Here are the 5 things I liked most in Carolina’s 23-10 season-closing win over New Orleans. The game ended the Panthers’ 2009 season at 8-8 but only began a very interesting offseason.
No.1 issue? Getting John Fox’s situation resolved – the coach has a year left on his deal but was very non-committal Sunday (and sounded annoyed) in his postgame press conference about whether he wanted to return to coach the Panthers in 2010. Here's my column about that.
Now, onto the 5 things I liked most Sunday:
1. Fans. For the coldest-weather home game in Panther history – and one that had absolutely no playoff implications – they still came out and cheered lustily. Impressive. I thought there would be far more no-shows.
2. Jonathan Stewart. He ran for 100-plus – again. He scored from 67 yards out. He ended up outgaining DeAngelo Williams for the season (1,133 to 1,117) and scoring at least four more TDs than every other Panther in 2009 (Stewart had 11).
3. Defense. Helped by the fact there was no Drew Brees to worry about, the Panthers made the ancient Mark Brunell look like he had quarterbacked in the first game Carolina ever played in 1995 (which, in fact, he had). Richard Marshall, Julius Peppers and Jon Beason all had particularly good games, I thought.
4. Matt Moore. Ho-hum. Another win. Another 95-plus passer rating. Another win. Moore is now 6-2 as a starter at Carolina, and he’s got to be the favorite (or at least co-favorite) to win the job again for 2010.
5. Dwayne Jarrett. Finally, a breakout game. Jarrett caught all five passes thrown at him, scored his first-ever NFL touchdown and looked, for once, like the second-round pick he was in 2007.