn't happen. This is the same old team that lost it's intensity, concentration, competency, and will to win during the last few games of the 2008 campaign.
This defense no longer contains the run. This offense shows no chemistry and timing. This team no longer walks and approaches a game with swagger and confidence.
Is there something internally wrong with the Carolina Panthers? Is there a lack of leadership?
The Carolina Panthers disappointed me this preseason not because of the 0-4 record, but the obvious lack of football fundamentals, particularly the poor tackling and lack of offense production from the first team offense.
The first team offense has managed to score just one touchdown during the preseason. The offense has struggled throughout the four games of the preseason, scoring 57 points, an average of just over 14 points a game.
Yes, having WR Steve Smith and LB Jon Beason out for most of preseason play did not help, but I don’t view the Panthers as a two-man team either.
Carolina’s defense is below-average. The defense allowed 89 points in the four games, an average of just over 22 points a contest.
The poor play of two of Carolina’s top defenders, DE Julius Peppers and CB Chris Gamble, has been very disappointing. Why spend one millions dollars per game to pay Peppers to be a spectator on the field?
Peppers will go through the 2009 season trying to figure out if he wants to sign with Dallas, New England, or another team in 2010. The fans and local media will be hard on Julius, but he will cry all the way to the bank.
Gamble was also handed a huge contract in the off-season.
Therefore, the relevant question going into the regular season is can the Panthers suddenly turn the switch on and play well? Carolina should play better than they did in preseason, but will they play well enough to win?
At the start of preseason, looking at the Panthers’ tough schedule and lack of depth at key positions, I thought Carolina looked like an 8-8 team. I know we can’t always tell by preseason, but now they appear to be a 7-9 or 6-10 squad.
Yes, some bad habits practiced during preseason lags into the regular season.
I predict that Carolina will start slow but finish strong during this 2009 season, with a final mediocre or average record around 8-8.
Quote of the Day:
If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do all the rest have to drown too?