Written by Clark Gerber, a contributor for WRAL Sports.
The Panthers have reached their lowest point once again.
The most unpleasant aspect of Sunday’s defeat to Dallas by a score of 33-10 is that it wasn’t even discouraging. The bar has been set so low for this team that a 23-point loss at home (which is uncommon in the NFL) is considered normal.
Do not be mistaken, this is the lowest point the Carolina Panthers have ever experienced.
They have achieved a record of 1-9, resulting in their sixth consecutive losing season. This is the longest streak in the team’s history and it coincides with David Tepper’s tenure as owner.
There is increasing proof that Tepper’s abilities as an NFL team owner may be subpar, which is the most devastating news for a fanbase. The Washington Commanders can attest to this.
During the holiday season, it is important to acknowledge and appreciate the things we are grateful for. Surprisingly, there are a few items on this list.
Without any delay, I now present (not in any specific sequence) seven things that the Carolina Panthers and their supporters should express gratitude for this week.
The community is benefiting from the team’s ongoing efforts.
I understand that this may elicit a negative reaction from some individuals, and I acknowledge that it is tempting to be skeptical. However, this is definitely an achievement to take pride in.
The Panthers have a long-standing tradition of star athletes contributing to the community, which continues even during their current challenges on the field.
Recently, Bradley Bozeman, the primary center for the team, organized a philanthropic gathering. The event provided meals for numerous families in the community and also offered them the opportunity to play golf.
It is heartwarming to see your support for individuals who prioritize doing good. This should not be overlooked.
Ejiro Evero continues to lead the defense with strong effort.
Regarding the on-field events, one must truly commend defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero for his performance this season.
The Panther’s defense has suffered greatly from injuries throughout the year, particularly in their secondary. However, Evero has managed to keep them motivated and playing with determination.
An interesting statistic – Carolina is ranked 31st in points given up per game (27.5), but 6th in yards allowed per game (308.6).
This indicates that this particular unit has been placed in unfavorable positions due to the team’s struggling offense, and has not been successful in creating enough turnovers to overcome the situation.
If they are able to begin causing turnovers and avoid costly penalties that have been a problem for them lately, the Panther defense may see significant improvement in the remaining games.
There has been a modification to the schedule for Week 13.
The Panthers’ away game against the Buccaneers next week will now begin at 4pm instead of 1pm, in case you were not aware.
Why is that significant?
If the game takes a turn for the worse, viewers can simply switch to watching the 49ers vs. Eagles instead.
At 1pm, there is no other choice available at that level. It’s a successful schedule, woohoo!
The small details are important.
I believe I have previously stated this, but I will reiterate it — can you envision the offense without Adam Thielen?
This season, the 33-year-old has 76 receptions for 726 yards, which is more than three times the amount of any other Panthers receiver in those specific categories.
He is currently on track to break the record for most receptions in a single season set by Christian McCaffrey for the franchise.
Carolina never could have imagined such impressive output when they acquired Thielen as a free agent.
He has been the most outstanding player on the team’s offense by far.
Is the running game potentially making a comeback?
Throughout their history, the Panthers have consistently performed well when their running game has been effective.
Last year’s end-of-season push was certainly evident. And there are indications that it may occur once more this year.
In the first half of Sunday’s game, head coach Frank Reich accurately stated that Carolina had control of the line of scrimmage and dominated over Dallas.
Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders had a collective rushing total of 107 yards with an average of over 5 yards per carry against a top defensive team. Their performance only declined when the game became one-sided.
This is a formula that the team can definitely use, particularly since Bryce Young is having trouble finding his rhythm.
Peyton Manning and Steve Smith both had a difficult start to their careers.
Regarding Bryce Young, he recently had his lowest number of completions and passing yards in a season, and he also threw his third interception returned for a touchdown in three consecutive weeks.
The current situation is not favorable, making it fortunate for the Panthers to have Peyton Manning as a source of optimism.
If a new quarterback has a hard time, supporters are fast to remind you that Manning’s initial performance was also poor. He threw 28 interceptions, had a 71.2 passer rating, and only won 3 out of 13 games. However, he still became successful in the end.
Although a rookie’s initial performance may not accurately predict their entire career trajectory, it would be beneficial to witness Young’s development in the upcoming games.
While Young will not have as many interceptions as Manning, he will also not have as many touchdowns. Manning had 26 in his rookie season, while Young has only achieved 9 so far, averaging less than one per game.
As we engage in the rookie hope game, let’s present a few anonymous resumes for consideration…
Player A’s stats: 10 receptions, 154 receiving yards, no touchdowns, and 8 fumbles.
Player B had 24 catches for a total of 226 yards, with no touchdowns and no fumbles.
Steve Smith Sr. had a whopping 8 fumbles during his entire rookie season. In comparison, Jonathan Mingo has only played in 10 games this year.
Did I just commit blasphemy by comparing Hall of Famer Steve Smith to Jonathan Mingo? Probably. But it made you feel a little better about Mingo’s disappointing rookie season, didn’t it?
There are winnable matches in our future. Yes, it’s true!
I may seem irrational for stating this, but the Panthers’ schedule included a game against the Dallas Cowboys, which they had no chance of winning.
Actually, many of these games are quite winnable. Trust me!
This week, they will be playing against Tennessee, a team that has lost three consecutive games and has only scored more than 16 points in three games this season. The upcoming game is expected to be a close one.
Then it’s three straight divisional opponents — at Tampa Bay, at New Orleans, home Atlanta. I wouldn’t be shocked if all three of those teams finished below .500 this season. The Panthers will be underdogs, but could absolutely beat any other NFC South team.
During Week 16, Green Bay will visit Carolina. The team is not performing well.
In Jacksonville, it has been demonstrated over time that they are capable of losing to any opponent at any given moment.
Lastly, returning to Tampa to end the year. It is not an exceptionally difficult lineup of opponents.
The Panthers have no motivation to give up since they do not possess their first round draft pick. It is likely that they will put up a strong fight to avoid the humiliation of handing the first overall pick to Chicago.
This is the lowest point, but it also indicates that the only way to go from here is up!
Despite the current difficulties, there are still reasons to remain hopeful. This is something we should always appreciate.