It’s Week Six, and the Panthers Have a Head Coach Problem
It is officially week six of the 2023 NFL season, and the Panthers have, to put it lightly, stunk.
They continue to show that they are one of the most dysfunctional franchises in the NFL and have been since their inauguration in 1995.
Despite making two Super Bowls, Carolina has never had back-to-back winning seasons, even with Cam Newton, who, regardless of collegiate alliance, was an elite quarterback during his prime.
From Jerry Richardson and the disgusting workplace environment he fostered in Carolina to the bumbling hire of former head coach Matt Rhule, it has all boiled down to this: the breaking point. The breaking point of the fans, the city, the states, and even the players. The abysmal four-game showing of a Panthers' team captained by Frank Reich.
Before we dive into the article, this is in no way intended to slander Bryce Young. he is a rookie going through the transition from college to the pros, and with that, there are expected growing pains that a lucky few don't experience. I believe Young has been off to a fine start with all things considered; he is simply hindered by lackluster talent and playcalling around him.
Through five games, Carolina ranks 22th in total yards, 25th in Points/Game, and 25th in turnover differential. Now, these aren't the worst numbers compared to all 32 NFL teams, but they still lie in the league's bottom half. The problem with the Panthers isn't shown clearly in the statistics. The main problem is Frank Reich's boring and unoriginal offensive scheme.
Look at the video below. Yes, Bryce did miss a wide-open Adam Theilen in the endzone. But what is the playcall? Two double moves to the right? What is Terrace Marshall Jr. supposed to be doing? Where is the schematic advantage the Panthers supposedly got with Frank Reich and the "all-star staff" he was bringing to the Carolinas?
The playcalling isn't just vanilla; it's also conservative. The Panthers have refused to push the ball downfield, having rookie Bryce Young throw behind the line of scrimmage nearly 25% of the time.
And this isn't a schematic plan; in his last entire season in Indianapolis, Reich dialed up an average of 5.5 passes behind the line of scrimmage, compared to 8.75 passes per game through four games in Carolina, including a whopping 13 last Sunday against the Vikings.
Reich didn't even want Young. Per Joe Person of The Athletic, if Reich had his way, current New Orleans Saint Derek Carr would be quarterbacking the Carolina Panthers. Person also said that Reich originally wanted C.J. Stroud when the Panthers traded up for No. 1.
This is Frank Reich's way of throwing a temper tantrum. He didn't get what he wanted, so he turned Bryce Young into a babied quarterback. Perimeter screens and predictable runs up the middle is not what they drafted Bryce Young for, nor is it what fans and media were promised.
The worst part is that the Panthers had it right there with former interim Steve Wilks, who led an abysmal Panthers' team to a 6-6 record after the firing of Matt Rhule. Instead of a coach who was already succeeding Carolina and establishing a clear and robust culture, owner David Tepper opted for a recently fired Frank Reich.
However, this crapshoot isn't all to blame on Frank Reich. General Manager Scott Fitterer constructed this roster and made all the final trade decisions, including those for Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and D.J. Johnson. The poor structure of the Panthers' roster, ranging from lack of offensive talent to mishandling of contracts to poor drafting, has played a significant part in this awful team. Fitterer should be held accountable, too.
Reich, his staff, and the front office need to make severe changes within the team's culture and on the roster, or desks need to start being cleaned out.
For more NFL content from Simon Besnoy, follow him on X/Twitter at @Simonbez1 and stay tuned to Tide1009.com for daily news.
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