Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas
A look at the Carolina Panthers in their bye week:
What they’ve accomplished: Not very much. They’re 0-3 and everyone from coach John Fox to quarterback Jake Delhomme is on the hot seat. The Panthers spent all offseason talking about how they had 21 of 22 starters back from a playoff team. They haven’t looked anything like last year’s team. Linebacker Thomas Davis has been a bright spot, but that’s it. Delhomme got off to a horrible start, the offense has been non-functional and new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks hasn’t brought any improvement.
What’s ahead: On talent alone, it’s hard to write this team off after just three losses. And a rebound seems very possible with home games against Washington and Buffalo and a road trip to Tampa Bay after the bye. The Panthers are using their bye to try to get their defense healthy, and they finally added a wide-body defensive tackle in Hollis Thomas. Delhomme has been better the past two games than in the opener, so it’s not impossible for this team to suddenly catch its footing.
Realistic outcome: As easy as the next three games may look, don’t get too carried away with hopes for recovery because the Panthers have dug a deep hole. There’s not much margin for error and there’s little reason from what we’ve seen so far to think the Panthers can even get back to where a margin for error would matter. The offense can’t move the ball on the ground and the defense can’t stop anybody. Those are the two things a Fox team is supposed to be able to do with ease. If this continues, this won’t be Fox’s team much longer.