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Panthers Thoughts – Week Twelve: Super Cam 1-0

Week 12 thoughts on the Carolina Panthers team building victory over the lifeless Philadelphia Eagles.

In a battle between two dead teams, the Panthers showed a little life. If you’re someone like me who wants to see Ron Rivera fired, this was a depressing win. But since Rivera’s future probably isn’t in Carolina anyway, this was a nice win for the team moving forward.

In his Monday Night Football debut, Cam Newton played like Super Cam. He threw for just over 300 yards and 2 TD’s and ran for over 50 yards and another 2 TD’s. All in all, it may have been his best game as a starter as his decision making was on point and he was making good throws for most the part. He actually missed a couple of open receivers in the first half, but at least he didn’t look like Nick Foles out there. The thing I like most about Cam, and something that I think get overlooked, is his decision making when running. When he needs to fight for extra yards, he will. But if he sees that he has nowhere to go and it’s first down, he’ll give himself up and live to fight another day. I honestly wondered what was going through Michael Vick’s head when he saw Newton just fall down instead of taking a beating for a yard or two. And mind you Newton is much bigger than Vick and could probably take those hits, but he’s not stupid. He knows that he’s more valuable to the team on the field than he is on the sidelines.

The defense wasn’t great, but they were opportunistic. They gave up over 200 yards rushing, 178 of that to first time starter Bryce Brown, but they also forced Brown to fumble the ball twice. They could’ve picked off Foles about 5 times throughout the game, but just couldn’t secure the ball. It was pretty disheartening to see a makeshift offensive line and a rookie running back gut the defense the way they did, but not entirely unexpected.

Special teams is still a huge problem for this team to the point where I think they should just go for it on every fourth down and always try for a two point conversion. Also, get a kicker that can kick the ball out of the endzone so they don’t get burned there either. After going up 8 (it should’ve been 9 but the kicker missed the extra point), the Eagles had a 50 yard run back negated when Boykin fumbled the ball and the Panthers recovered. It’s nice to see the team go for takeaways, but they can’t keep giving up these big yards on punts and kick offs.

Ron Rivera continues to be incompetent though. With 41 seconds left and three timeouts, Rivera decided to keep them all in his pocket and go into the half down 15-14. That’s a baffling decision on so many levels. First off, timeouts don’t carry over, so you may as well use them. Second, Cam thrives in an up tempo offense. Finally, the Eagles defense isn’t that great and receivers were getting open down the field all half. Even Cam was baffled, looking over at the sidelines in frustration as Rivera just let the clock run out.

All this game proved was that the Eagles are in worse shape than the Panthers. And I don’t think the Panthers are in terrible shape, minus their head coach. They’ve been in the majority of their games this year, they just haven’t figured out how to win those games. The same can be said for last year’s team. I still believe that a competent head coach who actually shows some life can get this team over the hump.

The team has a chance to win two straight games for the first time this year on Sunday when they play the Chiefs. Please God don’t let us lose to the Chiefs.

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