Carolina has lost a tradition of competitive football and has entered a
tradition of mediocrity.
The team had a chance this week to get back to .500 or above for the
first time since January 2009. Carolina, after four games, hasn't been
at .500 or above since 2008's run (and, honestly, easy schedule - which
left them 3-1). Since then, it's been 1-3 or 0-4 in the first four
So, it's been since '08 since the team had a fighting chance four games
in. That's awful.
It's not good enough.
And it's not just Ron Rivera. Yes, you can write off some of the 2010
debacle in blame to Jerry Richardson. But taking that out as an
anomaly, it's not like things get much better in September and early
October. Good teams don't take the first quarter of the season off.
Is John Fox a good coach? Absolutely. I'd say that recent events
definitely put him ahead of Rivera, and he had chronically late starts
in pretty much every 7-9, 8-8 season he had.
This has to change. There's something to be said for late starts - the
Steelers and Giants, two teams near and dear to our owner - have made it
to multiple Super Bowls in recent history and, without really bothering
to look, I believe they're 3 of 4 on those. And they were late surge,
5-6 seed type teams who got hot at the right time. The problem is, you
have to play in September and October, too.
So here's a state of the team for Q1 2013.
They're third in overall defense, which is promising. 7th and 8th in
run and pass, overall. 22nd in sacks, oddly enough. 26th in passes
defensed, but tied for 10th with 6 INT. Unsurprisingly, Luke Keuchly is
top in tackles (38; Thomas Davis is 2nd with 29) and INT (2, tied with
the surprising Robert Lester). Lester is, per profootballfocus.com, one
of two safeties to not miss a tackle. The defense really seems to come
alive or flounder, to a point, based on its DTs, though that's more
observational than trackable at this point.
The offense, of course, isn't doing so well. With 3 low scoring games
and one in which they pulled off the throttle with 38 points, they're
27th in points and 24th in yards. Only high point? 7th in rush yards,
which stands to reason. Greg Olsen leads the team with 21 receptions to
Steve Smith's 18. Deangelo Williams is obviously the team lead in
rushing, at 4.5 per rush and 5th in the league individually. He's on
pace for 1320 yards, but with Jonathan Stewart coming back soon, that
pace probably doesn't hold up.
Cam Newton's 78.4 rating puts him 25th in players with more than 50
attempts. He's on pace for 3540 yards, 24 TD, 20 INT; 492 yards rushing
and 4 TDs there.
That's about what I get out of them for the first month. The record
says it all but there are various reasons to expect that this team is
buying time, not contending, and an easy-looking second quarter schedule
probably won't prove to be as easy as it should be.