Will the Carolina Panthers make drastic changes during their 2023 bye week?

Some changes could be coming...

David Tepper
David Tepper / Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
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Could the Carolina Panthers make any drastic changes during their bye week after a disastrous 0-6 start to the 2023 campaign?

Most people predicted the Carolina Panthers to get thumped by the Miami Dolphins in Week 6. Despite getting out to a 14-point lead early, once they lost momentum it became pretty obvious Frank Reich's men weren't going to get it back.

This leaves the Panthers sitting at 0-6 heading into the bye week. After general manager Scott Fitterer declared that he'd built a roster capable of dropping in a quarterback and taking off, this is a nightmare scenario with plenty of blame attached.

There is a lot of hard work ahead and not much time to make changes. How drastic these will be is anyone's guess, but team owner David Tepper is renowned for being impulsive - mostly to the Panthers' detriment.

Carolina Panthers plan to keep faith with Frank Reich

Many fans are calling for a scapegoat to be removed from their duties after such an inept start. But according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the head coach won't be one of them so soon into his tenure.

Although Reich is under increasing pressure, the insider reported that Carolina's figurehead will be judged on Bryce Young's development given the amount the Panthers invited in their new man under center. And in fairness, the No. 1 pick has made encouraging strides of late.

Tepper will oversee operations while allowing his football men to do the hard yards. This was almost the complete opposite of what Reich declared surrounding the billionaire's involvement recently.

"The future of Reich and his coaching staff is tied to how those changes work and the improvement shown by their No. 1 overall pick. With so much invested in the Alabama star -- not only a top pick but also one acquired through a trade involving multiple first-rounders -- a staff deemed to be QB-friendly must now get the most out of Young. The coaches are well aware of this, based on conversations with those involved. In his business life and his NFL life, Tepper is a manager. He allows his people to work, only stepping in when he feels he needs to. Perhaps the time was right for the league's only winless team. The reality is, this is an organization that was convicted on taking Young No. 1 overall, from the scouts to the coaches to the owner. In time, that conviction could be proven right. But it's clear improvement must come from all parties."

Ian Rapoport, NFL.com

It seems as if the finger-pointing has already begun. Fitterer deserves to come under the microscope for his handling of personnel - especially considering the bold statements made by the front office figure before a competitive down was played.

Fitterer got the benefit of the doubt for some suspect moves he was complicit in during the Matt Rhule era. The former head coach had the final say on everything as part of a contract stipulation, but it's been a full calendar year since his firing and the Panthers are somehow in a worse spot record-wise.

Carolina Panthers could trade assets before the deadline

That is a damning indictment on Fitterer and others in the front office. The handling of Brian Burns' contract situation is another dark stain, but there's been no inkling of the general manager being in any specific danger of losing his job from beat writers.

On the playing side, it's a different story. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated recently reported that the perception around the league is that Carolina could hold a fire sale before the trade deadline, with a number of established names specifically revealed by the insider as potentially on the block.

"Conversation there starts with Brian Burns. He’s up after this year and owed more than eight figures for the remainder of the season (prorated portion of his $16.01 million). But he’s also just 25 and plays a premium position. Last year the Panthers turned down an absolute haul (a 2023 third-rounder and first-rounders in ’24 and ’25) to get him. And the Panthers and Burns haven’t gotten close to striking a long-term deal. After that, there are three guys I’ve heard are available—safety Jeremy Chinn, receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. and corner Donte Jackson. Chinn is an interesting hybrid linebacker who’d fit some teams better than others, has lost playing time in the switch to Ejiro Evero’s scheme and is in a contract year. Marshall’s a second-rounder who has talent but has yet to really find his footing as a pro. And Jackson’s a really good corner who’s signed through 2024 at a reasonable price."

Albert Breer, Sports Illustrated

This seems like the most realistic avenue for change. The Panthers are going nowhere fast without a first-round pick to call upon, so sacrificing assets for draft capital is something struggling teams normally contemplate in pursuit of forming a plan for sustained success long-term.

The problem with this is Fitterer's draft choices, which haven't exactly been stellar. Whether he'll get the chance to select another class from the college ranks remains to be seen.

Another area where change could arrive is schematically. Carolina just doesn't boast the personnel to run Ejiro Evero's 3-4 defense effectively - they don't have a genuine nose tackle and although injuries aren't helping, the coordinator is trying to fit a lot of square pegs into round holes.

Offensively, it needs to be more creative. We saw glimpses of this early on against the Dolphins with pre-snap motions and misdirections, which seemed to suit Young down to the ground.

Things went back to the mundane once the scripted plays came to an end. Changing play-calling from Reich to Thomas Brown is a definite possibility, but scheming around Young's strengths rather than forcing the Heisman Trophy winner to adapt to archaic concepts that are not in keeping with the modern-day NFL trends.

Update: Reich has indeed reportedly given Brown play-calling responsibilities, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network.

Either way, a lot of soul-searching is needed. All fans can do is sit back and wait to see how things unfold.

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