Carolina Panthers hire Dave Canales: A glaring sign of underwhelming times

It seems as if the Carolina Panthers and Dave Canales will move forward together.

Dave Canales
Dave Canales / David Berding/GettyImages
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The Carolina Panthers making Dave Canales their next head coach is a glaring sign of underwhelming times across the struggling franchise.

After an exhausting search for a new head coach, the Carolina Panthers have their guy. According to multiple reports, the team and Dave Canales are finalizing details for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator to take over the reins. It's also a sign of underwhelming times for a franchise on its knees.

Canales has some intriguing qualities. He's a renowned quarterback whisperer, playing a leading role in the turnarounds of Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield. He's an up-and-coming coach who was widely expected to get a head coaching job further down the line. The Panthers decided to jump the queue in the hope he would flourish.

Of course, Canales and the new president of football operations/general manager Dan Morgan are close. They formed a bond from their time together with the Seattle Seahawks. This relationship served him well during interviews, one suspects. It could also allow this tandem to hit the ground running throughout a critical offseason.

The initial reaction across the fanbase is mixed, much like the decision to promote Morgan. Some were hoping for a more experienced culture setter. Others wanted one of the more coveted candidates such as Ben Johnson, Bobby Slowik, or Mike Macdonald.

Carolina Panthers getting ahead of the game with Dave Canales

Carolina Panthers
Dave Canales / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This is a sign of the times, to a certain extent. And in all honesty, Canales might have been the best Carolina could hope for in the circumstances.

Concerns about how the Panthers' vacant positions were being perceived league-wide thanks in no small part to David Tepper's mismanagement and petulant public displays were evident. His meddling in football affairs, constant need for control, and suspect decision-making of the past had made those with better options turn away. Canales was a legitimate candidate, but whether he was the Panthers' first choice is another matter.

There's no way Tepper wouldn't have swung for the fences with Johnson if there was mutual interest. He wanted him during the previous cycle. The allure of somewhere like the Washington Commanders and the doubts surrounding the culture created under his ownership put people off. That's the bottom line.

Canales is a good coach. That's not up for debate. This is a big project to take on, but the appointment also indicates the process revolved around the ability to help quarterback Bryce Young reach his undoubted potential.

Could Canales do for Young what he managed with Smith and Mayfield in such a short space of time? That's what Tepper is banking on above all else, determined to prove the monumental investment in the Heisman Trophy winner will pay off. While there's an argument to build the team first rather than primarily focus on the quarterback, this is the route chosen for good or bad.

This could be Tepper finally getting ahead of the game at long last. Mike McDaniel only got one request before becoming Miami Dolphins head coach and that seems to be going well. It looks to many like the Panthers are settling now, but that could change in a few years if this appointment goes as everyone associated with the franchise hoped.

Canales needs to establish an identity first. He'll have input in playing personnel working closely with Morgan. There's a lot that needs to be fixed, including a staffing overhaul despite the obvious desire to retain defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.

Amid the many positives associated with Canales, fans remain skeptical thanks to Tepper's woeful moves since buying the franchise from Jerry Richardson in 2018. Those around the league have made their feelings known throughout this hiring cycle. It's led to Canales, so we'll hope it bears fruit in the coming years.

Otherwise, the consequences are going to be catastrophic.

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