Thoughts on the Panthers Lost Season
This is what looks like when a team quits; getting embarrassed 40-7 in primetime to ensure your team will not have consecutive winning seasons for 22 years.
This is what it looks when control is completely lost; when a two-time Coach of the year has to bench your starting QB, and reigning MVP, for a reported Dress Code Violation.
Is it the worst thing in the world? No. But that’s the deal with Cam Newton. All of these little things build, and add up and eventually boil over.
While I agree with Rivera’s decision to penalize Cam for breaking the rules, it must be noted that I also believe he’s partly to blame for this issue.
When you position yourself as a Players’ Coach and foster an environment of permissiveness, and allow the emotions of the team guide the performance of the team, this is what you end up with. It’s great when things are going well. It spirals to a level of disaster when they don’t.
When you continually make excuses rather than hold people accountable, specifically with the appointed leaders of the team, this is the potential result.
I don’t believe all of this was due to a simple Dress Code violation. I believe the situation with the necktie served as a tipping point within the deteriorating dynamics of this football team. Rivera finally had enough.
You can’t convince me all of this, during a primetime game before a national TV audience, was solely due to Rivera wanting Cam to wear a tie. I don’t believe that for a second. It doesn’t add up. You’re telling me the Head Coach, who spent all summer defending his QB for acting like a 6-year old in the Super Bowl post-game press conference, to the point where he suggested the NFL change it’s policy in regard to interviewing the losing QB of that football game, has now – on a whim – decided to take a stand against him for a dress code violation? I don’t believe it. I don’t have specific evidence to support this opinion, but the evidence also doesn’t align to support the story that was told.
Within his explanation of these bizarre circumstances, Cam said he wore similar outfits on road previous road trips prior to this point, free of consequences.
There’s more to this story. I’m not sure if we’ll ever get all of the pieces to put this one together. Maybe we will. Maybe we won’t. But, as it currently stands, it just doesn’t fit.
The fact that Ron Rivera, a staunch advocate for Cam Newton in every single case up until now, and a self-proclaimed “Players Coach” felt strongly enough he needed to send this message to one of the captains on the team, is – at the very least – troubling. That is not something a “players coach” does, unless he knows he’s losing control.
This team has been entirely undisciplined every step of the way, and that includes Cam Newton. This season is certainly not all on the shoulders of Cam, and they’ve been incredibly unfortunate in a number of ways, but it’s hard to ignore the level that he’s contributed to its failures.
A locker room that was seemed inseparable a season ago now seems fractured and dysfunctional. Last night proved, once again, that the 2016 season is a lost cause, but a very important question remains – Can those currently in place be the ones to successfully pick up the pieces to construct a successful product in 2017. I believe they can, but these most recent incidents have me questioning if that’s legitimately possible for the first time this year.
It may not be time to bail on this regime, but that feeling of unbridled optimism surrounding the future of this franchise and its potential has seemingly been dismantled throughout the first 12 games of this year. That’s a very difficult thing to do. It may even be more difficult than getting back to the Super Bowl the year after losing it. I guess we’ll never know.
For now, the shattered season shouldn’t cost those in charge their jobs, but it certainly has shortened their respective leashes. One thing is for sure, the plot for the 2017 season just got whole lot thicker.