11 September, 2009


A sinking feeling washes over the cockpit of the “Fastest Ship in the Galaxy”, the Millennium Falcon, as Jedi Master Obi-wan Kenobi tells Captain Solo to turn the ship around – but it’s no use – the massive space station plucks the ship out of space, with its strategically invaluable cargo, into the maw of the enemy, with as little effort as Dano gulps down a tasty brat. It’s a hopeless situation with no prospect for escape.
The young hero-in-waiting Luke Skywalker utters the obvious –

“I got a baaaaaaad feeling about this….”

And that’s the same feeling I’m getting now, having watched progressively worse performances overall from our Panthers, never mind the ejection episode, which will be permanently resolved this Sunday. What WON’T be resolved is the problem with the team. And believe it or not, it began to manifest itself late last year. Hearken back to the Green Bay game. Yeah, Aaron Rogers and his Frisbee-catchin’ dogs are great, but a truly great defense would have NEVER allowed them back in the game. Week after week, our defense had been gashed again and again, and our OFFENSE pulled us out. It was great fun, until Kurt Warner totally exposed us, and by then, it was too late. A wholesale turnover on the coaching staff, save Foxy, was going to save us. But watching the team play this pre-season, has got me thinking that the Meeks does NOT inherit this defense, much less the earth. And something’s wrong with the way they are playing together. In Meek’s defensive system, players are to fly to the ball, but what is happening is the ball carrier is FLYING THROUGH WITH THE BALL! I’ve never seen a John Fox team tackle so badly, a portent of terrible things to come.

And even MORE sadly, the offense has had absolutely NO pop whatsoever. Ok, yeah, Mike Goodson and Kenny Moore have had some decent spurts, but let’s see what happens when the bullets are real. Jake Delhomme just doesn’t look the same, and that’s not good. The offensive line doesn’t seem to be together either. What is going to happen when the game plan of our opponents manages to shut down the once-potent running game? I’ve had the Wildman, an x’s and o’s man from way back, explain it to me, and it sounds plausible. The Panther’s opponent stacks 8 in the “box” against the run. Three in the backfield, a double team of Smith. I just don’t see Jake passing his way out of that scheme down after down. Oh, we’ll have our moments. We’ll have SOME games where we score 24 points or more. But not like last year, when a 30-point game was the norm. I’m not feeling it. There’s something missing from this team, and I’m on a mission to find out what THAT something is.

I could start with that EXCESSIVE salary given to Julius Peppers. Franchising him was the selection of Stalin over Hitler in the between A-Rock-And-A-Hard-Place the Panthers were in a few months ago. This move, while keeping a load of potential in uniform on our side, HAMSTRUNG the ability to sign players that would be serious help, particularly in the middle, where we are weakest. Is it the nagging injuries to some key players? Nonsense. The Squeelers were hurt where it’s worst, on the offensive line, and where did they wind up? Of course, they had that defense. Tell you what. I got an ideal- Put these chains on the Wookie …..


Ok, maybe I’LL put the chains on the Wookie, and we’ll see if we can sneak around this Death Star of a season, and see if there’s any hope of connecting the R-2 unit to the Lombardi Trophy…


Right out of the gate, we get one of the media’s stoutest challengers in the Eagles. While they’ve never been a great running team, they’ve always been a BIG PLAY team. There’s not too many big players like Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb. This could become a shootout, but unlike waves of Stormtroopers falling into blaster shots, I believe that the incredibly flat preseason will carry over to this game, and it’s the ‘Cats that get shot down. An “L”.


No sooner do we lick our wounds from Philthy’s beatdown, we go to our personal house of horrors in the Georgia Dome. The Panthers always find a way to lose here, and this game will be no exception. The rebel base has been overrun, and Imperial troops once again re-establish their positions.


If we’re wondering if this represents a light spot in the schedule, think again. The Cowbabies usually peak early in the season, and they’ll run all over us like Mynocks on power cables. Jerry Jones new BILLION dollar stadium is the new darling of the broadcast world, and has built in advantages for the overrated Cowpuppies. But it all adds up to yet another loss for the Panthers. We go into the ridiculously early bye 0-3, and largely forgotten by the league.


The Panthers return home to a stadium half-filled with DeadSkins fans, also in a wretched spot, looking for a rare win. Only this time, a team with more problems than we do actually takes a positive turn for us! We manage to swipe the plans for the Lombardi Trophy, but now, we have to get the plans into the hands of those that can decipher the schematic. A game of field goals won by John Kasay.


