Nonsense, say I.
(hat tip: Shakespeare’s Sister)
I didn’t actually watch this game. But a perusal of the game center suggests that luck and a tired Atlanta d-line in the waning minutes of the game had a lot more to do with the Panthers’ win than skill did. I mean, c’mon, how often does a team give up 67 yards in penalties in one drive? And DeAngelo Hall gets both a personal foul and an unsportsmanlike? C’mon.
The Panthers’ secondary continues to be a problem. If I’m counting right, the Panthers gave up almost 250 passing yards in the first half. Discount the 69-yard touchdown catch-and-run, and that’s still on pace for a 300-yard game.
A win is a win, and I won’t refuse this one. But this was a win against a division rival expected to be fairly weak. It was a win the Panthers should have gotten just to make 8-8, and the fact that they pulled it off on hostile turf doesn’t erase any of the doubts I raised last week about this team’s abilities. The potential injury to Steve Smith raises even more doubts, inasmuch as none of the other receivers have shown .
The Panthers are home next week to the Bucs, who beat the Rams 24-3 today. That’s the same Rams team Carolina beat in Week 1. The game winner might well win the division.
That’d be the Davidson Wildcats, yo. I don’t give Lundy as much credence as The Associated Press when it comes to basketball polls — and I don’t give any preseason poll all that much credence, particularly below the Top 10 — but Davidson’s got all five starters and some capable subs back from a team that made its second straight NCAA tourney appearance. Its point guard, for example, was second in the nation at 7.3 assists/game last year. The team also has stability in head coach Bob McKillop, whose system is predicated on forcing other teams into mistakes. Combined with the kind of schedule that the selection committee drools over come tourney time, this team could be something special.
(Hat tip: DrFrankLives)
UPDATE: ESPN also has the ‘Cats ranked preseason. “Deal with it,” their writer says.
When the Panthers announced during the free-agency period that they wouldn’t be making any big moves because they were confident they could do well with the players they had, I was pretty sure that was just making a virtue out of necessity: With two exceptions, they had the lowest room under the salary cap of any team in the league at that point.
Turns out they were serious … and, based on the Houston game, dead wrong. The only place they improved was at backup quarterback.
I predicted before the season started that they’d be weak in 2007; right now, I’m specifically predicting 8-8. The NFC continues to look weak, so that still looks likely, but they’re a Steve Smith groin pull away from 4-12 or worse.
With all due respect to Houston’s Andre Johnson, one of the league’s top receivers, the secondary got torn apart. The front seven, so respected in recent years, clearly has lost a step — Julius Peppers and Dan Morgan looked ordinary on Sunday and positively horrible against the run, and for all the noise about former All-Pro Kris Jenkins showing up to camp in shape and ready to play, his number didn’t get called much either.
On the offensive side, the team has managed to start yet another season without a No. 2 receiver capable of forcing opponents to put single coverage on Steve Smith. Keary Colbert and Drew Carter had, by my count, four drops; Carter’s drop was on a bomb that could have led to a score and kept the Panthers in the game.
The offensive line couldn’t move Houston’s front off the ball, and Deshaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams couldn’t move the pile to make up the difference. As I’ve said before, as many years as the O-line has been a problem for this club, you’d think they’d learn. But no.
For the record, lest anyone start calling for David Carr to start, Delhomme shares no blame for this mess. He has done his job.
The irony is that Houston is the team that Carolina, under John Fox, wants to be and has tried to be throughout Fox’s tenure. The Panthers, on the other hand, are just bad. The only question is whether they’ll have a mediocre season or another 2001 death march.
This was the matchup between Victoria’s team and her friend Avery’s team. I spent the entire game staring into the rising sun, so I’m not certain of everything I thought I was seeing, but I don’t think Avery scored.
It was a closer game than the score indicates, and one of the goals was a simple roll-in. One, in fact, came when Victoria blocked a shot but the deflection caught the goalkeeper going in the wrong direction.
Victoria spent much of the game at fullback, and she wasn’t messing around about getting the ball out of Buttercup territory. Her kicks were long and consistent, except when she passed to teammates near midfield a couple of times. Abby spent some time in goal until coming out after a Pepper stepped on her arm, and she played well, too. I’m still learning the other girls’ names and faces, so I don’t know whom else to credit.
I think the game came down to ball control — the Peppers were a little better at it, and that gave them the margin.
The real winner in this game was Mr. Sun — it was at least 95 on the broad, unshaded field s of Bryan Park when the game started and it only got hotter when it went on. (You’d think I’d remember that and bring extra water and an umbrella, but no.)
In the second half, substitutions became more frequent, and the ref even stopped the game at one point for a water break. Both sides were slower to the ball, and the teams got off only two decent shots on goal apiece in the second half. V. spent more of her time in the game on offense, which she doesn’t like as much as fullback, but she had some good passes. She also caught the other team’s keeper off guard and shot from about 25 feet away, much farther than she normally shoots from. It went nowhere close, but it was a good idea.
Coming up this week, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, on which Victoria’s friend Avery plays. They’re always very talented and, unlike the Tigers, their team survived the summer breakups pretty much intact. It’ll be interesting to see.
The Tigers are dead; long live the Buttercups.
After last spring, the time came for girls to decide whether they wanted to continue playing in the recreational league or move up to something more competitive and time-consuming — I can’t remember whether it’s called Academy or Challenge or something else. Anyway, the only Tiger who wanted to move up also happened to be the coach’s daughter. The coach also wanted to move up. Because no Tiger parent could commit to coaching the team for the fall (guilty as charged), the Tigers were dispersed to the four winds.
Victoria and Abby landed with the Buttercups, a team with close geographic ties to us. I wasn’t able to watch the first practice, so I don’t know how good the team is, but I guess we’ll find out this afternoon when the Buttercups take on the Hot Shots at 2 p.m.