Congratulations to all Panthers fans as for the first time all season the team will not lose today. It is not because we play the Bills, or because we added someone or 28, but the Panthers will not be 0-6 after today because Week 6 is the Panthers’ bye week.
They will not win today and this will not improve the Panthers 31st-ranked offense, but it is a day that Panthers fans will not need to worry about a costly turnover or a half dozen dropped balls occurring to cost them the game.
It has been a rough season as all Panthers fans obviously know. They have showcased a talented defense and an offense that could not put up points in a Saturday walk-through. It’s hard as the Panthers main weakness was supposed to be the defense.
The defense had lost its greatest player, arguably one of the best in the history of the franchise, in Julius Peppers and management axed every other player over the age of 30 (except Tyler Brayton) or who made more than $2 million. Instead of faltering, the young cats have stepped up. Charles Godfrey is quickly becoming one of the top safeties in the NFL, and leads the league in interceptions. James Anderson is a tackling machine, fumble producer and has become the second heart of the defense.
The biggest surprise of the defense has been the collective effort of the line. They are not collecting sacks on a regular basis and their youth shows at times, but the play of the Johnson boys (Charles and Ed) and Derek Landri has been a bright spot in this gloomy season. Despite what the numbers say, the line has done a good job of stopping the run and is a big part of the league’s 12th-ranked defense.
Unfortunately, the reason why the Panthers are 0-5 is because of their offense. The line is not what it was last season. This could be due to Jeff Otah not being around, so two youngsters are on the same side. It also probably does not help that there is a minimum of eight defenders in the box at all times. This is definitely a reason why the great duo known as Double Trouble has yet to produce a 100-yard rusher. In fact, Jonathan Stewart just eclipsed 100 yards for the season last week.
In the end, all eyes turn towards the passing game. This is clearly the worst passing game in the league and for good reason. Matt Moore was benched two games into the season and a rookie is trying to lead the offense. Also, management failed to bring in veteran receivers so Steve Smith, now injured, is stuck with rookie receivers and outcasts. They constantly show their inexperience and have made fans wonder if maybe it would be better to start Godfrey and Sherrod Martin at receiver as they at least catch some of the balls thrown at them.
At the end of the day, I hope the Panthers have done some soul searching. The final memory I want to have before the looming lockout is not one of the Panthers defense playing its heart out and the offense looking like it’s lost in the woods without a GPS. In the meantime, I’m going to think about what A.J. Green will look like in a Panthers uniform next year.