Ever since the Carolina Panthers stormed onto the pro football scene in 1995, fans in Charlotte have been snapping up Carolina Panthers tickets like few other places. They made an improbable playoff run in only their second year of existence, getting all the way to the NFC Championship game in 1996. Since then, the Panthers have gotten even farther into the postseason, as they advanced to the Super Bowl in 2003.
Since then, the team has been one of the more confounding in the NFL. They are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, are a tough, physical team that can run the ball and stop the run on defense, and they’re extremely well-coached. The Panthers never seem to get out-planned, but it helps when you can own the trenches on both sides of the ball.
However, the Panthers have a tendency to annoy those who think they could easily be one of the great teams in recent seasons. As of this writing, the Panthers are sitting in third place in their division with a 4-4 record. This is a team that many saw in the Super Bowl, and some even saw them walking off with the Lombardi Trophy.
So what’s happening in Carolina? Why are the Panthers perhaps the most disappointing 4-4 team in the league?
Carolina seems to commit fatal errors at the worst possible time. In a recent loss to Cincinnati, QB Jake Delhomme threw an inexplicable interception in the final minute when all the Panthers needed to do was kick a field goal to stay alive. The Panthers had that game in hand, but managed to lose.
Against the Cowboys, dropped or fumbled kick returns were bouncing all over the field. Fans were wondering if they had used Carolina Panthers tickets for an NFL or a high school game, given the dreadful level of play. The Panthers had the Cowboys on the ropes, but were utterly dominated after the first quarter, and turnovers swung the game.
As shocking as it was to see, given the level of coaching the Panthers usually get from John Fox, the Panthers have basically wilted at the ends of their past few games. You’d think the Panthers would be the ones outlasting their opponents, as this is a team that’s drilled to be physical and to win the battle in the trenches.
However, anyone who saw Dallas run all over the Panthers saw a defense that was completely spent by the time the game got into the fourth quarter. What made it all the more shocking was that this was a big, big game for the Panthers after their bitter loss last week, it was on national television and the Panthers needed to keep pace in the division. Oh yeah – it was also at home.
Luckily for the Panthers, they have a few things going for them. They have the bye coming up, and it looks like they could use it to both rest and to get themselves back into game shape. Looking at the track record of the team, Fox will probably get that done.
The Panthers are also talented, and if Fox can get them to stop making enormous mistakes at the worst times, they’ll keep 14 points of the board against them. That would obviously make a big difference.
The Panthers are also chasing two teams who can be caught. The Saints are the NFL’s best story so far this year, but you get the feeling that they’re going to come back to Earth. The Falcons are good, but until Michael Vick keeps rolling for the long-term, you have to consider Atlanta erratic. The Panthers aren’t out of the division race yet.
Overall, fans should hold onto their Carolina Panthers tickets, as the team can still turn it around, even as bad as it’s been in the past couple of weeks.
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