I’ve been a fan of the team since its inception. I’ve belonged to fan groups and have owned season tickets. I get to my seat early, get loud on defense, and stay quiet on offense. I’ve never sold my tickets to an opposing fan base. This season, I was excited for the start of a new era of Panther football, but I also knew there were going to be growing pains. I didn’t panic after the bad start and still thought we picked the right QB. I even bought new gear to wear on game days to switch up the mojo.

All this to say, I’ve been about as diehard and, I believe, understanding a fan as possible. But now I’m worn out. I just don’t see anything to be excited about or to have hope for.

Going into the year, I thought we had this awesome All-Star coaching staff, pass catchers who weren’t flashy or big-time names but could do the job and provide different skill sets, and, most importantly, a stout and intact OL to protect our new franchise QB. None of those things have panned out.

We have one consistent WR who is 33 years old, our coaching staff can’t scheme anyone open and doesn’t appear to have any trust in letting the first overall pick throw downfield, and, most disappointingly, our OL has been a sieve in pass protection and can’t get any push for running the ball. Our first-round pick from the year before has completely regressed and looks just like the LTs we’ve had since Jordan Gross retired.

On defense, I can respect the job they’ve done with all the injuries, but we’re still just uninspiring. Our best two players on that side of the ball and on the team are out of contract following the conclusion of the year. Why would either want to come back? We don’t scare anyone off the edges outside of Brian Burns, and watching the game on Thursday, I kept asking, “Who is that guy?!” whenever I saw our defensive backs. Our other first-rounder on that side of the ball can’t play two games in a row.

To have any hope of competing, we need to re-sign Burns and Frankie Luvu, upgrade the other edge, get new CBs, get better pass catchers, and upgrade the OL. All premium positions every other team wants to get better at too. We also don’t have draft capital and have shown no ability to get talent in the later rounds, and our free-agent pickups have been largely terrible.

Sorry for the diatribe, but it’s how I feel and probably how a lot of other long-time fans feel. I don’t want to listen to sports radio/podcasts; I don’t want to read articles, and I don’t even have the draft to look forward to for top prospects we could pick.

So all this to get to my question. Help? How do I and others not just become apathetic and stop caring altogether? — Tyler, Matthews, NC

As Mailbag questions go, that’s some Patrick Henry stuff right there, except he got tired of waiting for liberty, and just accepted death. Or something. And every now and then, people need to vent.

I get it. I do. No matter what you thought they were going to do this year, this ain’t it. In any way. 

But one thing I learned a long time ago from a wise football man was that when everything’s going wrong all at once, you have to be careful evaluating individual parts. As irresponsible as it would be to suggest a way they could still make the playoffs, it’s as irresponsible to suggest there’s no hope ever. (Although I say it here all the time, I’m not in the hope business; that’s between you and your maker.) 

There are some good players here. There are some that will get better when you put more around them. There are some that might develop into something more. We could make a list, but that’s not the point. The point is, this year is about getting better on offense, helping the quarterback progress, and laying the foundation for what’s to come in the future. 

Also, for a guy who doesn’t want to read the articles, my guy Tyler just sent me a 500-word email that practically is one. So, since he’s not reading this one, he missed the fact he’d have been this week’s Friend Of The Mailbag. Shame. He’d have looked good in the merch, I bet.