Lauren Brownlow

Sad Panthers Fan fine with Week 1, dreads Week 2

Posted September 12

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) runs against San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster (56) during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

So the Panthers' opening week was without disaster! And believe me, I wasn't so sure it would end that way for a minute. Cam Newton was out there looking like Christian Hackenberg (wait, is throwing just two passes in the preseason bad?), Brian Hoyer (BRIAN HOYER) and Cleveland's -- er, San Francisco's -- offense was moving up and down the field with relative ease at first, and things looked meh to bad. But Cam started looking like Cam again, Brian Hoyer looked all Brian Hoyer-y again and all was right with the world.

Brian Hoyer is why I hate all of you Cam haters so much.

Don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, as the old saying goes, and there are way too many Panthers' fans out there who seem to want to nitpick everything Cam Newton does rather than realize we have it better than so many NFL fanbases, and SO much better than we've EVER had it. Jake Delhomme had a nice thing going for a hot minute, and Steve Beuerlein had some success. Other than that, most of the QBs we've watched have been a pile of trash. Is Cam perfect? Not even close. Is he so much better than I could have ever dreamed we'd have at QB? Yes. Shut up.

Am I overly sensitive about it? Maybe. Did I snap at my own father while on Facetime with him at halftime because he mentioned Cam was sailing throws and tell him he should go back to watching late-career Delhomme? I can't confirm or deny this.

But that gets me back to Hoyer. In a league where creatures like a Scott Tolzien and a Trevor Siemian are NFL starters, and Josh McCown stays getting jobs in spite of turning it over like he's shaving points, Hoyer is relatively inoffensive. He's an Ikea couch. He'll be comfortable enough, but you're going to get a bad back if you have to lean on him a lot. But it's better than having no furniture.

Me? I'll take the leopard skin, plush couch that is Cameron Jerrell Newton.

The Weapon is secure. And other inoffensive offensive notes.

When Christian McCaffrey took one of his first NFL regular-season carries and decided to dance with it in the backfield instead of carry it forward, I was admittedly worried. (Or I screamed at the TV, "YOU'RE NOT ON DANCING WITH THE STARS YET, HOLLYWOOD!" which caused my 14-month-old to stare at me in horror, either one.) Is this what the future will be? WAS the preseason of McCaffrey just an elaborate tease? THIS is why I don't let myself believe.

But I am, admittedly, intrigued. Did McCaffrey light it up statistically? Nah. He had 13 rushes for 47 yards (3.6 per carry) and five catches for 38 yards. And he lost a fumble. But ...

Between that, him adjusting to Cam's scrambling so Cam could find him for a first down at one point, and what I saw in the preseason ... I'm letting myself become something close to optimistic. And as often as the Panthers used him, they also used him as a decoy a few times to some success. What I'm saying, Mike Shula, is that I'M LISTENING. SHOW ME MORE PLEASE. (And a very late hello to Russell Shepard! It was weird to see a guy wearing the number 19 make a catch in the open field.)

Of course, leave it to Charlotte's own Steph Curry to bring me down.

He has a point. We've all had that Christmas toy that we wore out within a month because we didn't listen to our parents and kept using it and using it and using it. Let's not break this one so quickly, yeah?

Side note: I have decided that Jonathan Stewart is my favorite running back in Panthers history. I just love watching him run, love the way he makes something out of nothing, love the way he fights for that extra yard or two. I am so excited to see him with a true complementary back this season, and I just am crossing every body part I can that he can stay healthy.

Cam's inaccuracy early in the game stood out even more, by the way, because of the time he had to throw the ball. Which was weird and exhilarating. It's just the 49ers, but I am HERE for stats like this one:

It was weird without Ronde Barber on the call. And by weird I mean wonderful.

I will say this, though. This announcing crew was on the struggle bus. At one point, they said McCaffrey was getting a lot of touches because it was his homecoming game. He did go to so school at Stanford, but he's from Denver. And he was getting a lot of touches because he's the No. 8 overall pick. Then they said McCaffrey had "by far" the most touches of anyone on the team when Stewart had more.

Ronde was, at times, a good-luck charm for this team. But if having him on the call means big wins, I'll take it. And honestly, I missed him a little. I missed letting that anger he provoked in me flow freely through my veins.

It's Carolina Jr. Week!


Buffalo, in case you don't know, has decided to break from tradition in making just their own fanbase miserable and add ours to the mix, too. Remember when the Panthers fired GM Dave Gettleman right before the season? Well, it might have been easier to promote from within had the Bills -- now coached by former Panthers' defensive coordinator Sean McDermott -- not hired the associate GM, Brandon Beane. They snatched up Kaelin Clay and Joe Webb (particularly offensive to the Joe Webb-lovers in North Carolina) as soon as they could this offseason.

Oh, and Mike Tolbert is on their roster and is evidently a huge part of their run game. And the huge isn't about his weight.

They're going to know the Panthers really well, and this game makes me incredibly nauseous. You know another reason that it makes me nauseous?

I can't even talk about it, so I'll just leave this here.

If nothing else, like that game led to the birth of Riverboat Ron, maybe this game will lead to the ... rebirth?


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