David Tepper yelled in helpless frustration as he exited the visitors’ locker room of Nissan Stadium. His Carolina Panthers just dropped to 1-10 on the season after a 17-10 loss at the hands of the Tennessee Titans.
Sunday’s loss was similar to most of the other nine losses in the season. The defense held it down. They contained Derrick Henry to 76 yards rushing and the secondary was active with deflections, and holding Tennessee’s receivers to less than 100 yards on the day. While the defense held it down, the offense continued to struggle. The Panthers had every opportunity to win down the stretch but lost because of the offense’s inability to score. In their final four possessions, Carolina’s offense produced wasted opportunities-three punts plus a blown screen pass on fourth-and-6. The unit scored 15 points or fewer for the sixth consecutive game, against a Titans defense that’s ranked no. 31 in the league.
After reclaiming play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, former Panthers’ head coach Frank Reich continued to deploy an offense that’s just as dry and vanilla as it was in the preseason. For an impatient and offensive-minded owner in Tepper, this was the can of gasoline that torched an already hot seat.
Tepper didn’t speak to Reich after Sunday’s loss and after parting ways with him Monday that makes four coaches in Tepper’s five years as owner that he’s run through.
The Panthers are a hot mess and the worst team in the league. This season is rock bottom in this era. They have no identity on offense, despite pulling up the Brinks’ truck on coaches to surround Reich. They gambled by trading for Bryce Young and provided little to no pocket protection and weapons for him to succeed. All of the Panthers’ flaws are systemic, and Tepper is at the core and root of it all.
Yelling in frustration after another loss in a long string of them would evoke empathy for anyone else who’s trying to build a winning team. However, it’s hard to empathize with an owner who chose abject failure with the decisions he’s made.
In his eagerness to put his stamp and imprint on the franchise, he fired Ron Rivera with no solid contingency plan. He hired Matt Rhule and kept him around longer than he should have. Tepper then hires another guy who’s a great interview in Reich and has a 1-10 record to show for it. It’s one thing to make a mistake, but to make the same mistake twice is reckless and egregious.
Tepper hires Scott Fitterer after dumping Marty Hurney, and the consequence of that choice is a poorly constructed roster. The premise was to build a roster that emphasizes offense more, but it’s hard to field that roster without the proper personnel. That falls on both Fitterer and in a sense Tepper.
The majority of fans want a full reset. As I said in a previous piece, Tepper should step back and let a firm hire the replacements. After they do, let those hires operate. Let them work without any extra intervention. Let them cook.
Tepper should look around him. Take a look at what he destroyed and created at the same time, and accept what he did. After that, rectify it by letting real football minds help him out.
Either that, or curse and yell in the hollow void of the locker room and the deaf ears of a weary and fed-up fanbase.