4 ways Frank Reich and his coaching staff are failing the Carolina Panthers

As far as starts go, this couldn't have gone worse...

Frank Reich
Frank Reich / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers most underrated self-inflicted flaw

Defensively, injuries have caused a lot of headaches for the Carolina Panthers. I acknowledge that. But I have little sympathy for the way that the run defense has been grotesquely violated on a weekly basis.

I don’t blame Shy Tuttle. I blame those who flippantly decided he should be played out of position and that they’d sell it as coveted versatility.

This coaching staff explained the surprise release of second-year nose tackle Marquan McCall as a scheme and fit issue. They passed it off as doing the big man a solid and giving him an opportunity to land on a roster before the commotion of the waiver period.

McCall was picked up by the New England Patriots but was waived after failing his physical prior to signing a contract with the club.

This led to speculation that the Panthers were, once again, trying to do a good deed and keep his injury to themselves and hope McCall could manage elsewhere. But that doesn’t check out with the frivolous scheme nonsense, either.

Sidebar - can we give the good Samaritan shtick a rest? I love how well-respected coach Frank Reich is throughout the league, but I also want some grit… some fire… something passionate.

You can’t rely on ‘Keep Pounding’ as the only motivation when you’re the drum being repeatedly bludgeoned. Back to what I was saying…

The realistic perception is that they had every intention of McCall playing an integral role on the defense as the gap-filling, run-stuffing 0-technique nose tackle that he is. Hence the praise from coaches and the articles written and published by the teams’ staff beat writers confirming such.

That leaves one final lingering question…

If the team was aware of their need for a true nose tackle to anchor the base unit of this defense - why have they simply sat on their hands instead of making the appropriate adjustment to fill that void? It’s incredibly frustrating to attempt to make sense of, for me.

The other option is that they legitimately did not feel a player with that ability and physical profile was necessary to field a competent rush defense. It’s a possible red flag that waves even harder than the aforementioned hand-sitting.

The secondary has done well, all things considered. Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, secondary coach Jonathan Cooley, and assistant defensive backs coach DeAngelo Hall deserve credit for getting the most out of the position group.

This has certainly been the most effective group of the defense. Special teams have been terrific, as well, in their contributions.

However, there are multiple groups and multiple leaders of those groups that I hope will all learn the same lesson:

The accolades and credentials you’ve earned in the past got your foot in the door before less decorated candidates. But to quote Slim Charles of The Wire - “Yeah, now, well, the thing about the old days; they the old days”.

The NFL is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league, and that’s a question that this Carolina Panthers staff should do everything in their power to avoid having to answer until they roll out some changes and earn different results.

If it were me, I’d start strategizing that game plan right away.

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