Carolina Panthers power couple make imposing start to cultural reset

Things could be looking up at long last.
Dan Morgan and Dave Canales
Dan Morgan and Dave Canales / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Morgan made no secret of his desire to restore the proud culture that had been lost under previous regimes. The Carolina Panthers were a shell of their former selves as a franchise. Matt Rhule began the downward spiral in his attempt to run a professional operation like a college program. Frank Reich didn't have the energy to make the improvements needed despite some substantial investments in the coaching staff.

The Panthers were the league's worst team last season and comfortably so. Morgan recognized this fact and that there were some tough decisions during his first offseason as general manager. But his biggest priority above all else was installing a sense of professionalism and collaboration with the long-term in mind.

His previous relationship with head coach Dave Canales also helped. The pair worked closely during their time together with the Seattle Seahawks. There's a great deal of trust between the two. More importantly, their vision for the organization next season and beyond is aligned.

Carolina Panthers heading in the right direction with Dan Morgan

Morgan recently stated how easy it was to make the transition with someone like Canales alongside him. The new front-office leader can also see their alterations in terms of environment and culture coming to light. Something that's coming with a quiet sense of excitement about the team's direction.

"Working with Dave [Canales] is really easy and I think hopefully he would say the same thing about me, where it's easy. We have fun. I think it's easy to really do something like this and put a board together when you enjoy who you're working with, not just Dave, but all the scouts, all the coaches, it's great coming into work every day.

"We have a really good environment right now. We feel like our culture is changing. Not only in the locker room but also upstairs, too. So, we're really excited about the direction that we're moving."

Morgan's next objective is successfully navigating the 2024 NFL Draft. The Panthers have seven selections but no first-round pick. Finding talent is important, but Morgan is also looking to acquire the right characters that fit his newfound way of thinking.

Hopes are growing that the power couple of Morgan and Canales can provide some stability that was sorely lacking previously. It's not going to happen overnight and some significant obstacles remain. That said, any doubts some had about whether this was the right direction to take have been alleviated.

For now, at least.

One thing that often gets overlooked is how deeply Morgan cares for this franchise. He was a core component behind their early success and jumped at the chance to come back when handed the opportunity. Now he's in the front office driving seat - a chance the former linebacker is not planning to waste.

The early signs are positive, there's no getting away from that. But the team's long-suffering fanbase is correct to err on the side of caution, even if this is normally the time of year when people get carried away about their fortunes for the upcoming campaign.

Morgan has a legitimate plan in place. After some initial skepticism about his promotion, things seem to be looking up.