When an individual or (in this case) an organization tells you who they are, you should believe them. I’m not suggesting you listen to their actual words but I am declaring that their consistent actions will almost always tell you who they are. Deeds, not words.
While the Carolina Panthers and General Manager Scott Fitterer seem to always be speaking about how this team will be reloading and not rebuilding, they’re selling you an acre of swampland with the promise of paradise.
We’ve all been led to believe that this team just needed a top flight quarterback and an elite coaching staff to start competing for an NFC South title at the least and several home playoff games at the most. That sounds great, except that everything Fitterer and the Panthers have down over the past 18 months would suggest otherwise.
While elite players Christian McCaffrey, Hassan Reddick and DJ Moore play elsewhere, Panthers fans are left to ponder the question of whether to sign Brian Burns to an elite level contract. (Hint: If you have to waffle back and forth and the answer doesn’t seem obvious, then you don’t pay the elite contract. If you think you’re man is truly one of the 5 or 6 best at his position in the NFL, then you open up the checkbook and pay that man).
Back to elite players. McCaffrey is clearly the best and most valuable running back in the league and is one of the few that simply cannot be replaced on a team that knows what to do with him. After being drafted and growing up in Carolina, the team apparently didn’t like his injury history and tried to turn him into a trade piece that ostensibly would provide the franchise with more trade capital to utilize in the never-ending search for a true Franchise Quarterback.
The Panthers have replaced their offensive players with an effective but older Adam Thielen, unimpressive Miles Sanders, an under-utilized Hayden Hurst, a sleepy Terrace Marshall Jr. and an ineffective DJ Chark. Could any of those players start for a team with even above average talent at their respective positions? I’ll let you ponder that and decide for yourself.
In further pursuit of that goal, the team traded fan-favorite and WR1 DJ Moore to the Chicago Bears along with a haul of draft picks to secure the number one overall selection which the team then turned into Bryce Young. While it’s far too early to make a decision on whether or not Young will be The Guy, it’s not too early to start passing judgement on Fitterer.
We were all told that if you assemble an elite level, offensive minded-coaching staff, surround your young QB with top-level talent, that you could minimize the growing pains endured by any young player at that position. By any measure of a team, a quarterback or a coaching staff, this offense is at or very near the bottom of any ranking you can imagine. There are time management issues, on-going penalty problems and less than inspiring play calling on full display. The first four games have been a resounding failure with very little light showing itself at the end of what seems like a very long tunnel.
So far, none of that is coming to fruition. So far, almost every move that Fitterer has made in the past year plus – has failed to engage. How is a young QB supposed to find rhythm and success when he’s surrounded by offensive players who largely can’t compete with the rest of the league? Is it the coaching staff led by veteran coach Frank Reich? Is it an offensive line that can’t seem to protect any quarterback behind them, haven’t shown an ability to run-block and are one of the most penalized units in the NFL?
The answer is probably all of the above and you know that they all have in common?
Scott Fitterer put it all together. Scott Fitterer is the problem and if this team doesn’t get things turned around to some extent by the second half of the season then there should be long, hard conversations at Mint and Morehead about how the team continues its obvious rebuild moving forward.
Don’t call it a reload or a build up when every possible way of looking at this roster construction over the past year-and-a-half screams rebuild. We’re no longer listening to what comes out of the speaker at Panthers HQ but we are paying attention to what they do.
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