Who are the Carolina Panthers in reality?
We all know what they are trying to be and how they see themselves. Carolina sees itself as a young, balanced team that has the potential to contend in the NFC.
But the thing is:
The way that the Panthers operate especially, on offense doesn’t align with how they see themselves, and…..
Potential only means that you’re doing nothing now.
The Panthers having no identity on offense isn’t anything new at all. I’m willing to say that they never really had a sustainable identity on offense at anytime during the history of the team. Think about it, when the team began play in 1995, they established themselves defensively. Before becoming the first head coach in Panthers’ history, Dom Capers was the defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers. After getting Capers, all of the moves that Carolina made in the early years were defensive-minded.
Twenty-six years later and despite trying to lean into the offense more with coach Rhule and Coordinator Joe Brady, it is, more often than not the defense that is winning games. If the defense isn’t winning them games, conservative check-downs to Christian McCaffrey is. Now don’t get me wrong, CMC is their best player on that side of the ball and he should get the lion’s share of usage, but there’s an over-reliance on him which makes it seem as if despite the potential and talent of DJ Moore for example, and the receiving corps around him, CMC is the only thing they have offensively…and it’s not true.
What will help the Panthers develop an identity on offense is realizing that they need protection. They need competent offensive linemen and to realize that today’s game has more of an emphasis on passing and deep routes. Moore, et al proved that they can run those deep routes and accumulate even more yards after the catch. They may also need to revisit their need at quarterback. Sam Darnold is not the long-term solution here. Carolina doesn’t need a ‘manager,’ they need a quarterback who wins. And honestly, they also need an offensive coordinator who is not afraid to take risks.
The Panthers have an identity crisis. They are well aware of it. What they can do about it, however, continues to remain to be seen.