It's usually not fair to blame the new guy, but still…
Carolina Panthers' new special teams coordinator Richard Rodgers had about as bad of a first day on the job as possible in the Panthers' Week 11 debacle against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Carolina lost a very winnable game 27-21 in overtime with the Panthers' special teams playing a big part in the gut-wrenching loss, dropping Carolina to 2-8 on the season.
Here are three not-so-special teams moments that Rodgers cannot allow to happen again if he hopes to keep his new job and Carolina hopes to start winning again.
Captain Munnerlyn's Fumbled Punt
At this point the Panthers should take out a full-page job ad in the Charlotte Observer that reads:
Help Wanted - Professional-level punt returner who can field punts without fumbling, muffing, botching, or otherwise messing up a return.
Just over two minutes into Rodgers' new job, Captain Munnerlyn fumbled the first punt under the new special teams coordinator's watch. The fumble was recovered by Tampa Bay at the Carolina 29 yard line and the Bucs turned the possession into a go-ahead 7-0 touchdown six plays later.
Fumbled punts continue to plague the Panthers.
Munnerlyn took over punt return duties from rookie Joe Adams who has coughed up three returns on the season, losing two of his fumbles to the other team. The Panthers cannot afford to keep fumbling punts if they hope to salvage any part of this already depressing season.
Justin Medlock - Wide Right, Exit Right
The first field goal under Rodger's reign was about as successful as the first punt return.
In the second quarter the Panthers were looking to build on their 14-10 lead as kicker Justin Medlock lined up for a relatively simply 40-yard field goal.
Medlock pushed the kick right, squandering an easy three points in a game that was ultimately decided in overtime.
The Panthers responded by releasing the struggling Medlock who had missed his last three field goal attempts after starting the year 7 of 7. Carolina signed former Washington Redskins' kicker Graham Gano to replace Medlock.
Gano becomes the Panthers' third kicker in less than two years. Richard Rodgers and the Panthers had better hope Gano can do what Medlock and Olindo Mare before him could not - make field goals.
The Worst Fake Punt in Human History
Okay, calling the Panthers' unsuccessful fake punt with 12:36 left in the third quarter "the worst fake punt in human history" is perhaps being a little overly dramatic.
But just a little.
The Panthers led 14-10 early in the third as they prepared to punt from their own 41 yard line on a fourth-and-6. Carolina decided to get cute and attempted a fake punt by direct snapping to Haruki Nakamura.
Nakamura pumped as if to pass, but saw nobody open so he tucked the ball and ran. But there was nowhere to run.
The botched special teams play lost four yards, giving Tampa Bay the ball at the Carolina 36 yard line. Fortunately for the Panthers, Nakamura redeemed himself by intercepting the very next Josh Freeman pass, giving possession back to Carolina without any additional point being scored by the Bucs.
But still, the ill-timed and poorly-executed fake punt was nothing short of a disaster.
After the botched fake the Fox cameras panned to Cam Newton on the sidelines. The expression on Newton's face was one of "Are you kidding me?" as the Panthers' quarterback shook his head in painful disbelief after the terrible play.
Unless the Panthers can somehow stop killing themselves on special teams, the pain is sure to continue.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Panthers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check out these articles: