Has Panthers owner David Tepper realized the error of his ways?

(Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper
(Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper /

Does a recent shift in approach indicate Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has learned from the error of his ways since buying the franchise?

There’s been little for the Carolina Panthers to celebrate since David Tepper bought the franchise from Jerry Richardson for a then-record $2.2 billion. The organization is almost unrecognizable these days, which stemmed from legendary figures moving on and a series of key decisions that blew up in the billionaire’s face.

No winning seasons have occurred under Tepper. More importantly, the Panthers’ long-suffering fanbase became more disenchanted than ever after losing all confidence in Matt Rhule’s ability as head coach.

Tepper finally pulled the plug on Rhule’s disastrous tenure after Carolina’s loss against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5. Steve Wilks was installed as interim and immediately set about restoring respectability across the board, which was exactly what the Panthers needed.

Had Wilks gotten Carolina to an unlikely divisional title win, it would have been difficult for Tepper to go in a different direction. As it turned out, the owner made Frank Reich their next head coach – the first one with a legitimate offensive mind in franchise history.

David Tepper changing approach for the Carolina Panthers

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated recently brought to light some in-depth tidbits that led to Reich’s hiring. It was fascinating insight from the respected insider, which indicated that Tepper is adopting a collective approach that was sorely missing under Rhule.

"“Tepper, as he had after the first round of interviews, asked everyone to rank their top five candidates, abstaining from the vote (so as not to influence anything). Reich was first on everyone’s list. From Nos. 2 to 4, the lists varied, making Reich a pretty clear-cut choice. So the Panthers have a new coach, Reich has a second shot, and, it seems, Tepper feels like his organization, and everyone in it, is better for having gone through the process.”"

This notion gained further traction after the head coach’s introductory press conference. Tepper revealed that the Panthers will move forward with a traditional method of success that centers on general manager Scott Fitterer sorting personnel and Reich coaching them up before deciding who’s active on a week-to-week basis.

Again, this is a stark contrast to what Tepper allowed Rhule to get away with. Couple this with some eye-catching coaching additions including the retention of both James Campen and Chris Tabor, the question must be asked.

Has Tepper finally realized the error of his ways?

There is a long way to go and a lot of hard work ahead. But things appear to be going in the right direction under Tepper at long last.

Trusting his football people. Striking with conviction. Becoming more methodical in the decision-making process. It’s a refreshing change of pace.

Of course, results are all that matter to fans after so many false promises and constant underachievement. Most NFL owners get their first head coaching hire wrong looking at history, but it does appear as if Tepper has learned from these mistakes and is reacting positively.

As the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. Tepper has a long way to go in pursuit of getting back into the fans’ good graces, so what comes next is equally if not more important.

Tepper was no doubt embarrassed by Rhule and the Rock Hill debacle. Something he’s trying to put right with a stable, concise plan that could bear fruit if it all comes together.

Until then, fans will remain skeptical. And that’s only fair given Tepper’s track record since becoming an NFL owner.

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