At 4-10 on the year, it’s safe to say that the Carolina Panthers will not make the postseason. It’s also safe to say that the result was to be expected and the team was going to go through a transition period with the new regime.
However, Panthers owner David Tepper wants a winning squad on the field sooner rather than later, and there shouldn’t be any more excuses or benefits of the doubt next season.
Since their season is theoretically over, now is a better time than any to prepare for next season. This squad, despite going through growing pains, won’t be any better next year if things remain the same. So, a fix is in order, and here are some suggestions as to how the Panthers can fix themselves and become more than just a competitive team next season.
New General Manager
On Monday, the Panthers’ decided not to renew General Manager Marty Hurney’s contract, and that in itself is a step in the right direction. During his second tenure with the Panthers, Hurney’s made more missteps than not. Among them are:
Not reaching new deals with Curtis Samuel and Taylor Morton.
Letting James Bradberry walk.
The length of Teddy Bridgewater’s contract.
Now that Carolina has a true opportunity to a clean slate, they must capitalize on it and hire a general manager whp is progressive and in touch with the modern game and what is required to compete in it. According to Cat Scratch Reader, the Panthers should take a look at Samir Sulemann (Director of Player Negotiations- Panthers), Dan Morgan (Director of Player Personnel -Bills), and Mike Borgonzi (Director of Player Personnel-Chiefs)
For the sake of continuity and familiarity, the choice would naturally point to Sulemann. However, I believe that Morgan or Borgonzi might be the best options, because they have experience in shaping contenders in recent seasons and an outsider’s perspective may be what this team needs.
A Change in Offensive Playcalling
Teddy Bridgewater is to blame for a chunk of the Panthers’ ineptitude on offense, but he is not the only culprit. Granted Joe Brady is new and it’s pertinent to err on the side of caution as a new coordinator and also cater to the strengths of the quarterback. Bridgewater’s completion percentage is 69.8 and was as high as 76 percent, the fact that a bulk of his completions are two yard check downs should be amplified more than what it’s been. It’s not really a reach to say that Bridgewater’s number and Brady’s conservative play calling are linked. Next season with a healthy Christian McCaffrey, Brady should be more aggressive in his play calling, since he has a dual threat back and receivers in Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore who are threats from deep. In order to do that, the Panthers might have to pivot from Bridgewater, which leads me to.
There are two types of quarterbacks in this league – winners and game managers. For most of the season, Bridgewater has been more of a manager than a winner – only doing just enough to hold a lead and not enough to win. If he’s not doing that, he’s freelancing . Once again, PJ Walker is available. He has shown during his performance against the Lions that he’s worth another look . If the Panthers don’t want to go with Walker, it wouldn’t hurt to sign an affordable free agent QB to come in and compete for the starting job if they’re unable to address that need in the draft.