This early in the season is a tough spot for us to play at Tampa, but this team will truly be wretched. They may be able to move on us, but we’ll be better on this day. We outrun those Imperial slugs and are on our way to a better record.


Another team we shouldn’t have a problem with at home, but this is the ’09 Panthers, who will not get anything easy. TO will get his yards, but this time, the stadium will have a decent amount of fair-weather fans in it that will last at least three quarters. The ‘Cats will take some steps into a larger world by getting to ,500.


A revenge game – and remember, ONLY OUR HATRED can destroy the humilator of last year’s playoff debacle! Uh,no. There were unexpected matchup problems last year, and I think our defense is so far regressed from even then. Warner & F.C.D.’s will blast the Puddycats back.


We usually do well at the Superdome – Not this time. This season will belong to the Saints, and Brees will do to our defense ten times worse than Warner does the previous week. He should – it’s a division game. So now, the team is going into the last half of the season 3-5 and needing to go just the opposite to even break even. But it won’t be enough to get a chance at a trip to Miami –


A hell of a way to start the second half of the season. While I anticipate the Duckies to have somewhat of a sophomore slump, I still maintain they will be better than the Panthers this year. Even on natural grass, and even the staunchest of fans begins to lose hope. The classifieds begin to flood with tickets for sale.

GAME 10 – vs MIAMI

By now, half the tickets for this game will be firmly in the hands of Dolphins fans, who will be quite vocal in the comfy Carolina November air. This could be the last gasp for any chance at a shot at the Lombardi Trophy. Miami’s controlled offense will gash the Panthers again and again, and the result, another home loss.


With the season slipping from them, the Panthers actually matchup ok with the Jets, and they do the previous week’s victor a favour by stealing a road victory from the offensively challenged Jets. By now, a wild card is the only chance the Panthers have. But hey, they’ve hit Womprats before plenty of times in T-16’s, and they’re not much more than two meters wide. Hope returns, if just fleeting.


A chance at a sweep? You betcha. Tampa, suffering a beat-down season of legendary proportions is eager to get their forgettable season behind them. A three – quarters full stadium gets a laugher for once, and the wildcard chances glimmer just a BIT brighter…


Not the impossible game you’d think! The Pastry-Rots’ defense is not what it once was, and at last, the Panther offense has found it footing, and this turns into a really entertaining shootout, until – you guessed it-

Jake Delhomme tosses a maddening pick to end the game whilst driving for the winning score. 5-8 will be a hell of a hole to dig out of. The radio talk shows are abuzz about the future of Fox/Hurney.


By this time, Brett Favre will be in season-ending hibernation, and all of the fanboys who can’t get over him will be filling the stadium in their #4 jerseys nonetheless. The Viking defense will be in late season form, and they get the game they have to have to keep pace with the surging Packers. Who are doing it without Favre. Which is what the Vikings SHOULD have done. But all the same, another previously winning season is guaranteed to be followed by a LOSING season.


Are we kidding? A loss. A John Fox team has never lost in the double digits. Until now.


Having long since clinched the division, the Saints go into this chilly day intent on resting Brees and co. The starters play for a series, and the Panthers can window dress the worst season since ’01 by winning this meaningless game. 6-10. From 12-4 and a top seed. The Big Cat will make changes, to be sure, and Foxy becomes a coordinator somewhere. And Hurney can return to sportswriting.

So what’s missing from this team? Leadership? Coaching? Talent? I refuse to believe the latter. I’m detecting a bit of complacency. But, other than the Super Bowl year, there’s really no laurels for Fox to rest on. The Ravens DID fire THEIR championship coach after years of mediocrity. And if this bit of dreary forecasting is realized, then we as fans are faced with those most dreaded words in NFL fandom –


Wow, y’all. That was really depressing to write. But if the team doesn’t FIND THE FORCE it once had, this is our destiny! To re-write it, we have to do one thing, and one thing first.

Keep our vision on the here, and now. Win at home against Philthydelphia, and we are already improving to 7-9. Take it one at a time, team, and don’t fufill my dismal prophecy. We haven’t been pulled into the Death Star yet. I still have a bad feeling about this season, but a great party in the lot, you will have, and the future – written yet, it is not….

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


No comments: