What happens when your season starts to take a nosedive and everyone starts calling for a coaching and quarterback change?
If you are the Carolina Panthers, you just shrug them off, look in the mirror and let the rest of the league know that your time is coming. To say that even the most hardcore Panthers fan saw this streak coming would be one of the funniest stories told in a long time.
Ron Rivera was probably one more loss from being unemployed, and there was talk of Cam Newton being replaced due to his early-season struggles. Then the team decided enough was enough and started playing NFL football. In my opinion, the team was always good, but it was missing one key component — a killer instinct. The offense had the firepower to put points on the board, but the defense was often missing impact players due to injuries.
The Panthers need to send a thank-you card to the Arizona Cardinals for that wake-up call on October 6. The Panthers knew something needed to change about their approach to the game. We can talk all day about the level of their competition, but they were not playing Pop Warner, high school, college or CFL teams — they were facing and destroying NFL teams.
The guys that lined up across from them are highly-paid professionals who take their jobs seriously. No game is ever a cakewalk, but the Panthers have made this winning streak look relatively easy over the past seven weeks.
America was waiting for the San Fransisco 49ers to punch the Panthers in their mouth and show them that they have no shot when they play a real contender. Then the talk came about how Newton and the Panther were lucky to get the win against the powerful 49ers, but how they will not have the same outcome when the New England Patriots came to town. Yellow flag or not, the Patriots were embarrassed and the league was put on notice that these guys are for real.
The Miami Dolphins game was seen s a trap game for them. They were coming off of two highly-emotional wins against respective NFC and AFC contenders. With their inexperience of being in this position, many thought their focus would wander. The Dolphins played well and had the Panthers on the ropes but when you are hot, nothing is going to stand in your way of your goals.
The Panthers earned my respect in Week 1 when they fought the Seattle Seahawks in an alley fight and got caught slipping in the end with a quick uppercut to the chin. The identity of this team took its time to come to the surface, but it has been a sight to behold since. They have the whole country talking about them now, and I think they are sitting back and saying “The ride is not over yet, come on aboard, there is more room on the bandwagon.”
“This is going to be one heck of a ride to the Super Bowl.”