Sad Panthers Fan would like - oops, Pittsburgh just scored again
I’d like to take you through my emotions during and after the Thursday night “game” at Pittsburgh that the Panthers “played”:
I could really stop there, but I won’t. They tell me I should really write “words”.
I don’t want to. And games like this are the reason why. I did not harbor any expectations that the Panthers would win in Pittsburgh. I did not even think I’d be let down by some sort of close finish.
But my bar was literally, don’t get blown out.
And ... they got blown out.
I had so many people in the lead-up to this game get all excited about the Panthers again, telling me to stop being so sad and pessimistic, how could I be when this team was looking so good? It’s because I know better. I know that however low the bar is, however meager the thing is that you want to happen, this team will disappoint you. Avoid getting humiliated on national television? LOL you greedy fan, nope! Go for it on fourth and short regularly with a QB that could literally fall forward and get it, and it’s the mathematically sound choice? HAHAHAHA, stop it, you! Surround a franchise quarterback with actual weapons and an offensive line that can protect him? NOT AT THE SAME TIME, JERK FACE, AND OFTEN NOT EITHER ONE!
The reason I am Sad Panthers Fan is because I know the other shoe is not just liable to drop. It’s liable to explode and take the whole foot with it.
It literally makes no sense why this defense has become this bad. Yes, the defense is getting older, especially up front. Yes, there are some young players in the secondary. But it’s largely a veteran-led, proven group that, even if it’s getting worse, shouldn’t have gotten THIS bad THIS quickly.
So sure, sometimes it’s player error. But sometimes, it’s coaching. And when a defense has gotten this bad this quickly, you have to think that has something to do with it.
Yes, you read that correctly. At one point in the game - early, when it was still a game - the Panthers tried a two-man rush on Ben Roethlisberger.
Eric Washington has done a fine job as a position coach (defensive line, from 2011-17). And the Panthers have always promoted from within when losing a defensive coordinator, as they have for the last two seasons now (Steve Wilks and Sean McDermott).
A lack of continuity has to hurt, sure. But the defense has fallen off in almost every important area. It’s gone from 7th in yards per game surrendered in 2018 (317.1) to 15th (357.2) and from 17th in yards per play (5.3) to 23rd (5.8). Third down percentage is more or less the same (38% last year, 40% this year) and so is rushing defense (88.1 yards allowed per game last year, 99 this year).
What isn’t the same, though, is the pass defense. Hoo boy. It’s a big reason the Panthers give up 50 more yards a game than they did a year ago, since they’re giving up nearly 30 more yards and have already given up nearly as many passing touchdowns (22) as they did ALL OF LAST SEASON (25). Did I mention that they still have to face Drew Brees? TWICE? Someone hold me.
Sacks are a huge issue. The Panthers ranked third in the league in sacks last year with 50 and have 22 through nine games this year, good for 21st. And they’re allowing opposing QBs to completely over two-thirds of their throws. Someone hold me.
I know that Cam Newton likes to play, even when games are decided one way or the other.
And it would end up being five. After allowing 10 sacks in the previous seven games combined.
This is why we can’t have nice things, folks.
But the real point here is that Newton was taking a beating all night. The game was decided in the third quarter. He should not have taken any snaps in the fourth.
WHY? WHY put your franchise quarterback - your entire franchise - at risk for no reason?
And make no mistake about it. There’s no reason good enough. I don’t care if Cam begged. I don’t care.
But let’s go back and see what the reason was:
WORKING ON SOME THINGS?! LIKE WHAT, GETTING HIM HURT?
TAKE. HIM. OUT. RON. FOR. THE. LOVE. OF. TSHIMANGA.
After the game, whatever Cam was wearing was fairly unremarkable. But he showed up at the Auburn game on Saturday wearing ... Skechers?
You don’t often see Cam make blatant fashion missteps. A Twitter follower informed me the shoe was not a Skecher shape-up, but instead a pair Balenciagas. A quick Google search tells me my initial reaction of “what are those?!” was not an unfair one. It was his worst decision since heaving the ball up for grabs in his own end zone for a pick six.