CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Bryce Young and the Carolina Panthers aren’t showing improvement — and that has to be testing the patience of owner David Tepper.
Tepper hired head coach Frank Reich to fix one of the league’s worst offenses over the past few seasons and develop Young, the No. 1 overall pick whom he gave up four draft picks and top wide receiver D.J. Moore to acquire this past offseason with the self-proclaimed goal of winning multiple Super Bowls.
But the Panthers (1-9) couldn’t be further away from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. They have the worst record in the league and are coming off an embarrassing 33-10 home loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
If anything, Carolina’s offense has gotten worse.
The Panthers are 31st in the league in yards per game and 29th in scoring.
The team has allowed 39 sacks in 10 games and, perhaps most concerning, Young has regressed with three pick-6s in the past three games. He continues to have one of the worst QB ratings in the league with nearly as many interceptions (eight) as touchdown passes (nine) and has shown little signs of being the guy who can guide the Panthers to a title.
Games such as Sunday's, where Young completed 16 of 29 passes for a measly 123 yards and was sacked seven times, have become all too common. The downfield pass has nearly become non-existent in Reich's offense with Young under constant pressure from an offensive line that can't protect him. The Panthers haven't had a 100-yard rusher all season.
Whether or not the offense's struggles might cost Reich and/or general manager Scott Fitterer their jobs remains to be seen.
Reich is in the first year of a four-year contract, so Tepper might give him a pass rather than pay him an estimated $27 million over the next three years. Reich's contract numbers have never been made public, but when the Indianapolis Colts fired him last year they did so still owing him $9 per season.
Fitterer took over in 2021 and hasn't built a winner, so patience with him might be even shorter.
Tepper hasn't conducted any interviews with reporters since the start of the season so it is difficult to gauge his level of frustration.
But this is a billionaire who demands success and hasn't shown much patience.
He fired Ron Rivera less than two years after purchasing the team and then fired Matt Rhule less than 2 1/2 years into a seven-year, $63 million contract. He's also fired two Charlotte FC head coaches within two seasons of owning that franchise. In addition, several other top level executives from the football and soccer teams have either been fired or stepped away since Tepper purchased the team from the late Jerry Richardson in 2018.
One thing is for sure, the fanbase is fed up.
Since Tepper took over a playoff team in 2017, the Panthers have suffered through six losing seasons and have won less than one-third (30-62 overall) of their games under his ownership.
Many of the team's PSL owners sold their tickets to Cowboys fans, who essentially took over Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, a source of embarrassment for any team owner.
Reich said he understand the fans' frustration.
“You start to set things in place to make a change and you want it to happen overnight,” Reich said. “Sometimes it takes longer than you want. But you have to keep your head down, be strong-willed, keep the vision clear, and come to work every day, and you’ve got to be able to fight your way through the tough times.”
The Panthers had a good day running the ball against the Cowboys for a change, gaining 110 yards while averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Chuba Hubbard led the way with 57 yards on 10 carries while Miles Sanders added 50 yards on 11 carries.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Offensive line. The Panthers need to give some serious thought to overhauling the offensive line this coming offseason. The unit did well last season run-blocking for power back D'Onta Foreman, but they have struggled as the team has switched its focus to being a passing team.
Adam Thielen. The 33-year-old wide receiver continues to make incredible clutch catches and remains the lone bright spot in a bad offense. He had eight receptions for 74 yards against the Cowboys, including two catches on fourth downs to move the chains. He has 76 receptions for 726 yards and four TDs on the season.
Bryce Young. He struggles in the pocket and has now thrown three pick-6s in the past three games. Young has only nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions and is 1-8 as a starter. By comparison, No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud of the Houston Texans has 17 TD passes and five interceptions and is 6-4 as a starter. That has to leave the Panthers wondering if they made the wrong decision by taking Young over Stroud.
Panthers reserve cornerback Dicaprio Bootle injured his knee late in the fourth quarter and his status moving forward is uncertain.
572-163 — The margin by which the Panthers have been outscored this season.
The Panthers begin the process of playing out the remainder of the season when they travel to Tennessee on Sunday.
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