As you can tell by my name, I am a Chicago Bears fan. I was in attendance last Sunday when the Carolina Panthers gave the Bears a huge scare at Soldier Field. But like most teams that are struggling, the Panthers found a way to lose the game in the end. Based on record, the Panthers are one of the worst teams in football. But do they have more talent than their 1-6 record suggests?
Let’s start with quarterback Cam Newton. He certainly has the size, strength and tools to be one of the league’s best quarterbacks. I am just not sure if he is a leader. While most teams on offense look to their quarterback as the leader, Newton just doesn’t have the respect of this teammates. Watching him in the huddles and on the sidelines, he seems more about himself and less about his teammates. In a close game, he made a crucial mistake on a bad throw to Steve Smith that was intercepted by the Bears for a touchdown. Despite leading the Panthers down for a go-ahead field goal after the interception, it wasn’t the most perfect of drives. He had some chances to move the ball a bit further and eat up valuable time, but wasn’t able to close the deal. That gave the Bears a chance at the end to kick the game-winning field goal.
While you can’t blame Newton for the soft defense the Panthers played at the end of the game, you can blame him for not being assertive enough in their Panthers’ final drive. Just taking a little more time may have made the difference. But more to the point, it shows that the Panthers don’t know how to win games. In the Bears’ final drive, Jay Cutler was able to hit his receivers and pick up large chunks of yards essentially setting up an easy 41-yard field goal for Robbie Gould. The Panthers had no idea how to finish a game. That was their biggest issue.
The Panthers fired their GM Marty Hurney last week and will most likely fire head coach Ron Rivera by the end of the season. While I love Rivera and think he’s a good football man, I am just not sure if he’s the answer. This may be more of a mess than he’s ready to handle at this point of his career. I know he’s waited a long time for this opportunity, but it may not be the best fit. Plus his quarterback isn’t helping his cause going off the reservation. I’m not sure what the solution at head coach is for the Panthers, but it’s obvious Rivera will most likely not be it.