3 major storylines following the Carolina Panthers into Week 8 vs. Texans

The bye week has come and gone, it's time to get back to business for the Carolina Panthers.
Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud
Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud / Allen Berezovsky/GettyImages
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Impact of Carolina Panthers play-calling switch

So, I’ll be honest… when the Carolina Panthers hired Frank Reich as the new head coach, I wasn’t entirely sold on it. I had my personal preferences and they all, for the most part, were younger offensive minds that I felt came from creative coaching trees and were prepared to lead this team into the modern NFL we are seeing today.

Then the franchise hired Thomas Brown as the new offensive coordinator.

I bought into the staff at that moment. Not to put any unfair pressure or expectations on Brown, who is working the offensive coordinator position for the first time in his NFL career, but I’m a big fan of the way he approaches coaching, his communication with players and media, and the philosophy he comes from.

Brown previously had been a member of the Los Angeles Rams the three seasons prior, serving in a combination of running backs, tight ends, and assistant head coaching capacities under revered head coach Sean McVay.

The playbook isn’t going to magically transform now that Brown holds the conductor baton. The plays and concepts have already been installed. So, what could potentially change and why do I feel so optimistic?

Personally, I thought that the communication, sequencing, and situational play-calling were some of the main culprits of the offense being sluggish and predictable at times. I think that all three of those will be improved upon. In part, because I feel that Brown will have a more natural feel and command of how to get this offense into an advantageous flow.

Brown spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon and harkened to the familiar football phrase ‘no block, no rock’ when reiterating the emphasis put on skill positions such as wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs to block effectively in order to get the most out of this offense.

Rams rookie wide receiver, Puka Nacua, has embodied that principle. Jonathan Mingo was often talked about as one of the best blocking receivers in this 2023 draft class., so something similar might be adopted.

Another interesting wrinkle to that quote and the subsequent implication that Brown could be potentially leaning into the rushing attack a bit more than we’ve seen thus far is that the Rams have switched their blocking to a gap scheme. This is instead of the zone system deployed in Carolina, which was thought to be Brown’s preference.

This offensive line was executing a power/gap blocking scheme last year in the latter portion of the season - not coincidentally when the ground game started picking up steam. Would Brown dare play to the strength of this unit?

The other tangible adjustment I believe we’ll see is with the alignments and packaging of personnel. Subtle changes to where players are deployed from on the field and with which combination of teammates can alter the spacing and timing without necessarily changing them.

I can foresee Brown using players more to their natural positions and in matchup-based situations to create advantages.