CHARLOTTE -- There are a million reasons the Panthers were bad this year, but one of the bedrock causes was the extreme lack of standout individual performances.
Looking back on the season, and it's easy to understand why the Panthers were 7-9, non-descript in nearly every way. They had no Pro Bowlers (and just three third alternates), marking the first time since expansion 1995 that no Panther went to Hawaii.
That's largely because no one did anything worth noticing.
The Panthers had just one 300-yard passing game, when Jake Delhomme aired it out against Houston. Come to think of it, they had just four 200-yard passing efforts (with Vinny Testaverde getting two, Matt Moore one and David Carr none). None of their many quarterbacks reached 1,000 yards for the season. Thus burdened, Steve Smith barely got to 1,000 receiving yards (1,002), but was 23rd in the league in his signature category.
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There were three 100-yard rushing games, with DeShaun Foster getting 122 at Atlanta (figures) and DeAngelo Williams 121 at Arizona and Tampa Bay. There were five 100-yard receiving days, four by Smith and one by Drew Carter in Green Bay.
The Panthers didn't return a punt or a kickoff for a score, and the only two defensive scores (by Ken Lucas and Richard Marshall) were lost in a sea of mediocrity. There were only three multiple-sack games by individuals, with Mike Rucker getting two against San Francisco, Damione Lewis' pair at Tennessee and Julius Peppers and his 1.5 at Arizona.
In fact, the biggest surprise is that anyone got any recognition.
Quarterback Matt Moore was named offensive rookie of the month for December and linebacker Jon Beason was second in defensive rookie of the year voting -- a miracle that anyone noticed them.
The Panthers did stand out in one area. They were the only team in the NFL to fail to have a single player earn a player of the week award, which each conference gives for offense, defense and special teams.
That's a total of 102 for the year (since they give six per week for 17 weeks), but the Panthers were the only team completely shut out.
With luminaries such as Atlanta quarterback Chris Redman and Miami's Cleo Lemon getting one, it only underscores the insult. Of course, if any of the Panthers would have had single games worth mentioning, it might have helped.
• FIRST COACHING MOVE: The first shoe fell last week, and more may come later (though maybe not as many as some think).
Assistant special teams coach Tony Levine left the Panthers to join new coach Kevin Sumlin's staff at the University of Houston. Sumlin was Levine's position coach at the University of Minnesota in the mid-1990s. Levine will coach tight ends and special teams for the Cougars.
His departure wasn't the first many people would expect, particularly in the special teams area. But the Panthers have typically waited to make such moves. Last year, it was 15 days after the season before they fired offensive coordinator Dan Henning and two others.
They use the first week after the season to evaluate players and then give coaches the next week off.
So, if you're waiting for heads to roll, be patient.
• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers are going to bring back a handful of this year's practice squad players with future deals, expected to be finished early this week.
Running back DeCori Birmingham has already signed his one-year deal, and wide receiver Chris Hannon (who might have been the fastest guy on the roster last year) will sign next week, along with a few others. Expect them to keep fullback Billy Latsko, tight end Marcus Freeman and guard Rueben Riley, who they carried on the practice squad all year. ...
Former Panthers announcer Bill Rosinski's television show will be available on local outlets in the coming weeks.
"Sportsnight with Bill Rosinski," a periodic interview show, will begin airing on Comporium Cable channel 14 at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday. The first show will be a replay of a previously taped episode about former Panthers safety Mike Minter, and later episodes (including one with pro wrestling star Ric Flair) will follow.