Why are fans so disappointed with the Carolina Panthers?
I wrote my column for Monday's newspaper about this subject. The short answer, of course, is the 1-4 record. But it's more complicated than that. In 2011, after five games, the Panthers were 1-4. In 2012, after five games and coming off a bye on Sunday, they are also 1-4.
So why all the outcry this season? Why – in my own opinion and also based on the emails I trade and the conversations I have with fans (along with the comments posted in this blog) -- does this year seem so much worse?
I propose a three-part theory in my column, but I'd like to hear your thoughts as well. Here's the short version -- check the column for more details:
1) A simple lack of scoring.
In 2011, the Panthers lost their fifth game at home, 30-27, to New Orleans. It was a compelling game to the end.
In 2012, the Panthers lost their fifth game at home, 16-12, to Seattle. It was a compelling game to the end.
The difference? The Panthers scored more last year. Steve Smith caught a 54-yard touchdown pass in that New Orleans game. DeAngelo Williams had a 69-yard touchdown run. Even though they went home frustrated, fans also had more big moments to talk about. The games were more fun to watch in 2011.
2. Cam Newton’s temporary on-field regression.
I would agree with head coach Ron Rivera, who said last week that Newton is pressing too much on the field. I would go further, in fact, and say that Newton has regressed compared to the first five games of his rookie year. Remember, he threw for more than 400 yards in his first two NFL games ever (although the Panthers lost both).
And as Newton’s honeymoon period concludes, he is also being judged against a far tougher standard – his own performance of 2011, rather than Jimmy Clausen’s performance of 2010.
3) The Ryan Kalil ad.
In late July, without mentioning it to anyone in the Panther organization, Kalil took out a full-page advertisement in The Charlotte Observer which began: “Why the Carolina Panthers will win Super Bowl XLVII” and which ended with Kalil’s signature.
I loved the gesture. But it had some unintended consequences. It was so unusual it gave rise to unbridled optimism from Panther fans. The ad raised expectations dramatically and the Panthers have come nowhere close so far to meeting them. To make matters worse, Kalil is now on injured reserve -- an unwilling symbol for how things can chase for the worse so quickly in the NFL.
What's your theory? And do you think the Panthers have any chance at rebounding this season?