The Best and Worst of Amazon’s “All or Nothing” Carolina Panthers (Episode #6/8)
Well, now it’s Amazon’s turn to show us what they got. The past week or so, we looked at the BEST and WORST of HBOs’ Hard Knocks (2018 Cleveland). We have the 2018 (season) Carolina ‘All or Nothing’ (2019 release) to review – eight episodes. I’ll watch and review each episode over the next week or so.
Typically, I like the Amazon production better than the HBO…but I like them both. A look behind the scenes that I still cannot believe the NFL allows to happen because it exposes how silly these people (coaches and GMs) look in real life/real time. And I’ve watched/reviewed them all…and they’re all the same nonsense management – except Sean McVay…you could tell right away he was different.
Let’s see what we have with the BEST and WORST of Amazon’s Carolina Panthers’ 2018 season!
Last episode, the Panthers just got stomped by the Steelers. Just a bad game that they take in stride. Unfortunately, what they don’t know is that this loss kicks off a seven-game losing streak, sinking a season that looked very promising within their 6-2 start. At this stage of the documentary…everything is fine. It’s about to not be.
Let’s see what happens when a team is riding high and then undergoes a massive losing streak by looking at the BEST and WORST of episode #6…
BEST: Ron Rivera, again…’$%#& happens’
The Panthers lose badly to Pittsburgh on Thursday Night Football, and Rivera is once again the steady hand. Peppered by the media about the loss, Rivera just honestly tells them...”$#&% happens.”
The media is hysterical, the rabid fans are ridiculous as always…any time THEIR football team loses a game it’s like a piece of the team beat writers/fans dies. It’s one of the most bizarre things on our planet. I’d have a hard time explaining to an advanced alien race why people have their days-weeks-years ruined by the outcome of their football team. Heaven forbid someone say something against anything to do with THEIR team. A caller will call into local radio shows all week and have great game plans the team SHOULD’VE done after a loss. Ron Rivera sums it up with “$#%& happens.” It’s brilliant.
Unfortunately, a lot of $#&% is about to happen for Carolina…
WORST: Devin Funchess, awful WR
Basically, this whole episode is about Funchess and with good reason/it’s very compelling.
We get three segments dealing with Funchess…and none of them make Funchess look good at all. It does make 2-3 other people look good, but for Funchess…it’s not good/lethal (and now he’s on Indianapolis…no coincidence).
1) We start with Funchess screaming at QB coach Scott Turner during practice for not calling a play fast enough. Funchess has to be separated from getting his hands on Turner.
Credit to Turner…he doesn’t antagonize the situation. Credit to Rivera, he and Turner go over and calm Funchess down. We find out Funchess had a cousin just die and he apologizes for his emotions. It makes you give Funchess the benefit of the doubt, but he’s going to lose that benefit soon after.
2) Carolina goes to Detroit (and loses). It was a last play loss kinda game. In reality, the Panthers should’ve blown the Lions out. The problem – Funchess drops 3-4 passes in the 1st-half of this game/loss. I don’t mean got a fingertip on the ball and the TV announcers scream DROP (because it’s their favorite thing to do, because they’re idiots)…I mean, Funchess is dropping easy/normal passes. He really did cost them the game…in a sense, in a big/obvious sense.
3) Carolina loses the game on a last second ‘go for two’ attempt to win down 20-19. Post-game, we see Funchess getting interviewed and he is acting as bizarre as ever. He’s trying to make the case to the media that ‘everyone’ (on the team) lost the game, that he wasn’t the only guy out there. The media isn’t having it because Funchess was so awful in the game. Funchess could have took it on his shoulders, looked magnanimous and gained sympathy -- but instead he gets confrontational and deflecting.
His bizarre week, and general weak play, and his demeanor will soon get him benched and gone from the team. Last year’s (2017) #1 WR for the team…this year’s (2018) bust. Now, he’s Indy’s problem (2019).
Three people have cause/effect from this Funchess situation that I want to point out…
BEST: Cam Newton, mature leader
When Funchess goes off on the QB coach, we later see Cam Newton having him aside in a meeting room and trying to calm him down, pump up his confidence, but also put him in his place/not taking his crap. It was a thin line to dance on between rah-rah and getting onto him to help him…Cam did it well.
In the Detroit game, when Funchess is falling apart…Cam is over to the bench trying to get him back in mentally (whereas Philip Rivers would be flapping his arms and making as ass of himself complaining about everything and everybody). And Cam keeps going to an open Funchess until he couldn’t anymore in the Detroit game.
I was either wrong all along, or Cam has found a new level of maturity. Something is different about Cam. Gone is the constant sulker. Arrived is the solid/decent leader.
I’m shocked and pleased to see it. The 2019 Panthers’ schedule is brutal. They need a steady hand to try to navigate it.
BEST: Curtis Samuel, THEY FINALLY MENTIONED HIS NAME!!
While Funchess is falling apart, Curtis Samuel is on fire. He makes another ‘catch of the year’ type play for a TD in the Detroit game while Funchess drops everything.
The following game, Funchess is ruled out with a back injury…and Samuel steps up again with a great game and TD. This was the moment Samuel started to take the reigns as starter.
Amazon has yet to profile or discuss Curtis Samuel in anyway, which I can’t be too mad about…Christian McCaffrey has been ignored most of this series as well. However, they are missing two great stories/angles. At least, they’ve stopped with all the Greg Olsen focus.
BEST/WORST: Ron Rivera, admirable or misplaced loyalty
Rivera has a great moment with Funchess after the incident of him yelling at the QB coach. A real human moment where Rivera coulda just whooped his ass/fined him/suspended him, but instead cooled him down and talked him through it like a real, caring person.
Later, in the episode, when the Panthers scored late to get down by one (20-19) late to Detroit, Rivera went for two…in part, because Graham Gano has been missing a lot of kicks and XPs lately, including in this game. It was kind of an easy decision. But Cam misses a wide-open receiver for the 2-pointer/win, throwing it 5+ yards over his head.
Of course, the reason coaches don’t go for two more is that when you DON’T convert, Joe six-pack fan goes berserk and blames the coach all week…and the media loves to find misery and twist the knife all week as well. If a kicker misses an XP for a loss, it’s on the stupid kicker…per the fans/media. A blown 2-pointer is the coach’s fault for being stupid in strategy. Us fans force NFL coaches to be a bunch of nervous, uptight, non-riverboat gamblers.
Fan stupidity and arrogance was captured in one small moment when Rivera called for two, the next thing we see is video from a private suite where Funchess’s family is watching the game and one of the geniuses there is incredulous at the ‘going for two’ and not going for the extra point/tie -- as he proudly exclaims…”Why isn’t he going for the field goal?” Exactly, idiot.
Also, bonus points to Cam – Cam missed the 2-pointer to win the Detroit game. He started to run but then Jarius Wright breaks open in front of him, but Cam can’t set his feet and throws one 5+ yards over his head. Cam takes the blame and takes it all in-stride in the post-game, and during the film study with the QB coach, and on the streets serving Thanksgiving meals as the destitute lightly tease him about it. Cam’s a totally different person, so far, than I have been used to seeing. Might be a changed man…might be great editing. However, this whole series has been questionably produced and they love controversy…so if there was ‘bad Cam’ I’m sure they’d show it.
Within this episode #6, Carolina loses to Detroit and Seattle and falls to 6-5…a three-game losing streak heading into next episode (#7). It’s about to get ever uglier. Let’s see if I stick by my Ron and Cam praise or if they lose it during the tough times with next time’s BEST and WORST of episode #7…
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