06 December, 2008


In two more afternoons, we as PantherFanz, a legion of fans of the Carolina Panthers who are within the broader scope of fans known as Panther Nation, will begin a party of whose magnitude hasn’t been seen since, well, since last year.

But the game is so, so much bigger than that.

I don’t have to tell you what’s at stake. You already know the ramifications of a loss or win. A loss will make a division win tough, and lead to perhaps a guaranteed #5 or #6 seed, and the playoffs on the road. This in of itself isn’t necessarily bad. How many home playoff games did the GEEEEEEEEMen win last year? I hope that’s point taken. But how good would that be to WIN a huge, monster, titanic, (fill in your favorite superfluous adjective), game here in our own stadium? To leave the game in the frosty December air joyous and rapacious after a decisive victory over one of our fiercest rivals? I don’t have to tell you about that, either.

So, for the benefit of those of you who don’t scour the sports websites and listen to the endless blather of the so-called experts who analyze and over-analyze and go over every stat, trend, and matchup to produce a forecast, and blow even more effervescent fragrance towards and into Chucky Gruden’s anal orfice, I’m going to give you MY personal keys to the game.


Here it comes.

This is really, really important.

In order for us to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we will have to have more points on our side of the scoreboard than they do.

Simple as that.

So, how do we get there? You’ve probably heard ad-nauseum how potent the Tampa D is. Yah, Yah, Yah. So potent they had to scramble at the end of the game with the powerful Kansas City Chefs to eke out a victory. So potent they opened the game against the WINLESS Detroit Lie-uns by allowing the Leos 17 unanswered points. So potent they allowed the rudderless Cowbabies to run roughshod all over them. They CAN be penetrated, but Davidson is going to have to be smart about it. On offense, we will have to give the run game a chance. For the first time this season, our O line is completely healthy, and most importantly, are playing the best ball of the season. If we can maintain at least a 3.5 yards per carry, there’s no reason to get cute. Wouldn’t be bad to throw some to the running backs as well. I would still have Jake chuck a few downfield to keep the defense honest, because I do think Tampa’s D will emphasize stopping the run initially. Should the running attack have some success, then getting the ball to Smitty and Moose will be of the utmost importance. Smith has shown time and time again that he will make the most difficult of catches, and he’ll show it again. There is NO ONE in the Tampa secondary that can cover him. It would also be worth it to involve Smith in end-arounds and other creative plays. It’s also of the utmost importance that the line protect Jake long enough that he can find the open receiver. If he’s constantly pressured, it will be a long and miserable night for us in the stands. But I’m confident our game plan will yield enough points against this particular team, in the now comfortable confines of our home stadium.

Now, this is a really important part. On defense, we have GOT to make Garcia feel VERY uncomfortable. They will try to run, but I have a feeling that we’ll do a better job on the freshly-re-minted Cadillac Williams and Warrick Been-Dunn Before. Garcia will be rolling out on us a great deal, and throwing on the move. He’s made a CAREER doing that. So did Michael Vick, to a large degree, until we opened up a can of Thomas Davis on him. I would have Turkey-Vac get TD to spy him on virtually every play. If he can be kept in third-and-long situations, our secondary should be able to keep the plays in front of them. There’s no one in Tampa’s receiving corps that scares me or anyone else’s defense. As our defensive strength lies in our linebackers, I would have them involved in aggressive blitz packages, until the front four could generate enough pressure on their own, which I kinda doubt they’ll be able to do, given the past performances. Perhaps an interesting formation with either one or two linebackers in coverage, with Davis the designated rusher would frustrate Garcia enough to force him to make mistakes with the ball! Let me make this clear. We MUST stop Garcia from doing what he wants to do. That’s it. No other offensive player can hurt our defense like he can. We stop Garcia, and the game is ours. All of Turkey Vac’s defensive game plans should be geared to this end. The wild card for us defensively will be Julius Peppers, and maddeningly enough for all of us who live and die with the Panthers, it ALWAYS is, from week to week. If he DOMINATES like he is capable of doing, and not shrinking as he’s done in the past, the linebackers have less to do up front, and can concentrate on the longer plays. If Peppers makes the kind of plays he does when he’s on, we win. I’m not a big football whiz as it comes to “X’s and O’s”, but I do love the game and pay attention to it’s nuances on every level. Make no mistake, if we are to win this game it will be won by the play of our defense. To a man, they are disgusted with their play of late and know that it’s go time NOW. The vibe in the locker room today has been off the chain. They’re ready to go.


There’s one more vital, and I do mean VITAL ingredient to this win, should it come to pass.

And this is going to come from us, and only us, the Panther fans, not JUST Panther FANZ.

How many Bucs fans will be in the stands on Monday night? Do you think it will be anything like the fans the Cowpatties, Packers and Squeelers bring? If there will be 2000 Bucs jerseys in the BOFA, I would be shocked. The job of US, the fans of Panther Nation, will be to MAKE NOISE LIKE OUR LIVES WERE IN DANGER!!! I cannot stress this enough! Every time that Tampa gets the ball we should be screaming like Chucky was fixin’ to perform a cruel surgery on you without anesthesia. The offensive game plan they want to execute REQUIRES key elements be able to listen to calls Garcia makes on the line of scrimmage. And we, Panther Nation, have the capability of disrupting that with a punishing attack of decibels not seen since the 1997 playoff against the Cowbabies. Last year’s edition would have never seen that kind of vocal support from me, because the overall effort was not deserving of that. Seeing Travelle Wharton gun down the field on Stewarts’ big run was the kind of effort I thrive on as a fan. Individual players, yes, even Pep, have turned in that kind of performance this year, and I’m planning on rewarding them with the passionate vocalization they are needing for that extra “ummph” as one might call it, to stretch just that little bit more to knock the ball’s trajectory off as to create an incompletion, or even better, an interception or blocked field goal, extra point, or fumble. To piledrive an opponent back just a bit more to clear a path to a debilitating sack of Garcia. Yes, they are getting that vociferous vocal support from me, from Kathie, from everyone in my section. I admonish the rest of you to do the same. Even if we should find ourselves behind, we should continue to blast the Tampa offense with everything we have. The game does depend on it, in THIS particular setting.

And on offense? Be quiet and let them work. Cheer a competion, a nice pancake block by Hoov or Otah or Moose or any fired up Panther. Scream for a nice run or touchdown, but otherwise KEEP YOUR PIE HOLE PLUGGED when we have the ball and for GOD’S SAKE DON’T DO THE WAVE WHEN WE’RE ON OFFENSE!!!

So there you go Panther fans and FANZ alike. This is my prescription for a Panther victory this Monday night. We do this, and it won’t matter what the Duckies or Saints or FredSkins or Bears or what anyone does. Our playoff destiny will be firmly in the paws of the Panthers, as we would have it be.
There’s no questioning our party capabilities, because all of that will be manifest with all of the perfunctory aplomb by Head Coach Dano, James, Chuck, Patrick, Chris, PeaDad, BLu, etc. and all of you core PantherFanz that make this thing go. Let’s see this translated to the game and keep the intensity going for the Broncoid’s visit next week in another CRITICAL game, 'cause you know,


I was BORN a Panthers Fan......


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1 comment:

Hyman said...

Agreed, my good friend. That pisses me off to this day when "fans" do the wave when the offense is at work. We've got a few more years, but the true Panther fan base is growing each year. A little more general football knowledge and the generation that has only ever known the Panthers gets a bit older and BOA stadium will be a tough place to play. Buster