Restoring the feeling: Carolina Panthers seemingly have their swagger back

Eddy Pineiro
Eddy Pineiro / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

It seems as if the Carolina Panthers officially have their swagger back after the team's early offseason workouts reached their successful conclusion.

The final segment of mandatory minicamp has reached its conclusion, with Carolina Panthers players and coaches adjourning for about six weeks before reuniting in Spartanburg for training camp. A welcome break for all involved given the intensity and magnitude of these installs were noticeably greater than in recent years.

The heavy installation aspect was to be expected as the Panthers coaching staff implemented new systems and verbiage on both sides of the ball. The intensity and overall feeling, however, might be the bigger takeaway.

Imagine yourself getting ready for a big second date - not a first date – that’s a lot of nerves and anxiety without knowing if there’s even going to be enough chemistry to spark enjoyment. But the second date after a compellingly successful first rendezvous? That’s the one.

Your friends ask why you’re so giddy, what’s up with the big Kool-Aid smile? You have butterflies in your stomach, still, but they’re of the strictly optimistic nature. You know the fit is there, now you get to find out exactly how hot this fire can burn.

That’s what I compare the vibe of these Panthers' spring activities to – that blissful, unflappable feeling.

From the early days of OTAs, we were fed video clips of players going full force in head-to-head drills – teammates surrounding the participants, cheering vivaciously. Smiles, hearty handshakes, music, and hugs abound. The mood was set in Charlotte.

Carolina Panthers are shifting the culture

While it was certainly a time of merriment, the enthusiasm was coupled with a strong work ethic. The players seemed to be fully bought in on what head coach Frank Reich was selling.

Albeit from a distance, and only viewing the parts that the local media were permitted to share, it still felt… different. And it got me to thinking about just how hefty of a contribution confidence and happiness can be – for people in general, let alone professional athletes rebounding from hard times.

Coach Reich was asked during his final media engagement of minicamp, what was the message he relayed to his players about the upcoming break. As it turns out, he didn’t have to say anything to them.

Panthers legend and former linebacker, Thomas Davis Sr., was on hand and the head coach asked the bigger-than-life personality if he would say a few parting words. Reich described the moment as such via Yahoo Sports.

"I mean, you guys know Thomas. My goodness, the guy’s incredible. So he comes out there and he just reminded us of the standard. Like, he reminded us of the standard that has been set here—before he got here, the standard they set. And it’s really on us as a team, players and coaches, to kinda get the Panthers back to that status of where we wanna be. And that’s our responsibility."

Frank Reich via Yahoo! Sports

And it’s a responsibility the players and coaches are evidently embracing with open arms.

When D.J. Moore, was traded, the immediate aftermath was aimed at how desolate the receiving room appeared to be. Terrace Marshall Jr. has made significant strides by all accounts. Sheena Quick of FOX Sports Radio1340 has been championing the third-year pro’s hard work and prowess throughout the spring.

Marshall and rookie wideout Jonathan Mingo, along with others, have consistently remained on the field after the practice sessions have formally ended, getting extra work, and honing their craft.

Many fans were down on the former second-round pick during his second season. Perhaps it was a combination of lofty expectations and resentment toward seeing other young wideouts making significant impacts on their respective teams.

Bryce Young embodies new Carolina Panthers vision

The confidence he gained, with much attribution to former interim head coach Steve Wilks, getting more playing time and targets in the latter part of 2022 has carried over. Seeing the vision of this new offense, led by offensive coordinator Thomas Brown and quarterback sensation Bryce Young - it’s reignited the flame.

Speaking of Young – his arrival has had a massive impact on the confidence of this club, as well. Teammates have talked about the former Heisman trophy winner having “it”- how his throws have been on the money and easy to catch.

You don’t have to look any further than the tremendous quote Brian Burns gave in response to Vashti Hurt of Carolina Blitz via Sports Illustrated, asking him for his early impressions on the signal-caller.

"It's hard not to like that kid. He put quite a stamp on the locker room. He walks around with this kind of humble, but I know I'm the s*** type of swag. He knows he got it but he's humble with it. He's always happy."

Brian Burns via Sports Illustrated

That confidence, no matter how mild-mannered it presents from Young, is the first time we’ve seen that trait in a Panthers quarterback since former NFL MVP Cam Newton. I’m sure we can all recall the effect his intangibles had on this franchise.

Other players poised to quiet doubters, including Marquis Haynes Sr., Yetur Gross-Matos, and Tommy Tremble, will get their fair shot with this regime. They’ve put the work in, there’s no questioning that. Haynes Sr., specifically, has received much acclaim for his showings thus far.

Revelations about the previous staff, their shortcomings, and lack of preparation – all just worries of the past. In fact, they only shine the light brighter on the optimism and confidence that these players are going to work with every day now that they’re being coached by qualified personnel.

The emotional and mental toll that the sport of professional football takes on a person can often be glossed over. Especially when fans look for reasons why a player may be underperforming between the lines.

Plenty remains to be seen, as this young Carolina Panthers team is yet to don full pads and play the game at the actual highest level of competition. But the shift in culture is already here. There’s no denying the presence of hope, as Reich fittingly declared after the final mandatory minicamp session via Augusta Stone from the team's website.

"I'm excited that there's a lot of positive energy. I feel it in the building. I feel it on the field with players. I feel it in the community with our fans, and I think our players feel that as well. Having been around this game for a while, I think you take the mode of 'we've got a lot,' we want to prove it every day."

Frank Reich via

It's not a quantitative ingredient or skillset. It’s a foundation.

The strongest fixtures have the sturdiest foundations. The Carolina Panthers are hopeful that this coaching staff, their soft-spoken and cold-blooded franchise quarterback, alongside their confidence-building culture will be the foundation for this team being a contending fixture in the NFL, in both the immediate and the foreseeable future.