Why there is Hope
According to sportswriter Darin Gantt the Carolina Panthers offensive numbers are in the toilet. They rank 31st in the NFL in total offense and 32nd in points scored. However, as he shows, they are ranked 15th in total defense and in points allowed they rank 21st. Not bad, really, when you consider how much time that unit has spent on the field in the first three games. On average this season we have had the ball for 25 minutes and our opponents average 33.
All the Panthers have needed to do in these games was generate some offense and score a few points and we would have a winning record. Games like yesterday were essentially won by our defense and the offense threw the game away. A rare fumble by Stewart in the middle of the 4th quarter took the team out of the game yesterday. I think they had the game won at that point. We were down 13-7 and they were moving the ball. Clausen was throwing strikes all over the field. Steve Smith caught a pass and was fired up and they were running the ball well. Stewart's fumble was not indicative of a failing team but just the result of a good hit.
You cannot have watched that drive and the rest of the fourth quarter and witnessed the composure and leadership of Jimmy Clausen and think that this season is lost. Our defense can hang with anybody and as Clausen gets comfortable as the starter this will be a team that can compete. Clausen is the best pure quarterback this team has ever had. We have not had a player at that position you could call a franchise player that you could build a team around until now. That is, to me, very exciting.