The Panthers had the honour of being covered by NFL Films in 2018 for the fourth series of All Or Nothing. While it looked so promising early in the year, as we all know, it only made the struggles of the second half of the year harder to watch. It’s personal preference but in all honesty, I prefer watching teams struggle on All Or Nothing, good teams can easily feel like a pin off of America’s Game but seeing teams struggle reminds you that ultimately 31 teams’ seasons end in disappointment. Here are our top moments:
Greg Olsen’s Agony
The anticipation was there, Greg Olsen was going to return and be the focal point in the Panthers’ offence. He was pumped to be back and just like that it was all gone. Olsen was a real character and doesn’t hide his emotions, whether it’s excitement to play, having fun with the guys or frustration coaching his son’s little league team. And the moment he got injured week one, he knew he’d broken his foot once again. It was heart wrenching.
Luckily we got the opportunity to see hope return for Olsen that he could avoid surgery and return to play, only to see the Panthers’ struggle set in and another injury end his year.
Player’s Views on Eric Reid
All Or Nothing proved that players aren’t bothered what you do off the field. Off course they all lined up to support Reid once he signed but seeing Cam Newton and the coaching staff view Reid as an asset rather than a protester was refreshing. It makes you wonder why everyone was so concerned signing Reid in the first place.
David Tepper was an unexpected star of the series. Despite being involved with the Steelers for years, he was all in on the Panthers and like a nervous five year old for the season opener. To see someone so successful in their line of work, particularly given his analytical background, lose his nerve watching sports was shocking, but we’ve all been there.
Every Game Matters
We all thought it at the time but it was interesting to see Panthers shrug off their 52-21 season to Pittsburgh as “it happens”. Little did they know that this was what allowed the rot to set in. While games can get away from you, it’s important to keep momentum because it’s much harder when it’s working against you. Much like the week six loss to Washington where Carolina nearly won despite copious errors, it proved that no loss is meaningless.
Had Ron Rivera spotted the errors in the Steelers loss, would there have been less to repair in the coming weeks? And would the Panthers have made the playoffs? We’ll never know.
As I said at the start, watching a team struggle can be fascinating, as was the stark difference between the first nine weeks of the season and the last eight. You saw the hope fade away, the bounce and energy dissipate and desperation set in as various methods failed, by players, position coaches and even a hands-on Ron Rivera. It was an engaging tragedy but ultimately it saw the season end in failure, made all the more dramatic by the emphasis of the retiring veterans on the roster. The avoidance of week 17’s win over the Saints avoided a false happy ending.
Once again, NFL Films produced gripping television with the Panthers’ unique 2018 storyline. With a lot of experience gone, they will need to build as a younger team but it’s hard to see them lacking motivation and energy while Cam Newton’s around. That said, collapses like 2018 are a black mark Head Coach Ron Rivera can’t avoid.