With only four games left in the regular season many Panthers fans are wondering if Santa will come early and save our season. When I think of this season I’m reminded of Key and Peele skit (You can check the skit itself out here) where Andre is chasing after his girlfriend saying “Meegan your jacket!!” Only instead of a jacket it’s me shouting out to my beloved team “Panthers your season!!!” and while for the last four games there seemed to be a resounding “No” on whether or not we’d pull out a win the chance of making the playoffs are not exactly out of the question, not yet. The Panthers can still manage to sneak into the playoffs if they work on the following things that are holding them back, of course.
The biggest issue with the Panthers is the turnover differential in losses is -10, while the turnover differential in wins is +11. What this all boils down to is the Panthers are needing to have better ball security on offense and needing to be more aggressive on defense to create more turnovers. On offense there is plenty of big play potential with the talented likes of Christian McCaffrey , Curtis Samuel, and DJ Moore, but they can’t force the ball in there especially when the play isn’t there. The room for improvement on the offensive line is evident in the need to give Cam more time to be able to survey and look for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th options. The Panthers don’t seem to have a problem moving the ball down the field, but once in the red zone the last few weeks they have either turned the ball over or had to settle for field goals, some of which were misses. If the Panthers want to win games they need to get the ball in the end zone whenever they enter the red zone.
On the other side of the ball the defense needs to again be more aggressive. Being able to blitz more, get more quarterback pressures, sacks, and cause general disruptions to make opposing quarterbacks make bad decisions is absolutely key in the long term success of this team. As far as coverages go, Bradberry playing man coverage with Reid on deep help is effective, as evidenced in holding the Buccaneers star wide-receiver Mike Evans to only having 6 catches for 54 yards in 2 games. Donte “Action” Jackson being present on the other side gives the Panthers the speed and play making ability to make up for any missteps in man coverage.
Recently in Panther nation there has been a wide range of calling for Coach Rivera’s job, the removal of defensive line coach Brady Hoke and cornerbacks coach Jeff Imamura are proof that Ron is trying to ruthlessly right ship. Brian Urlacher has recently gone on record saying that Ron is a very aggressive play caller on defense and I am inclined to agree so this seems to be the step in the right direction.
The Panthers are in a must win situation this Sunday as they take on the Cleveland Browns if they went to keep their playoff chances alive. The next three games afterwards will be no cakewalk as they take on the dominating Saints and demoralized Falcons who will no doubt jump at the shot to play spoiler to the Panthers post season hopes. The Panthers need to tighten up and take the reigns of their own destiny. Veteran players such as Julius Peppers, Thomas Davis, Mike Adams and Captain Munnerlyn aren’t getting any younger and with Greg Olsen now gone for the rest of the season after re-injuring his foot it’s time we get our act together to give this guys a proper send off into retirement (when they decide the time is right).
Whether or not the Panthers have what it takes to make the postseason , we’ll just have to stay tuned and see but I am desperately trying to remain the eternal optimistic.
Love you. Mean it.