It’s been a Panther filled Thursday on Sports Radio FNZ, as Panthers head coach Matt Rhule appeared on the Mac Attack and Wilson & Norfleet this morning to discuss the 2021 season, among other Panther related topics. Panthers GM Scott Fitterer joined the Clubhouse with Kyle Bailey not too long ago to complete the Panther media tour today, as the franchise made their head coach and GM available following a disappointing, 5-12 season. One of the many themes that came out of Rhule’s conversation this morning was the Panthers plan at the quarterback position, which was a big reason why the team struggled in the second half of the year. The Panthers started three different quarterbacks in Sam Darnold, PJ Walker, and Cam Newton. Fitterer had this to say about the team’s approach to the position heading into the 2022 off-season
“We definitely need to stabilize the position. Whether we go out and trade for a quarterback, whether we draft one, we’re going to do something at the position at some point, because we know that we need to stabilize the position, get consistent play out of the position.”
Fitterer would go on to explain in detail why the Panthers decided to pick up the 5th year option for Sam Darnold, despite never having seen him play in a Panthers uniform. Additionally, Fitterer left the door open for a return for Cam Newton in 2022, saying: “We just told him straight forward, if we can find a role that fits for us, a role that fits for you, and it works out, we’d love to have Cam back”.
The conversation also turned to the Panthers offensive line, which it’s safe to say had their fair share of struggles during the 2021 season, whether it be due to injuries, inexperience, COVID, they know they have to get better upfront if they want to become a playoff team. Fitter said:
“Our priority is definitely upfront, on that offensive line, and we need to stabilize that. That’s going to help our quarterback, and that’s going to help our offense be consistent.”
How do they do that though? The Panthers fired their offensive line coach yesterday, and are in the process of vetting out candidates for the vacant offensive coordinator job, which became available right as Carolina was coming off their bye. Fitter said: “One thing we need to do first off, is identifying who our offensive coordinator is going to be, what style of play are we going to be, what’s our identity. Once we know who that is, we’ll be able to take the players that are on our draft board, fit them into our team. It’s going to be a long process, but I think we need to figure out what the OC search looks like, and where we’re going that way.”
It’s safe to say that the Panthers have their work cut out for them, heading into this off-season, as they are coming off a 5-12 season, after starting 3-0. The good news is that had coach Matt Rhule and the GM, Scott Fitterer appear to be on the same page, as they both try to turn this thing around, and bring winning football back to the Carolina’s.