It is week 2 and it already feels like the Carolina Panther's season is over. This past loss against the Giants was certainly a deflating one. Now it is looking like this team is going to have a top ten draft pick for the 4th year in a row. There is a lot of negativity surrounding this franchise right now, and for good reason, but there is reason to believe that success will be coming sooner than some might think for this team.
A lot of the pessimism regarding this team is due to head coach Matt Rhule and his consistently underwhelming performances in games. It seems like it is only a matter of time before he gets fired. He may have had success at the college level, but that success has not translated to the NFL level. Every weekend he exemplifies what bad game management looks like. He makes questionable personnel decisions, such as choosing not to sign Carlos Dunlap and refusing to put Terrace Marshall and Rashard Higgins on the field, instead opting to leave Shi Smith, who was dropping passes left and right, in against New York. His teams also consistently looks discombobulated whenever they take the field on Sundays.
With all of this pessimism surrounding the franchis, the Panthers could most certainly use a change in their culture. This regime has come with a lot of baggage. All of the rumors that have come out about what goes on in the team's facilities shows the organization's dysfunction. That paired with the team's recent performances on the football field has left a bitter taste in fans' mouths.
Getting a new head coach who could reset what has become a toxic culture would benefit the team greatly. There are several head coaching candidates that could help rebuild this team's culture in 2023 and beyond. One of these people is Byron Leftwich, the offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He could potentially help this team better utilize the talent they have on offense. Another coach to keep an eye on is Raheem Morris, who has done a stellar job as the defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams. This team desperately needs a coaching change, and it is looking like it is going to happen within the next year.
Despite a coaching overhaul being seemingly inevitable, the Panthers' roster should be looking mostly the same in 2023. Baker Mayfield is going to be a free agent after the season, so the team may or may not resign him, depending on how well he plays and if they would rather draft a quarterback such as Bryce Young, CJ Stroud or Anthony Richardson. Other than Mayfield, the Panthers do not have any key players playing in a contract year. The biggest contributors that are free agents in 2023 are Matt Ioannidis, Bradley Bozeman, D'Onta Foreman and Myles Hartsfield (who is a restricted free agent). All of them are good players, but ones that can be replaced nonetheless. The star players on the team such as Christian McCaffrey, Brian Burns, DJ Moore, ect. are all returning. This means that all of the most talented and biggest contributors on the roster are returning after the 2022 season, meaning that the team could still be competitive in 2023 despite probably having a new head coach. The roster is a talented one and with most of the team coming back, could be in the playoff hunt sooner rather than later.
This team is just about ready for a change in culture. A new head is likely on the way in after this season to try and fix the dumpster fire organization that is the Carolina Panthers. There is still room for optimism though as this team has all of the roster talent to compete in the NFC. All this team needs is a good coaching staff that can put their players in the best position for them to succeed. A good 2023 off-season could also help the team earn its first playoff berth since 2017
But for now at least, we just have to wait for this seemingly lost season to be over with. The off-season cannot come soon enough.