Is David Tepper's constant meddling holding the Carolina Panthers back?

New regime, same David Tepper...

Bryce Young and David Tepper
Bryce Young and David Tepper / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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Is team owner David Tepper's meddling in football affairs holding the Carolina Panthers back from genuine progression under the new regime?

As the old saying goes, a fish rots from the head down. Despite all the changes made by the Carolina Panthers since Matt Rhule was mercifully removed from his head coaching duties one year to the day, nothing seems to be getting better in terms of the on-field product.

Sure, the Panthers have a franchise quarterback to build around after striking their daring trade to No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. But the claims that this team was ready to drop in a productive rookie under center and take off before the campaign was nothing short of delusional based on what's transpired through five weeks.

The Panthers are disjointed, sapped of any confidence, and lacking the execution needed on both sides of the football. Carolina is at 0-5 and likely going to be 0-6 at the bye given their next challenge at the Miami Dolphins is beyond steep, so major adjustments are needed during their extended rest period to get this ship trending in the right direction.

Fans are upset and understandably so. There's been no sign of winning football for years - the glory days of 2015 that almost brought an elusive first Super Bowl have been replaced by perennial underachievement and suspect decisions from top to bottom.

David Tepper must oversee, not micromanage, Carolina Panthers' football operations

The fingers are already being pointed in different directions. You couldn't get David Tepper away from a camera during the offseason, but once again the billionaire owner has turned into a recluse as everything crumbles in Charlotte.

This has been the tale of the tape since Tepper bought the Panthers for a then-record $2.2 billion from Jerry Richardson. Promises of winning and turning the franchise into an industry leader followed, but Carolina's been languishing among the NFL's bottom-feeders throughout his ownership tenure to date.

Tepper is more hands-on than most owners, it seems. He throws his weight around in football matters with his analytical approach that's brought little in the way of success, which doesn't seem to be relinquishing under Frank Reich based on his recent comments via USA Today Sports.

"He’s super competitive. Wants to bring a winner to the Carolinas. He wants it now. Wants it now. And pushes me and pushes us to that end. He wants to do whatever it takes and turn over every stone. Turn it as much as he has to to produce winning football. So, I appreciate those conversations—they’re always very challenging. He’s a super-competitive person. He’s not gonna sit idly by. There’s different philosophies in ownership. Some owners kinda stay away and don’t engage a whole lot. Other owners do. And his philosophy is he’s gonna engage. And listen, it’s only been a short experience, but it’s been a really good experience. It hasn’t been fun. It’s not fun. Those meetings—I wouldn’t characterize them as fun meetings. But those meetings make me better and I trust they make us better."

Frank Reich via USA Today Sports

It looked as if Tepper was on a road to redemption of sorts this offseason. The hiring of Reich was largely well-received despite many believing Steve Wilks had done more than enough to become the team's permanent head coach and his lavish spending to form the most accomplished coaching staff imaginable is further evidence of at least attempting to put the correct infrastructure in place.

But he cannot seem to keep his nose out of matters that shouldn't concern him. Tepper is taking the Jerry Jones approach to ownership - but when was the last time the Dallas Cowboys got a ring? Almost three decades ago despite being hyped-up beyond recognition every year.

He's paying people great wealth to make football decisions. Tepper should be overseeing things rather than voicing an opinion, which could be causing inner doubt and making Reich coach scared, to a certain extent.

That might sound a little drastic, but who's to say the scenario isn't playing out given how poor the results are right now?

The Panthers are currently on course to get the No. 1 overall pick in 2024 and immediately give it to the Chicago Bears. Young looks the part - albeit with mistakes attached within a scheme that looks archaic compared to others around the league - but everything around him is below par and it could take some time to mold a team worthy of contention.

Tepper's meddling hasn't done the Panthers any favors throughout his stint as Carolina's owner so far. But his impatience and desire to be the smartest guy in the room are causing the foundations to shake once again.

Good owners let the football men make football decisions. A notion that is seemingly lost on Tepper, who genuinely still believes that his business acumen holds weight when it comes to NFL roster construction.

That, above all else, is a recipe for disaster. One that's unfolding before our very eyes.

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