Three weeks have now quickly passed in the Carolina Panthers season and I can say that I have already experienced every single emotion a fan can possibly go through in that short of a timespan. At the conclusion of the Bengals game I genuinely had no idea what the identity of our team is but for somehow, thats done a complete 180 and I am oddly confident in the middle of this break.
To briefly recap the first three weeks. We started out the season with a ugly win against Dallas finishing with a score of 16-8. The Cowboys are not very good, and that game should not have been nearly as close as it was. It ended up coming down to the last few drives which isn’t a good sign for a team looking to make a Super Bowl push. At the time of this I thought, first game kinks, no worries, we will smooth it out. I think optimistically a lot. Our makeshift offensive line was actually solid, and this “new” accurate Cam Newton was great, but the problem on offense came from the receivers who were unable to create any separation and dropped some easy balls. The defense made the Cowboys offense irrelevant for three quarters, containing Ezekiel Elliot, and making Das Prescott beat them. So, same old Panthers I guess.
Moving into the week 2 at Atlanta. The Falcons were coming off a loss to the Super Bowl Champion Eagles in what was an atrocious game. They actually looked horrid, couldn’t function at all in the red zone. So us losing 31-24, and pretty much letting them score every time they reached the red zone wasn’t the happiest of feelings for me.
Sure, we were in the game and lost on the final drive of the game, but everything leading up to that was the most frustrating piece of football I have seen from this team in a long time. Matt Ryan carved our defense up going 23/28 for 272, had a pair of touchdowns and a pick. Kinda standard, whatever. The issue came in the run defense where we allowed Tevin Coleman –the backup running back, a good one I guess, but still a backup– to go off for 107 yards, while averaging almost 7 yards a carry. I really don’t even remember the last time our defense gave up 100 yards to a running back.
This is what we pushed me over the edge though.
I mean.. are you joking? Also, our receivers just looked bad again and I feel like I can already say DJ Moore is the best receiver on this team. Hopefully Curtis Samuel comes back soon and can bring what he brought to the preseason to the team. However for the time being, I need more of this.
Moving on to week 3 at home against the Bengals. I rate the Bengals pretty highly at the moment, in my AFC Preview I had them finishing this season at 9-7. With the state of the AFC North at the moment, they might just win that division.
So to beat these guys 31-21 is a quality win in my eyes. The only negative in my eyes was the safety position. Colin Jones spent a lot of time looking at the back of receivers jerseys. Not his fault, he’s a special teams player, so please leave him there, Ron Rivera. Lastly, Christian McCaffrey is proving everyone who thinks he can’t run between the tackles wrong. 28 carries for 184, averaging almost 7 a pop is going to win you almost every game.
“Too Small,” they say.
So, Carolina is 2-1 at the bye week and looking at ways to improve. The offensive line could use some tuning, receivers need to get focused, and safety could definitely use a major upgrade with losing Searcy to injured reserve. So we go out and give the Bills a late 2021 pick for Marshall Newhouse. Bills fans don’t seem to like him, so cool I guess. Then we turn around and sign former pro bowl safety, Eric Reid and then I proceeded to lose my mind in the most positive way possible.
Assuming he still has juice in the tank, Reid is going to bring some quality play at safety, and leadership to go along with that. I don’t expect Reid to be great coming out of the gate, he has missed a lot of time, but this is a step in the right direction not only for our secondary, but for the state of the franchise. With this being a “strictly football decision” Panthers new Owner, David Tepper, is showing that he will do what it takes to improve this football team, even if that means going against the league. Something that would have never been done during the Jerry Richardson regime.
This signing was extra special to me not only because we desperately need a safety but because it seems like I have spent an eternity explaining why Reid and Colin Kaepernick deserve a spot on a NFL roster. For my team to make that happen is amazing to me.
This move has me excited again and I think the Panthers are getting ready to take off coming out of the bye week. With Reid joining the team, and Thomas Davis returning soon, the team morale is getting ready to receive a major boost that should benefit this organization greatly.