Saturday, October 4, 2014

Bears versus Carolina Panters: Who Are the Carolina Panthers? How about Tomorrow's Game?

The Carolina Panthers became the 29th NFL franchise in 1993.  Founder Jerry Richardson had been working on establishing a franchise for the Carolinas since 1987. Like other franchise efforts, politicians lobbied and fans showed their enthusiasm by demonstrating a ticket-buying commitment.  Preseason games were sold out in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Columbia.  Plans were made to privately finance a stadium and good faith efforts were made that demonstrated a true commitment by the community to buy club seats, luxury boxes and more. 

The Carolina Panthers are in the NFC South and began playing in 1995.  In their second season they went 12-4.  In 2003, they reached the Super Bowl and lost to the New England Patriots, 32-29.  The Panthers own the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte and conduct their training camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  The Carolinas have a very large growing population that is currently over 14.6 million. North Carolina now has a larger population than New Jersey. 

Ron Rivera was hired as head coach in 2011 and the Panthers picked up Cam Newton in the draft.  Rivera’s Panthers made in the playoffs last year and lost to the 49ers in the division match.  
Rivera was a popular linebacker for the Chicago Bears from 1984-1992.  He was linebacker coach with the Eagles and defensive coordinator for the Bears and the Chargers before he took on the head coaching position with Carolina.  He is one of four Bears from the 1985 championship team who have gone into coaching—others are Leslie Fraser and Mike Singletary--and Jeff Fisher who was on injured reserve for the 1985 Bears season and worked as an assistant to Buddy Ryan. 

The Carolina Panthers are an expansion team that was instantly competitive.  They have a good fan base and a good number of transplants to the Carolinas who follow other teams as well.  

Tomorrow's Game

When the Bears meet the Carolina Panthers tomorrow, they will be up against a good team that has struggled recently due to injuries.  While the Packers beat the Bears, 38-17, last weekend, the Ravens whacked the Panthers, 38-10.  Quarterback Cam Newton has been playing with sore ribs and an ankle injury that has kept him from running with the ball—a big strength for the QB from Auburn who has run for over 700 yards in two of his seasons.  The offensive line has also struggled and injuries to their running backs have stacked up. 

However, the Panthers seem more concerned with the defense.  
Ron Rivera, the Panthers’ head coach, loves a tough defense. But the Panthers have been having a hard time against the run recently and that’s Rivera’s biggest concern going into the Bears game. Rivera is looking for improvements, but like a lot of coaches at this time of the year, he states that it’s not time to panic.  He suggests that it’s more a matter of players doing their part—that some of the problems stem from defenders taking unnecessary chances and moving outside their position. 

The Bears-Panters game will feature two very good quarterbacks. Jay Cutler leads the 2-2 Bears into the game with a 65.8% completion rate and a QB rating of 94.7.  Cam Newton brings his 2-2 Panthers into the game with a 63.8% completion rate and a QB rating of 98.2. 
The Panthers know that a healthy Cam Newton can do so much more. 

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