If you look at the game stats, the totals for each team, were almost indentical, rushing yards, total yards, turnovers, return yards, 3rd down ratio...so what was the difference? This team for whatever reason, starts out slow, always have, they dig a hole, sometimes huge and then fight and claw to get back in the game. The panthers are arguably the hottest team in the NFL and in the end, we had a chance and prob should have won the game....first crack in overtime and even the 2nd time, but again, came up short. The new england game and this game, shows this team can compete with the big boys, but there is a big difference between competing ....and winning. Starting out slow has become a very problematic issue, getting behind takes us out of a normal game plan, Gore has been very effective, but is a non factor in too many games (late) because of the deficit, its called complimentary football, everything working together. We see stretches of really good football, but they are few and far between....IF this team came out and played a 60 minute football game and played smart and didn't shoot themselves in the foot, they can be successfull, but for many reasons, they have not done that and each week, its going to get harder, players trying too hard..trying to win the game by themselves,etc.....the schedule has been brutal , with no end in sight. Things can turn around quickly in this league and since I really believe there is enough talent to compete (compete-meaning play with the big boys, but don't think this team as it stands now, can beat them) there is still hope for at least some degree of a respectable season. But each week, that becomes harder and harder and we are now at the halfway point in the season and there has been little to no progress made from game #1 to now, it's the same issues , game after game. And for the record, everyone is to blame, from the owner, down to the the players, nobody is doing an acceptable job.
Offense: Luck (23-47-231-2 TD's-3 INT) seems to be playing hurt, there are an endless amount of opinions on how a franchise QB, for his first 3 years can look elite, then look like he has no clue. The stats appear decent, but almost all of them came in the furious 4th quarter comeback and overtime. Don't really think he is hurt, but I do believe he is not 100%, great coaching,great plays from the supporting cast can help, but has not happened. Weak O-line, not great game planning, new players trying to fit in, turnovers, penalties, playing from behind.....it's ugly. Luck is pressing-too many variables all not working-together. The O-line play has been better, but is still nowhere close to being good enough. Hilton has not been the playmaker he has been been, if he is being targeted by the defense, then others should be open, that hasn't been the case. There has been much said about how Hilton and Moncrief have celebrated after scores, when the team is not even in the game, leading some to see this as a team without enough quality-veteran leadership, there are some high quality veteran leaders on this team, but does make you think about those comments and the mindset of the players and even moreso when you see games, when they really look unprepared and/or motivated to play a 60 minute game. Allen, once viewed as the next-great TE, has been a non factor, the rest of the supporting cast, shows up at times and ...........? Way too many high quality weapons on this team to be completly shut down, game after game. Johnson showed up this week (4-81-TD, Whalen (5-48) made plays down the stretch, Fleener was targeted often (7- 43-TD), Hilton-Moncrief and Allen combined for 4-37 yds. Gore (22-70) had another nice game, with him and Bradshaw (7-31) rotating , that duo could excell in a balanced offense, in an evenly played game and factoring in Luck's ability to run, should be a major plus.
Defense: played decent-on a curve, they did what they had to do, to keep the team in the game. It is not a dominating defense, far from it, but there are some talented players, the safeties have played well, Jackson has excelled, Mathis is slowly becoming more of a factor...others are solid, but what this team really lacks, is difference makers, you have to have them on defense to really compete, the more you have, the more dominating you can be....but you need them!! Jackson (13) again was the leading tackler and teamed up with Freemen for 25 stops, Mathis added 2 sacks. Davis doesn't appear to be playing at the same level, he has the past few seasons, but maybe that's more a result of the lack of pressure. The D-line also does not appear to be as stout as it was early on, they seemed to be playing better-early on and the thought was that they would improve, as the year went on and the results seem to indicate....that has not been the case.
Special teams: Adam had a great game going 4-4, including the game tieing field goal, as time expired. McAfee kicked great. Coverage units were good and Bray showed some explosiveness
Summary: somebody has got to figure out how to get this team to come out fast, play smart and play a 60 minute football game, this team has the talent to compete, the coaching may not be great, the leadership may not be great, but there is enough in place to be a solid football team, that can beat lesser teams and at least be competitive against the big boys and maybe be somewhat of a factor in the postseason.......................after the season, I think major changes need to be made, so that this era can reach it's potential- the hardest piece is in place...a franchise QB-he will be again and there are alot of solid and several very good players.....this team doesn't need to add a lot of new players..............just a handfull of difference makers. The blueprint is not working, the coaching needs to improve, some of the players need to step up.