Tom Sorensen

Carolina Panthers are 1-4, but are they REALLY 1-4?

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and his team don’t believe they are deserving of their 1-4 record, but Monday’s loss to Tampa Bay says otherwise.
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and his team don’t believe they are deserving of their 1-4 record, but Monday’s loss to Tampa Bay says otherwise. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Like every 1-4 team in the history of the NFL and probably the world, the Carolina Panthers believe that despite their 1-4 record they are not a 1-4 team. They believe they’re better. They’re wrong. If you lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home on Monday Night Football in front of fans who make enough noise to prove they still believe, you’re a 1-4 team.

Blame backup quarterback Derek Anderson for his three turnovers if you choose. I thought Tampa Bay’s final drive was even more telling. The Buccaneers, who started their game-winning drive on their 14 with 1:49 remaining, had spent the evening protecting quarterback Jameis Winston. To avoid the risk of an interception, they committed to the run, and stayed committed to the run after it ceased to work.

But on third and 7 from their 17, Winston looked for nobody but receiver Mike Evans. There he was open for the first down. And there was Winston with time to find him. And there was Tampa Bay with a 17-14 victory.

I wrote this last week but it’s still true. Carolina’s offensive line and defensive line routinely are outplayed by their counterparts. The defensive line can’t get to the passer and the offensive line struggles to protect its passer.

Also, the Panthers make so many mistakes it’s as if they collect them. A.J. Klein’s fourth-quarter personal foul penalty was blatant and silly and the kind of mistake a linebacker on a 1-4 team makes. Klein is Luke (Kuechly) Light, a smart, smart player. He always has been, anyway.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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