After another disappointing home loss in the division, the Carolina Panthers find themselves at 5-5 entering Week 12 against the division-leading New Orleans Saints.
Panther’s owner David Tepper met with Charlotte reporters after Carolina’s latest disappointing loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Tepper expressed his discontent with mediocrity in all facets of life with the Panthers being no exception.
Unfortunately, with a record of 5-5, the Panthers are just about the definition of mediocre as they travel to New Orleans to take on the best team in the division.
Some fans might think that Tepper is not being realistic with his expectations considering the team lost starting quarterback Cam Newton after just two regular-season games.
However, the NFL is an impatient league. No coach or player really ever has their job completely safe.
Tepper was patient after the 7-9 record the team finished with last season by making no significant changes to the coaching staff or key players.
Panthers fans should not expect the same if the team is held out of the playoffs for a second straight year.
The truth is, the future of Carolina is as uncertain as any team in the NFL.
Head coach Ron Rivera has been an excellent coach for the team for nine years. He has a combined record of 76-61-1 and led the team to its second Super Bowl appearance back in 2015.
Cam Newton has been the best quarterback in franchise history. The obvious problem is that he cannot seem to get or stay healthy and even if he does it is fair to question if he will ever be nearly as effective as he was in his MVP days.
The media consensus has both Rivera and Newton on the hot seat as potential departures from Carolina by the end of the season.
With each loss, the possibility of a complete coaching staff turn around seems more and more likely.
Not all hope is lost, however.
The season isn’t over. The Panthers are still in the hunt for the playoffs no matter how small of a chance they have.
They certainly have an uphill battle in front of them with two meetings against the 8-2 Saints as well as a Week 15 matchup vs. the 8-2 Seattle Seahawks.
If Carolina fails to pull off wins in two of those three brutal matchups, then they can pretty much kiss the playoffs goodbye.
That makes this week’s game against the Saints on Sunday a must-win for the team.
The Panthers can look no further than the last team they played, the Falcons, for inspiration.
The Falcons head coach was reportedly on the hot seat before the team’s bye week. Atlanta has since won two straight games. One of them coming against those division-leading Saints.
The Falcons have been playing more inspired and mistake-free football since jobs have been on the line.
The Panthers must begin to play the same way.
A Week 12 win against New Orleans would go a long way in proving to Mr. Tepper that this team is not mediocre.