Historically, the Panthers are a football team who play better when the spotlight is off of them. In a smaller market like Charlotte, most NFL bigwigs ignore the former expansion team despite the talent that clearly resides in the halls and practice fields of Bank of America Stadium, instead focusing on the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots of this world.
Think back to 2006, the year following the Panthers' second NFC Championship appearance. Granted, circumstances conspired to derail the Panthers season with inconsistent play and injuries, but the team finished 8-8.
When the heat was on, the Panthers wilted.
John Fox knows how to rally a group of guys, and following a down year (7-9) in 2008, the Panthers returned to the playoffs in 2009 when the league least expected it.
Are you starting to see the pattern here?
Here we are having witnessed the Panthers' first three preseason games and already I see the typical blurbs of so-called experts emerging with the same old go-to lines.
“Matt Moore is an unproven quarterback. They have no chance.”
“There’s no one to keep defenses honest across from Steve Smith. Who are they gonna throw it to?”
“They have no stars on the defense! How can they stop anyone?”
All of this simply adds fuel to the fire of the third youngest group of players in the NFL, the youngest if you don’t count 20-year veteran and original Panther John Kasay.
Make no mistake—this team is poised and ready to go this season and prove people wrong. After all, isn’t that the single biggest motivating factor in us as human beings?
When someone tells you what you can’t do, aren’t you all the more determined to make it happen?
The talking heads will continue to doubt one of the most talented teams in the NFL, but they are making a crucial error.
They are mistaking youth for a lack of talent.
And that factor alone may be the downfall of many an opponent that this expansion team from Charlotte faces this 2010 season.
Psst, don’t tell anyone, but the Carolina Panthers find themselves in the perfect position to make a run at the playoffs.
And that may be the best kept secret in pro football.