By: Devin Fussa
We had so much hope. Our beloved Carolina Panthers football team was destined for great things this year. After reaching last year’s Super Bowl, there were high expectations for 2016. The hope we Carolinians had was soon stolen from us, as the Panthers are suddenly 1-5 on the season. They’ve lost four games in a row, having only won in week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers. A string of dismal performances was capped by their most recent loss, in which they were bested by the New Orleans Saints on a game winning field goal. The Panthers are responsible for the happiness of two whole states, and they still can’t find enough reason to win?
The Panthers have had massive issues on the defensive side the ball, particularly with their pass defense. During the offseason, the Panthers allowed Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman to leave for the Washington Redskins. They instead opted to sign three rookie cornerbacks during the NFL draft. In retrospect, letting go of their star cornerback was a mistake. Norman has thrived in Washington, with an interception and 26 tackles over the first 6 games. The Panthers, on the other hand, have allowed the two highest passing yardage totals in team history within the last 3 weeks. “It was a little bit of a roll of the dice, I guess.” said head coach Ron Rivera of letting Norman go. I highly advise Rivera avoid Vegas for a while; he seems down on his luck.
One of Carolina’s lowest moments of the year came from playing the Atlanta Falcons in week 5, a game in which Atlanta receiver Julio Jones recorded 300 yards. Jones was able to move the ball the length of the field 3 times in the span of one game. The cornerback responsible for covering Jones most of the game, Bené Benwikere, was subsequently cut after his tragic failure. That may seem harsh, but such is the frustration within the Panther’s organization. With a horrendous start to the new year, it could be argued that their season is already lost.
Along with the Panthers’ defense, however, is the matter of their offense. After Cam Newton’s MVP season back in 2015, this year has been quite a struggle. He currently holds claim to the 25th lowest passer rating among all 32 quarterbacks, according the NFL’s official website. Their entire offense has been lackluster, ranking 4th in yards per game, but still being unable to score enough to win games. And after the return of their top receiver Kelvin Benjamin from an ACL injury, Carolina has actually looked worse on offense. Benjamin recently stated, “The Panthers are 1-5. They have a new identity.” Let’s hope the Panthers don’t take a liking to their new identity. Maybe this season is simply an elaborate Halloween costume, scaring all the fans until the end of October? Probably not.
After the remarkable success of last year’s team, many Panthers fans were expecting 2016 to bear fruit to a successful season. The Panthers are now sitting at the bottom of the NFC South, below the 2-3 Saints. For a team predicted to compete heavily this year, the results have been highly disappointing for Carolina fans. We can only hope the Panthers turn their season around soon, lest we want a forgettable year with regards to our NFL fortunes. As of now, our dear Panthers have been reduced to mere kittens.