|Panthers 1sr-round draft pick Luke Keuchly|
Image Credit: Jeremy Brevard-US Presswire
However the one thing that the Panthers failed miserably at in their draft class was to address an ailing and, quite frankly, under-talented defensive secondary. With the exception of Josh Norman, a third-round pickup from Coastal Carolina, the Panthers came into 2012 with only one viable cornerback on their roster, 9-year veteran Chris Gamble. And that lack of talent has reared its ugly head throughout the season.
The Panthers started the year with a surprising 16-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team picked by most experts to be the cellar dweller in the NFC South. They followed this with an impressive home-opening win against the New Orleans Saints, who are still struggling to overcome the bounty-gate scandal and the suspensions involved.
The next stop was a Thursday night game at home against the defending Super Bowl Champions, the New York Giants. It did not go well. Cam Newton struggled and seemed completely out of it mentally in his national television debut as a professional, and Eli Manning and company cruised to a 36-7 victory. The Panthers looked like a a laughingstock through the course of this game.
The Panthers faced their fiercest division rivals next in the Atlanta Falcons down in the Georgia Dome. Although the team looked much better, it was this game in particular that highlighted the Panthers' ineptitude in the secondary. With the Panthers up 28-27 and 1:20 left on the clock, the defense had the Falcons pinned at their own 2-yard line. That's when safety Haruki Nakamura gave up a 52-yard completion to Roddy White and allowed the Falcons into position to kick the game-winning field goal. If you follow football any at all, you know the Falcons' record. And you know the outcome of this game. Falcons won 30-28.
On a cool, overcast afternoon in Charlotte, the Panthers hosted the Seattle Seahawks in a game that could have meant some vindication for the team, but the offense came up empty and the only touchdown the team managed was a pick-6 by nickel back Captain Munnerlyn. Eventually, a failed 4th-down conversion on the Seahawks' 3 yard line would prove to be the demise of the Panthers as they lost 16-12 to fall to 1-4 on the season.
So now you are up to speed. The team had a bye week in week 6 and will host the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. This is another winnable game, if the offense finally shows up and the defense can keep Tony Romo in check. But, at this point, I won't hold my breathe...