5 Carolina Panthers fighting for their futures at 2023 midseason point

It's not gone according to plan...
Frank Reich
Frank Reich / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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Chuba Hubbard - Carolina Panthers RB

It would be easy to put Miles Sanders here. But all signs point to this being a lost cause for the Carolina Panthers after investing a decent amount of money in the Pro Bowl running back to secure his services in free agency.

Therefore, we'll put Chuba Hubbard under the microscope.

Hubbard is the team's No. 1 running back option right now. He's a former fourth-round selection who's seen as someone currently blossoming into a prominent role after being written off before previous head coach Matt Rhule was fired.

The former Oklahoma State star looks a lot better than he did as a rookie. However, one could make a case for his regression in 2023 based on his statistics.

Let's look at 2022 first once Hubbard was installed into the rotation by Steve Wilks as part of their power-run scheme:

  • 95 carries
  • 466 rushing yards
  • 2 touchdowns
  • 4.9 yards per carry
  • 14 receptions
  • 171 receiving yards

Now, let's look at 2023 within Frank Reich and Thomas Brown's offense:

  • 94 carries
  • 351 rushing yards
  • 1 touchdown
  • 3.7 yards per carry
  • 21 receptions
  • 110 receiving yards

There are mitigating factors in play. A bland scheme, an offensive line not creating enough holes, and a passing attack incapable of moving the chains consistently immediately spring to mind.

However, if Hubbard wants to prove beyond all doubt he can be a legitimate top backfield option, he needs to do more. The great running backs can all make things happen no matter the circumstance, which is a level the 2021 fourth-round pick wants to reach.

Anything less would likely see the Panthers look at others - perhaps from the college ranks - who can handle lead duties.