Carolina Panthers veteran offers brutal assessment of 2023 struggles

It was a complete disaster.
Frank Reich
Frank Reich / Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Thielen came to the Carolina Panthers with one purpose. The veteran wide receiver turned down offers from elsewhere because he believed this franchise was well-positioned to make the postseason and perhaps go beyond that. He wasn't secretive about that fact before the campaign, but the unfortunate reality couldn't have been much worse.

Thielen got sold fool's gold like most of the fanbase. Frank Reich and his supposed all-star staff couldn't get on the same page. General manager Scott Fitterer gravely overjudged the roster's state, making him look foolish when things started spiraling out of control. Almost everyone paid with their jobs aside from the continuity retained on the defensive side.

Everyone is turning the page on last season's struggles. Dave Canales brought a sense of positivity, enthusiasm, and improved coaching that was sorely lacking previously. Dan Morgan and Brandt Tilis moved with increased professionalism in the front office. It's a long road up from rock bottom, but the signs are positive at long last.

Adam Thielen reflects on disastrous 2023 season for the Carolina Panthers

Thielen remains a key part of the team's plans for next season. The wideout hinted that a future away from the Panthers could arrive if he wasn't suitably impressed with the alterations. The added help in the receiver room coupled with enhanced schematics under Canales means things are looking up for everybody.

The former undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State gave a brutal assessment of Carolina's failings during the previous campaign. It wasn't something Thielen was used to based on comments via Fan Nation. He also hinted that things not public knowledge were transpiring behind the scenes beggared belief.

"It was brutal. Losing in any sport or anything you do…losing is never fun, especially when you put so much into it. It was definitely tough. There was a lot of adversity throughout it. A lot of stuff that people probably never know that happened that you just can’t make up. But at the end of the day, I believe it was probably the best thing to ever happen to me. Just learning how to deal with adversity, learning how to be a leader through major storms. I think for Bryce (Young), a lot of the young guys, and maybe some of the coaches that we still have around, I think it’s probably the best thing that ever happened to us. It teaches you a lot. When you’re winning and everything is great, you’re not really learning a lot."

Adam Thielen via Fan Nation

Thielen's right. This could end up being the best thing that's happened to the Panthers. The realization of being the NFL's bottom feeder was hard to take. At the same time, the only way is forward with Canales' progressive guidance steering them in the right direction.

Everyone received a massive learning experience throughout one of the worst campaigns in franchise history. Thielen had some ups and downs with the Minnesota Vikings, but nothing like this. The likes of Bryce Young had largely positive environments in college, so this quickly became a rude awakening in no uncertain terms.

Learning from this is crucial if the Panthers want to enjoy better fortunes moving forward. Coping with adversity and harnessing it positively are core components behind any growth that comes Carolina's way in 2024. The plethora of new faces should help, but the onus is on those around last season to shake it off and restore a sense of pride.

Thielen doesn't have many good years left. He'll have more urgency than most to put things right. But after emerging as one of the few positives from an otherwise catastrophic campaign, he needs others to raise their respective efforts.