The Carolina Panthers continue to sport the NFL’s worst record at 1-10 after suffering their fourth straight loss on Sunday, a 17-10 defeat to the Tennessee Titans.
Tensions appear to be coming to a head for Carolina after owner David Tepper’s public postgame outburst, and speculation has ensued as to whether head coach Frank Reich will remain in that position for the remainder of the season or beyond.
David Tepper Furious After Panthers’ Latest Loss
The Panthers’ brutal 2023 season continued with Sunday’s narrow loss to the Titans, as they found the end zone just once and could not muster enough points to top a Tennessee offense that had plenty of its own struggles.
Carolina fell into a 17-3 hole by halftime and failed to rally out of it despite pulling within one score early in the third quarter.
It all left Tepper visibly frustrated after the game as he was seen shaking his head leaving the Panthers locker room after the game and yelled “F**k!” as he walked out, according to Panthers beat writer Sheena Quick.
Reich said after the game that he did not speak with Tepper, also according to Quick.
Perhaps no moment loomed larger in Carolina’s disappointing loss than its final offensive play of the game.
The Panthers faced 4th-and-6 from their own 24-yard line, needing a first down to extend their chances at a potential game-tying touchdown with just two minutes to play. Young appeared to audible away from the original play, and Carolina ran a wide receiver screen that was bottled up near the line of scrimmage.
“We had an option to have that on, and you play that cat and mouse game,” Young told reporters after the game. “It didn’t go our way. That’s on me. As a unit, we just have to execute more big plays.”
When asked if it was the right decision to check to the screen play, Young told reporters he needed to “watch it on film” and hadn’t “had that opportunity.”
Reich also discussed the play after the game, attributing its failure to a lack of execution rather than a poor play call.
“We’ve checked that play a couple of times,” Reich told reporters. “When you hit that play right versus zero, it’s a touchdown. When you hit that play right versus blitz zero, and if you execute it right, it’s a touchdown. DJ [Chark] probably came a little further back than he needed to. He’s not normally in there for that, but we had some receivers — a couple of guys — go down.
“The play we had called was going to put DJ on another in cut — he was the primary [option] — so we wanted him in that spot. We just need to execute that better.”
Potential Replacements for Frank Reich
Just about any coach with a 1-10 record through his first 11 games with a franchise would certainly face scrutiny, and it’s no different with Reich. The veteran coach’s seat is reportedly “on fire,” according to Fox’s Will Kunkel.
If Carolina does decide to move on from Reich, who could they look to as potential replacements?
Mike Macdonald, DC, Ravens
Macdonald is likely to be one of several hot assistant coaches poised to be involved in conversations for lead gigs as the coaching carousel begins to spin. He is a longtime assistant coach with the Ravens who has been with the franchise since 2014, aside from a one-year sting with Michigan in 2022.
Macdonald has coordinated a Baltimore defense that has been perhaps the league’s top unit on that side of the ball this season, as it leads the league in DVOA by far heading into Week 12.
That track record of success could certainly make him an attractive option for the Panthers and other teams.
Ben Johnson, OC, Detroit Lions
Carolina could instead look to a more offensive-minded coach to help in the development of either Bryce Young or a top quarterback from the 2024 draft class if the franchise stays on track for a top draft pick.
Johnson certainly fits the bill there and is likely to be a hot name on the coaching market after playing a key part in the Detroit Lions’ historic success thus far this season. He has been plenty successful as Detroit’s offensive coordinator this season, maximizing what the team has gotten out of Jared Goff, its pair of running backs, and a solid receiving corps.
The Panthers’ offensive issues go beyond coaching, but a coach with plenty of expertise in maximizing talent on that side of the ball would certainly be a good start.
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