Carolina Panthers' prediction is stark reminder of upcoming challenges

It's yet more fuel to the fire...
Dave Canales
Dave Canales / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

Nobody is expecting team owner David Tepper to be hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy at season's end. The Carolina Panthers went through more turmoil on and off the field than any other NFL franchise in 2023. It's been a promising offseason, but tempering expectations around any immediate improvements would be a wise course of action for the fanbase.

Dave Canales - the third permanent head coach in as many seasons in Carolina - seems confident his methods can start the climb towards respectability or better next season. Dan Morgan is taking a more patient approach, stating that not everything will be fixed this year and the Panthers are planning with longer-term objectives in mind.

Analyst tips the Carolina Panthers to go 3-14 in 2024

One doesn't have to look far around the media for season predictions after the NFL officially released its schedule for the upcoming campaign. Most are expecting the Panthers to improve in some capacity, but Gilberto Manzano from Sports Illustrated's projection of 3-14 is a crashing reminder of the challenges that lie ahead.

"The [Carolina] Panthers are banking on [Dave] Canales to ignite Bryce Young’s career the same way he did for Baker Mayfield and Geno Smith. Young, the 2023 No. 1 pick, is set up to succeed in Year 2 with an offensive guru calling plays and a revamped receiving corps that added Diontae Johnson and rookie Xavier Legette. But with so much inexperience and uncertainty, this roster might be a year away from competing with the other teams in the division."

Canales is running out of space for bulletin board material heading into the campaign. From the criticism of Bryce Young to not having any primetime games and lower record projections than most, there is no shortage available for everyone in the building as they look to shift some concerning narratives.

The head coach is keeping receipts, too. Canales' post on Instagram after the schedule was announced seemed to indicate he took not being on national television personally. Hopefully, his players will do the same and strive for better days ahead under his guidance.

Making the postseason seems like a pipedream. However, being competitive in every game, playing fundamentally sound football in all phases, and displaying a collective drive through good times and bad is well within the team's capabilities.

Manzano's projection of three wins is the absolute floor. It would be incredibly disappointing if the Panthers couldn't muster more than that. A winning record is the dream looking at how things stand currently. The realistic aim is somewhere in the middle.

This adds more fuel to the fire. The Panthers are on a redemption tour next season after descending into the league's laughingstock last time around. This hasn't gone unnoticed by Canales or general manager Dan Morgan, who've worked exceptionally hard since their respective appointments to instill a level of professionalism, collaboration, and belief that was sorely lacking.

There is a sense of optimism among the team's long-suffering support. At the same time, most are adopting a wait-and-see approach after being hoodwinked by the delusional outlooks of previous regimes.

Once they see a better football product and a team fighting hard for them, that's something every fan can get behind.