I’ve been mulling over this article for a day trying to find the right words to convey an articulate and professional feeling concerning a team I’ve covered professionally and as a fan, love.

Every fan has experienced a tough season and has wanted to clean house; here’s an ode to you, Cleveland fans… or Buffalo. But at what point to do you fire coaches or give them enough rope to mold a winning team despite losing seasons; even further, at what point do you start blaming the players? The Panthers organization have been struggling for years trying to find their identity in the NFL; becoming a fan favorite in 2015 but since then, have struggled to maintain that success or even duplicating it. The Carolina Panthers are one of the younger teams in the NFL, but if you asked a fan, probably one of the oldest reflecting teams there are (in terms of play calling, aggression, and spending money).

Upon former owner Jerry Richardson’s sexual misconduct allegations which lead to his choice to sell his majority holdings of the team, fans were anxious to see who would be next up at the helm of this young, fresh and impressionable team and fan base; in walks David Tepper. Tepper, who already had an established name within the NFL as one of the minority owners of the Steelers, proved to be everything the Carolina Panthers needed, exciting, young (er), and the want to spend money. Tepper swept into Charlotte, removed the NFL shield from the middle of the playing field to the Panthers logo, invested in the communities, and proved he had his own swag with QB Cam Newton.

In the beginning, Tepper didn’t seem to have any intention on changing anything in Carolina, but since the recent four-game losing streak, is it possible that he’s ready to shake things up? According to CBS Sports, he is.

Tepper has been concerned about the lack of analytics in the franchise and has wondered whether the franchise was too old school in some regards, and the collapse of their defense and some recent in-game decisions by coach Ron Rivera have added to the unrest, the sources said. A loss to lowly Tampa Sunday – after three-straight defeats following a fast start – will only hasten the momentum, the sources said.

Rivera, who is a former Super Champion with the ’85 Chicago Bears, has a current record of 70-53-1 with the Panthers and with a tough stretch up ahead, the playoffs are looking slim. The Panthers have to face the Browns, Saints, Falcons, and the Saints to finish out the season… not the easiest set of games, with a team who can’t seem to win on the road. Rivera hasn’t given the team or fans a viable explanation to the teams sudden free fall after starting the season 6-2.

“At the end of the day, you give yourself a chance. You fight to the very end,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “The last few games we’ve played have come down to the last opportunities we’ve had, whether it be on offense or defense. We just got to make a play and that’s unfortunately something that we haven’t been able to do right now. Make a play when it matters.”

Rivera, who was faced with questions concerning his job security stated that he didn’t want to answer those questions and do not ask them again.

Rivera has to be aware of the lack of aggression with the team because he began assisting first-year defensive coordinator, Eric Washington, with defensive play calling. Washington, who took over for Steve Wilks, has been questioned about his ability to coach this talented defense to the top-rated defense they use to be but this is bigger than defensive or offensive play calling, the team seems defeated. Cam Newton can post happy videos after a deflating loss, but you can tell from his demeanor, it’s reminding him of earlier years, such as 2012 where he wore his emotions heavily on his sleeve and it reflected poorly on who he is. Even Greg Olsen, one of the calmer and sound minds of the team, who seems to be out for the season with a foot injury, is seen as speechless and frustrated in the locker room discussing the team’s ability to finish games.

So who do you blame?

I’m with Tepper making a personnel change. It’s time. When it comes to winning, it’s by any means necessary and sometimes that means shaking things up; whether that’s Rivera or Washington, an example needs to be made, unfortunately.  The Panthers seemed to be stuck in the middle ages outside of their social media presence and with Tepper looking to not only win but spend money, change is imminent. Hopefully, he doesn’t pull a Packers move and fire Rivera blindsided and leave the organization without well… organization.

If you’re a fan like me, we’re looking at the draft. If you’re not like me, good luck with the rest of the season.

P.S. Also, what do we have to do to get DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel more CONSISTENT targets?


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