Friday’s Panthers pre-season game can be summed up easily – they didn’t show up. It was a bad weekend for both me and the Panthers. The offense looked lost at times, and the defense was on the field too long playing from behind the majority of the game. After the win a couple of weeks ago against the New York Giants, I felt energized and ready to see Cam in his first starting performance. Instead, I was left staring at the television wondering if I was watching a game from the 2010 season. Saturday night went equally bad for me, as for the first time in my life I was stood up. In essence, I was stood up twice this weekend.
Saturday afternoon I went to the grocery store to pick up a few last minute items for a dinner I was preparing for a date that night. I was very much looking forward to the night with a girl who I had recently reconnected with and who I had not seen in quite some time. I had invited her over with plans to cook dinner for her. We had spoken several times during the week, and we even confirmed our plans the night before. I spent most of the afternoon preparing, canceling some plans with some other friends of mine so that I could stay home to tidy up the apartment and start preparing dinner. The plan was for her to show up around seven, and I asked her to call me before she left her house so I would know when to start the grill.
When 6:55 rolls around and I haven’t heard from her yet, I think it’s no big deal. She is a girl – they have a track record of running late. At 7:15 when I still haven’t heard anything I start to become mildly concerned. I give her a call – no answer. 7:45 comes and still nothing. Now I am hungry, so I decide to go ahead and start dinner – maybe she got held up, something came up, whatever. At 9 the food is done and I eat dinner alone. Not to pat myself on the back, but it was pretty good – I know my way around a Webber. However, there was still no word from the said date. My night ended with me meeting a buddy of mine at a bar to kick back a couple and discuss the events of the night without ever hearing from her. I wasn’t really sad or angry – just disappointed that I had prepared so much and let down because I was looking forward to a great evening.
The feelings that I had on Saturday were not new or foreign to me, because quite frankly I had the same feelings on Friday night. I sat on the couch, turned on the television and was ready for my “date” with the Panthers. I was ready to see Cam Newton in his first start come out and have the electricity that he had shown just a week before. I thought we would get to see Newton’s first touchdown in the black and blue. I thought our defense would be able to handle a Miami Dolphins team that a week or so ago looked so inept that their own fans booed Chad Henne and were asking for former Panther Matt Moore to start. None of this happened – instead we all watched an offense that only managed two first downs in the first half and a defense that made Henne and Reggie Bush look like they were starting Pro-Bowlers. I have had the computer put up a better effort against me in Madden than what the Panthers were doing out there.
Cam’s opening performance went a little like this – 7 of 14 for 66 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed 4 times for 18 yards – not exactly Tom Brady like numbers. The offensive line at times looked like swiss cheese and did not do a very good job protecting either Cam or Jimmy. The running game was nonexistent – DeAngelo Williams had only 3 attempts for six yards. The only running back that I thought looked effective at all was Tyrell Sutton, who scored the Panthers only touchdown of the evening on four yard scamper. He also showed promise on a screen pass that he took for 21 yards. Jimmy Clausen’s night wasn’t much more effective than Cam’s. He went 9 of 15 for 69 yards with no scores and no picks either. Ron Rivera’s decision of who to start week one is not going to be an easy one. I did think the two tight ends looked decent combining for 48 yards, although I am not quite sure if any of the other receivers actually played in the game.
The defense wasn’t much better. They were unable to get off the field at times and let the Dolphins convert 6 of 13 third downs. The Fins were also able to get 25 first downs to our 10, and they basically controlled the clock the majority of the game. Reggie Bush was able to eat us up for 8 for 48 on the ground and added another 33 yards in the air. The one highlight the Panther D had come in the first half when Thomas Davis was able to strip the ball from Daniel Thomas on first and goal, only to have that negated by a twelve men on the field penalty. The rest of that drive we showed promise, stopping the Dolphins three more times on the goal line until Lex Hilliard came in on fourth down and punched it in. The D-line looked fatigued at times and did not have a very good pass rush. In their defense, they were on the field the majority of the game since the offense was not able to sustain any type of drive. We really need Jon Beason and Chris Gamble back on the field. It was nice to see Thomas Davis return – he looked hungry and ready to play.
All in all, not a lot of promise came out of Friday’s game. We are a young team and we are going to have some growing pains. I think the Panthers can learn a lot from the loss, and I am sure none of them are looking forward to watching that film next week. I know I wouldn’t watch that game over again if you paid me. We have a short week this week and little time to prepare, but hopefully Rivera with have the boys ready to play. I have marked off Thursday night because I am giving the Cats another chance at date night – hopefully they will show up this time. As for the girl, she will get no second chance (really it would be a third chance – that was basically her second one, but that’s a different story for a different time). I can’t excuse a no-call, no-show. I have a strict firing policy on that. However, I do have a lot of food leftover if anybody is hungry.