11 January, 2009


January 11th, 2009

It’s a word that perfectly describes the aftermath of the VERY WORST home loss in franchise history.

A loss that invalidates a sparkling 12-4 record.

That invalidates a breakout season for not only DeAngelo Williams, but Jeff Otah, Jonathan Stewart, and Charles Godfrey.

That invalidates a record-setting rushing attack.

That invalidates arguably the most successful recovery from Tommy John Surgery.

That invalidates a stellar season from Steve Smith, and a triumphant return by Mushin Muhammad.

That invalidates a glowing post-season record for the team under John Fox and Jake Delhomme

That invalidates a season’s worth of great expectations and joyous Sundays, with one INCREDIBLE Monday.

And in a deeply disappointing and cruel twist-

It VALIDATES the increasing criticism that’s heaped toward Jake Delhomme and John Fox.

This is a rant I never believed I'd write, and now I'm disgusted in writing it.

Let’s be honest here. I’d heap a steaming pile of the blame towards Foxy and his coaching staff for a shoddy and poorly – thought out game plan. Why, but why, was the uber-powerful rushing attack so potent in the opening drive so quickly abandoned in favour of a passing game that OBVIOUSLY wasn’t working? Standing in my section, I could not believe what I was watching in the first half. Even down by 13 points in the second quarter did not constitute an emergency, especially when SteWilliams is capable of scoring from any area on the field! It’s as if the entire team, from executive to coach to player to ball boy drank DEEPLY of the Kool-Aid the media had mixed up in praising the Carolina Panthers, and all that was necessary was to show up. It’s so very deflating and discouraging to see a coaching staff as respected and regarded as this one fail so miserably at the very worst time.






Just as inexplicable is the BEYOND WRETCHED performance of Delhomme. It’s possible we could have survived two turnovers. Even three might have been overcome with even an average offensive performance. BUT SIX!!?? This performance, ironically enough, on his birthday, was the single worst game of his career, without a shred of doubt. Practically all Jake’s throws were off, or forced into coverage when secondary receivers were wide open. The line gave him plenty of time, and was not influencing the poor throws. No matter what happens in the next season or so, this game will be an enduring ugly stain on Delhomme’s legacy, and one that will surely make the quarterback position one to be re-evaluated in the months to come, despite the convicted verbage coming from Fox following this abortion of a game. But ahh, you know this is an upcoming rant in the agonizing months preceeding the NFL Draft.

Of course, we know the defense also shares a nice load of blame. I had felt this last year, and even this year’s much improved performance from one Julius Peppers didn’t completely bury this notion I had.

Trade Peppers.


He hasn’t made NEAR enough of the game-changing plays that defined his play seasons ago. He’s living off legacy and reputation now, in my opinion, and in the NFL, legacy and reputation are short-lived if performance does not continuously back it up. Peppers just hasn’t lived up to those hallmarks. The remainder of the defense, short of the linebackers and safeties, have also fallen far short of what a “John Fox” defense is supposed to be. The line and cornerbacks have largely underperformed in the second half of the season, and when it was VITAL to stop the Cardy-nole attack, they just got out-physicalled by the Arid-Zona offense. Unacceptable. This unit not only needs an infusion of personnel, but a new coordinator. Trading Peppers, if possible with the advent of his free agency, would get us a first-round draft choice, at the very least, to begin this infusion. And that, of course, will be added to the offseason rant I’m soon to write!

Adding to the belligerent swirl of malevolent karma that suddenly appeared last night was the unprecedented boot Rhys Lloyd made out of bounds early. Somehow, when I saw that, I sadly realized that we were not winning this game. I guess when those bad winds blow, they distress all phases of the team.


One thing that even the most wretched performances could NEVER invalidate is the supreme, superlative party that was thrown yesterday in the lot. This was the single greatest tailgate party PantherFanZ ever had, and I knew Marc was grinnin’ ear to ear in his heavenly home knowing that we’d carry the party he adored to this level. I want to thank Dano and James and every single person that’s contributed to spirt of fellowship, food and fun that’s been the highlight of the year to me. It’s been a welcome respite from the maelstrom of ordinary life, and I can’t assign enough value to that. The food, the band, even the well-behaved Cardy-Nole fans were stellar. And oh, how good it was to see our Canadian contingent represented by Peter and Doug, who by the way, got to witness some pretty interesting behaviour in Hartigan’s following the game. In seven more months, we get to plan this all over again, and we get a hint of what it might be when the schedules come out this spring. As I’ve always said, other than the noise we make in supporting the team, we don’t control what the Panthers do. What we DO control, is the party, and it has never, ever, disappointed, regardless if it was a few boxes of chicken and tunes coming from the Party Prowler, to whole pigs and pork shoulders and The Contagious Blues Band AND Red Bull with an OPEN BAR! Even ten interceptions couldn’t ruin our fun. It’s the one thing that’s safe from the teams’ sudden vomiting of ineptitude.

And to close this season’s final rant as it concerns the Panthers, I follow the metaphor that I’d subconsciously dedicated to Marc. One of the saddest things I’d ever seen on screen was in the third Star Trek movie. Faced with the prospect of death for his crew, Captain Kirk made the only choice he could make- He blew up the beloved, iconic Starship Enterprise to save them. As the ship shuddered from explosions, as a fan of the series, I was incredulous with disbelief as I saw the flaming hulk of the ship stream across the atmoshphere of the planet the crew was now marooned on. In a similar sense, I watched last night’s regurgitation of everything that could be vile upon the field with an equal amount of sadness and disbelief. Only Star Trek is a fictitious serial. They rebuilt the Enterprise in the following episode, anyway. What happened at the stadium, of course, was real. It happened. Only Foxy blew up Starship Panther ’08 two games short of the final destination because of ineptitude, and not out of necessity. The good news is that THIS ship can also be rebuilt, but the sting of this defeat, with the best offense ever fielded by the Panthers, and one of the best chances since ’03 to get to the Super Bowl, will be indelibly etched in that part of the hearts of the fans where sadness is stored for a very, very, long time.

I’m not soon to forget it.

And so I say “farewell” to the ’08 season. Invalidated by this loss. And still every bit,

A PantherFan.

Gotta Comment?
E-mail Me, The Cedar Street Seer


No comments: