A few thoughts on the humdrum 19-3 beating Pittsburgh just laid upon the Carolina Panthers in both teams' final preseason game. I watched this one on TV -- Tom Sorensen and I split the road games as The Observer's two sports columnists, and thankfully this one was all his.
1. So the Panthers' offense goes 0-for-the-preseason on offensive drives that led to touchdowns. I gave up counting after the number reached 50, but it was bad. I know, I know -- no No.28 and no No.89 in all the fake games, and in this one the Panthers played with their third- and fourth-string quarterbacks only. But still. The Panthers' offense this preseason was absolutely pathetic, which is why the team finished 1-3 in exhibition games despite generally great play from the defense.
2. Could the Panthers maybe -- just maybe -- complete a pass deep downfield to a wide receiver more than about once every 10 days? Is that asking too much?
3. The third bad thing is that there is such a thing as a fourth NFL exhibition at all. It's ridiculous. As I've been writing for years, I'm all for the 18-2 split instead of the current 16-4, where a team plays 18 regular-season games and only two preseason ones (the NFL commish wants to make the 18-2 split happen by 2012 season). Because this last game -- it's painful to sit through, especially for people who have actually paid to do so. Pay the players a little more and have them play 18 games; it's the right thing to do.
1. Although it wasn't particularly effective, it was nice to see Armanti Edwards in the Panthers' version of the "Wildcat" formation (the "Mountaineer"). He made a couple of sweet, albeit short, throws out of it, and he also had a pretty good punt return and a nice pickup on a fourth-down reception. Armanti has to have restored a little confidence with that one.
2. John Fox deciding to basically have his starters take the night off. I'm totally with him there. Fox doesn't care about preseason game No.4 except as a way to maybe determine roster spots 50-53 and doesn't want anybody to get hurt. I don't agree with a number of things Fox does, but he's completely right about that one.
And now let us all say hallelujah, for the preseason is over and we do not have to watch any more fake games for a very long time.