What it means: I’ve never been sure exactly what the point of no return is for an NFL team. Now, I know. It’s 1-5. That’s what the Panthers are and their season is officially over. There are no miracles coming from a team that came into the season with so much promise, but has produced nothing but disappointment. Coupling some key injuries (Ryan Kalil, Jon Beason, Chris Gamble) with a four-game losing streak, the Panthers have the snowball effect going and it’s about to turn into an avalanche. You can go ahead and put general manager Marty Hurney and coach Ron Rivera on the hot seat. Owner Jerry Richardson likes them both, but his patience is wearing very thin because he’s shelled out big-money salaries, but hasn’t had a winning season since 2008.
Don’t blame the officials: Yeah, I know there were three questionable calls or non-calls late in the game. But the Panthers can’t put the blame for this one on anyone else but themselves because they simply didn't make enough plays to win. If they’d played anywhere near their potential at home against a mediocre team, they would have come away with a victory that might have kept their season alive. They didn’t get the job done.
What happened to the offense? The main reason there was so much excitement about the Panthers coming into the season was because Cam Newton had great statistics as a rookie last season and the Panthers, with coordinator Rob Chudzinski, had the most entertaining offense in franchise history. I know a lot of people are saying other teams have caught on to what Newton does and doesn’t do well. There may be some truth in that. But, more than anything, I see an offensive scheme that’s not nearly as imaginative or daring as it was last season. You must be able to score more than 14 points if you expect to win.
What’s next: The Panthers play at Chicago next Sunday.