The Panthers never should've had a shot - the run game completely collapsed, the team didn't keep consistent drives, and the defense tired. But the Panthers were in the game down to the last drive, and could've stolen the game if not for a few awful calls.
It's clear that Drew Carter was interfered with. It's clear that the Steve Smith catch was, in fact, a catch. Two feet down, a butt down, elbow down, and then a player comes in and knocks the ball out? Awful. Then again, if Jon Beason doesn't twist Terrell Owens' ankle, it could've been a rout.
The team fought throughout the game, and with another solid outing by Matt Moore, stood at the verge of basic competence on offense. The defense made plays, including another game changer by Thomas Davis, and kept us in range. Fighting through games like this shows the necessary improvement to keep parts of the staff intact, though had there been fewer blowouts early in the year, there'd have been no reason.
Rumors abound that Charlie Weis will be fired from the Notre Dame job after a disappointing season. While new Dolphin head honcho Bill Parcells will keep his eye on Weis, the theoretically deposed star would probably want to take it easy for a year and reap some of the rewards of the contract he earned.
Unless Weis actively held an NFL job as a necessity, chances are he'd take a year off from coaching. Whether he'd help good friend John Fox and protege' Jeff Davidson as a consultant, is hard to say, but he wouldn't likely come on staff even as a personal favor to Fox.
The Falcons have talked with Marty Schottenheimer regarding their coaching vacancy, and with GM Rich McKay on the way out, Chargers Assistant GM Buddy Nix might be the other side of the pairing. Nix, by account of Chargers GM AJ Smith, was close to Schottenheimer. Smith himself warred with Schottenheimer.
Marty wouldn't be an awful fit for the Falcons, and is a tough nosed, conservative coach whose teams play hard. Whether he can strike gold again or not, I wouldn't say, and his coaches are scattered across the league after his departure, forcing him to hope to draw big names as coordinators again. Without lucking into a big back, and with the defense lacking the huge names to make a Kurt Schottenheimer look good, the years worth of roster turnover getting to that point would be after closing the window on what they do have.