Beautiful or Ugly, Carolina's Victory Over Chicago is Sweet

Yesterday after the game was over and the Carolina Panthers defeated Ron Rivera's old stomping grounds, the Chicago Bears, I had posted to social media something along the lines of "That was about as ugly a win as I've seen, but they all count the same in the end."

Nobody argued about the second half of that statement; they had plenty of ammo to throw my way at the first part.

While many agreed with my assessment, a vociferous and large minority of people took issue with it to the point of saying things like "you're not a TRUE fan" or similar comments while others just went to downright inappropriateness with name-calling.

Uh, this is the NFL, supposed to be fun. This is NOT politics, so get a freakin' grip, people!

Why was it not a "beautiful" or "pretty" win? 

In my mind, lots of reasons. For one, we turned the ball over three times and played sloppy football, allowing those 3 turnovers to become 21 Bears points. 

That ain't pretty!

Kelvin Benjamin had multiple dropped passes as well, including coughing up a fumble for one of those three turnovers.

That ain't pretty!

The Panthers, a supposedly power-running team playing against one of the weaker defensive units in the NFL, averaged a paltry 3.3 yards per carry over the entire game.

That ain't pretty!

Certainly, on that last part, there were extenuating circumstances, but I'm talking about the product on the field on Sunday, October 5th, 2014 at Bank of America Stadium. Under the circumstances, 3.3 YPC isn't horrible but it did help to show our deficiencies in the offensive line.

When I'm critical, it's usually for a reason. Go back and check if you wish and look for whatever I've said about the offensive tackles.

For the learning impaired, I'll say it for an nth + 1 time....we desperately need two new offensive tackles!

That ain't pretty!

It also wasn't in the cards in the draft and Dave Gettleman tried to gloss it over saying "sometimes the answer is right there on your roster."

However, what he didn't say was "...and sometimes it's NOT!"

I think by now we ALL know the answer to that one. It's not.

Do I blame Byron Bell and Nate Chandler for continued sub-par play? Nope. Not at all. In fact, I respect them as much as I respect anyone on the team, period.

Why's that you ask?

Because they're both playing out of position, that's why. They're asked to do more than what they're really capable of doing. 

When a player enters the NFL and doesn't get drafted, it's usually for a good reason. Undrafted players rarely become stars in the NFL, and just off the top of my head I think, for instance, that ex-Denver Bronco Rod Smith is the #1 undrafted wide receiver in NFL history in terms of catches, yards, and TDs, but he's probably not going to be on anyone's top-ten or top-twenty list of all-time greats at the position. I think Wes Welker just broke the receptions record in the "undrafted" category this weekend, but the point remains.

Now that the stage is set, keep in mind that we don't have a single offensive tackle taken in any draft!

That ain't pretty!

And it shows. I can't blame Byron Bell for putting in hard work, being an upstanding guy, and doing what the coaches tell him to do to the best of his ability. He simply doesn't have the lateral agility required to defeat today's athletic pass-rushers.

Nate Chandler went undrafted as a defensive tackle, was switched to offensive tackle last season, and now is the starter on the right side.

I knew for a fact that we were in trouble at both positions when talk began after the draft of moving Bell from the right side to being Cam Newton's blind-side bodyguard. The fact that some people are blaming CAM and calling for Derek Anderson to start are not so informed, I think.

Under a lot of negative circumstances - ankle and rib injuries, shaky play across the entire offensive line, and an entirely new crop of wide receivers this year, Cam is doing better than pretty much anyone could be thought of doing when the season began.

The Panthers didn't play well in the first half against Chicago, but the team hung in there, played all four quarters, and came out victorious. You learn more through adversity than you do through success, and that's why Super Bowl-winning teams have almost always faced some sort of adversity before they won The Big Game. 

Seattle? They had to hunt a short QB in the draft. Baltimore? They had to get hot late in the season just to make the playoffs at 10-6. The year before that, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl with a 9-7 regular season record, so there's always some "ugliness" teams have to go through in order to win the Super Bowl, folks.

Even the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins had adversity. First of all, they lost their starting QB, Bob Griese, for most of the year to a broken leg. The previous season, they lost the Super Bowl and remain the only team in NFL history NOT to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Look it up.

The point of all this is to show with historical data that arguing over something like whether or not any given win is "pretty" or not is just lame. The manner in which the Panthers won yesterday wasn't perfect, but with guidance and rational thinking, they'll learn from the mistakes they did make, become a better team for it, and be that much better off in the long run. And when the difference in a game could be said to be a punt that was interfered with which the return man picked up after the fact and returned for a touchdown?

That ain't pretty!

It's a heads-up play, however, and one I'll take all day. It isn't something fans should count on each week - especially since it happened to be Carolina's first punt return TD in 11 years!

With 31 other teams in the NFL looking to improve every week, the Carolina Panthers have coaches and players that are well aware that if you're not getting better, you're getting worse. Ron Rivera himself said that one of the most disappointing things about the game defensively was that a couple of Chicago's big plays came as a result of missed tackles. That is something that needs to be worked on and is correctable, according to the Head Coach. He spoke about the "need for being sound in our run gaps." Offensively, he said they have to block better. 

Does this mean Ron Rivera isn't a "true Panthers fan?"

COME on, fans! It counts in the "W" column at the end of the year, and that's really all that matters. 


Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye