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Monday, October 13, 2014
The Carolina Panthers Kiss their Bengal Tigers Sisters at 37
It's games like yesterday's Panthers-Bengals game that make me happy I don't have any siblings, especially not a sister.
The thought of having one AND kissing her isn't something that (thankfully) enters my mind much - only on occasions like this.
Sure, in college my namesake and then-Auburn Head Coach, Pat Dye, was rather fond of them. So much so, in fact, a ticked-off Syracuse fan base sent him a box of gaudy-patterned ones after he kicked a short FG to tie a bowl game matchup "back in the day."
To our credit, the Auburn fan base sent THEIR head coach a box of fresh green grapes (sour, of course) in return. The ties actually became a big story on the "loveliest village on the plain," and the coach signed them all, charged fans $50 apiece for them, and donated the proceeds to charity.
Well, that was the GOOD "tie." The only "good" tie I think I've ever seen, having been unable to stop the Orangemen's running game. The mascot dates things.
As far as yesterday's 37-37 tie, the only "good" part was when Bengals kicker Mike Nugent missed a chip-shot FG as time ran out in overtime to keep both teams notching up one in the "T" column.
Ugh. The "T" column. It's a crime that thing even exists. So much for "sudden death overtime," eh?
The day did not go well for the Panthers. After a dominating opening drive, the team was out of sorts in all three phases of the game, and the propensity of a once-mighty now-fallen defense for giving up not big plays but MASSIVELY big plays on a consistent basis is deeply troubling.
Equally as baffling was Ron Rivera's sudden shift back to "playing not to lose" was evident. With a 4th and short, he kicked the field goal to re-tie the game in overtime after Cincy had booted a FG with their opening possession. Cam had repeatedly shredded the left side of the defense with his runs and was looking like his old, healthy self again. It wasn't like things looked like the Bengals could stop a patented Newton QB sneak, that's for sure.
After Le'Veon Bell torched us in week three, including an 85-yard run, Bengals RB Giovanni Bernard burned us even worse with an 89-yard TD run.
Later, Adam "Pac-Man" Jones torched the special teams unit for a 97-yard kickoff return down to our 3 yard line.
Now, I've been down on the defense, but you can't blame them for giving up 6 points when the opponent's offense only has to get three yards for it. The special teams let us down there, but the defense certainly gave up plenty of long gainers as well, and I'm trying to figure out why.
What has changed since last season's dominating performance...and forcing other teams to actually work the field instead of shrugging and saying "okay, we'll just spot you guys 6. I'm gonna go get a Gatorade."
We don't have Greg Hardy, the team's premiere pass-rusher, but his absence alone doesn't begin to explain one of the worst (if not THE worst) defensive drop-offs from one season to the next in NFL history. It's that bad so far.
Especially when we're so vulnerable against the run now, it makes no sense. I'll have to go look at the film play by play and frame by frame in some cases to know for sure, but the one thing I did see and could identify as an issue was one that has been going on since that Pittsburgh loss.
That issue is Roman Harper. While he's a physical player, I have seen him out of position on most of those big gainers the defense has given up. He's certainly not the ONLY problem, but his continued lack of awareness is shocking for someone who has been around the NFL for as long as he has been. A lot of people seem down on Thomas DeCoud as well, but he seems to be far more consistent than does Harper. When he's right, Harper tends to make flashier plays, but when he's wrong it costs us points.
And he has been wrong a lot recently, it seems!
It really is becoming a head-scratcher as to why this defense is so bad, but being in the wrong spot is a common thing that leads to big plays in general. Carolina certainly has given up more than their share, and that's what is getting so frustrating.
Why is it that people can't be where they're supposed to be?
I can only think of coaching, coachability, or a combination of the two. Being out of position is 100% mental. The defense can't be depended upon to stop anyone at this point, having given up 37+ points in three of the last four weeks.
As far as the actual game went, I think the consensus is that it WAS an ugly game. My friend, the Professor here on this site had said so. Nobody is happy with a tie. In fact, both kickers missed short field goals to have that tie. We were lucky to not have left town with a big ole "L."
Since the Panthers head to Lambeau this coming weekend, the troubles on defense look to just get worse and more exposed than ever. Aaron Rodgers is on a roll and the Pack will be playing at home. Carolina goes up there with a defense hanging in rags and with Cam being the only consistent player on the entire team. Anyone thinking Cam is the problem needs their head examined.
Now's the time for the team to face reality and pick a direction to go. They'll fight through whatever comes their way, but I think the record itself speaks to how things have been going lately.
Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye