Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas
For only the third time in their history, the Carolina Panthers have started the season 0-3. The 21-7 loss to Dallas puts Carolina in jeopardy of having its season spiral out of control. The last time the Panthers started 0-3 was 1998 and coach Dom Capers was fired at the end of that season.
Here are five things I took from the Carolina game:
The seat John Fox sat in as he got on the team plane was sizzling. Fox has done a lot for the franchise, but he’s never been able to deliver back-to-back winning seasons. Patience, from fans and ownership, is wearing thin. Fox has been able to use coordinators as scapegoats in the past and he got a freebie on the 2007 season when Jake Delhomme went down early. But, this time around, Fox has his quarterback and his kind of team. There’s no excuse now.
Delhomme is not the problem. Yes, Delhomme threw two interceptions, but he had his team in the game. This wasn’t like the opener, a game in which he had to be yanked because of turnovers. Delhomme put his team in position to win if some plays were made elsewhere. They weren’t. The Panthers weren’t able to get their running game going and Delhomme’s interceptions might have been the fault of the receivers.
Didn’t the Panthers used to be a “tough’’ team? Yes, put that’s past tense now. The Cowboys ran for more than 200 yards. You’re not supposed to be able to do that against a Fox defense, but this no longer is a Fox defense. Defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu went down with an injury on the first day of camp and the Panthers didn’t have anyone to replace him. They still don’t.
Thomas Davis is the guy I feel sorry for. The guy made plays against the Cowboys and he made plays in the first two games. The fifth-year linebacker is having a Pro Bowl year. But he’s not going to get the kind of recognition he deserves if the Panthers keep losing.
I find it ironic that Julius Peppers’ nickname is “Pep’’. The guy wasn’t a source of energy Monday night. Instead, Peppers, who makes more than $1 million a game, produced two tackles, but not a single big play.