For only a second — possibly for the primary time all season — the Carolina Panthers held the tiniest shard of hope of their fingers. Bryce Younger, the No. 1 draft pick out upon whom the Panthers have staked their long term, had guided Carolina via a 17-play, nine-minute landing pressure that pulled Carolina inside a ownership of the mighty Dallas Cowboys. The Panthers had transformed 3 other fourth downs at the pressure, which ended with a 4-yard landing go to Tommy Tremble, the tight finish with a reputation like a ‘50s pop megastar.
For a second, it used to be all proper there. After which it wasn’t.
At the subsequent ownership, Dallas easily carved in the course of the Panthers protection — 8 performs, 75 yards, 3:01 of sport clock — and Tony Pollard rolled into the tip zone to increase the result in 14. After which, at the very subsequent play from scrimmage, DaRon Bland stepped proper into Younger’s passing lane to notch his NFL-record-tying fourth pick out 6 of the season. That used to be just about that for Carolina, and the cheers of the 1000’s of bandwagon Cowboy fanatics in attendance have been the bleak icing atop the fetid cupcake.
No person critically anticipated Carolina to overcome Dallas; the Panthers have been 11.5-point underdogs in their very own development. However the way in which the Cowboys dispatched the Panthers — swarming over the offensive line find it irresistible used to be a sand fortress at top tide and shoving apart the protection find it irresistible used to be somewhat brother within the again backyard — that roughly humiliation stings, and lingers.
Upload to that the truth that Fox Sports activities’ Jay Glazer named Panthers head trainer Frank Reich as a person on a scorching seat, and the temper is irritating certainly in Charlotte. Reich used to be requested all through his Monday media availability if he used to be concerned with Glazer’s document. He attempted to comb it off, however in point of fact, what used to be he intended to mention?
“No, I’m simply involved in getting in a position for Tennessee,” Reich stated. “Fascinated about these days, entering that movie, be told from it, find out how we will trainer it higher, play it higher then temporarily get your eyes and ears and the entirety out against your subsequent opponent.”
It’d be perfect for Reich to concentrate on Carolina’s subsequent opponent, as a result of that specialize in the last few is a highway to insanity. Carolina is now assured its 6th instantly shedding season, essentially the most ever within the historical past of the franchise. And all six of the ones seasons have come underneath the possession of David Tepper, who went to nice lengths to make Carolina a contender once more — now not at some vague date sooner or later, however this season.
You understand the previous line about when boat homeowners are happiest: The day they purchase the boat, and the day they promote it. First-round draft alternatives, specifically those that have price vital draft capital to get, fall into the similar class. The Panthers aren’t reasonably in a position to phase techniques with Younger, however there’s indisputably the sense that this season hasn’t proceeded the way in which somebody anticipated.
Younger’s difficulties aren’t simply game-to-game, they’re sustained and endemic. Observe how his early profession is trending beneath such, uh, notables as Kenny Pickett, Mac Jones, Justin Fields and Zach Wilson:
The truth that C.J. Stroud, whom the Panthers bypassed to take Younger, is rewriting the script for all rookie QBs has to burn like ghost peppers in Charlotte. Upload to that the wincing ache of a vanished first-round draft pick out in 2024 — it belongs to the Bears by the use of the industry Carolina made to get Younger — or even a serene proprietor could be getting antsy. “Serene” would now not be a phrase to explain Tepper.
Like a poker participant whose chips are dwindling all of a sudden, the Panthers are making an increasing number of giant bets and drawing the similar horrible playing cards. Reich took over play-calling tasks from offensive coordinator Thomas Brown previous within the week, instituting a no-huddle shotgun offense designed to stay Younger from getting hit too speedy and too steadily … and Carolina replied by way of hanging up simplest 187 yards of overall offense and one landing towards 5 punts, a fumble and an interception. And Younger nonetheless took the ones six sacks.
“It’s very irritating,” Reich stated after the sport. “While you paintings exhausting and also you consider within the guys you’re doing it with, and I consider in our coaches and avid gamers, now not getting effects you wish to have is maddening.”
The Panthers got here into Week 11 ranked twenty ninth in scoring at simply 17 issues a sport. They’ve crowned 20 issues simply thrice this season, and haven’t reached 28 issues in 2023.
If there’s any salvation for the Panthers, it is available in their agenda: outdoor of a Week 17 sport towards Jacksonville, Carolina doesn’t play any in point of fact horrifying groups — Tennessee, Inexperienced Bay and the woeful remainder of the NFC South make up the remainder Panthers’ slate. A robust run via that chaff may not be sufficient for Carolina to recuperate a lot dignity, however proceeding losses will no doubt seal the workforce’s destiny.