Skip to main content

NFL+: The Insiders

Panthers' future will be guided by how QB Bryce Young, offense develops under Frank Reich

Sign up for NFL+ to watch The Insiders every Monday-Friday at noon ET for more exclusive reports.

As the Panthers have gotten off to a 0-5 start, they've also dealt with a slew of injuries and a national conversation about topics that arose during a recent news conference from head coach Frank Reich.

Last week, Carolina made a major alteration to its offense ahead of its Week 5 game against the Lions, simplifying the verbiage and minimizing Bryce Young's pre-snap responsibilities. Play-calling duties will remain Reich's responsibility, however, as the Panthers enter a crucial stretch of games.

After all, 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.

With the Texans' C.J. Stroud thriving early on and Colts' Anthony Richardson showing immense promise despite his injuries, Young's start has been more uneven. Young's passer rating is just 77.0, with five touchdowns and four interceptions.

The early thought is that Young was given too much to begin the season; too much at the line, too many checks, too much responsibility. Even all-time great QBs like Peyton Manning and Troy Aikman struggled as rookies, likely taking on more than they were ready for. With Young, that could have led the known-to-be fast processor to play slower than the team would've expected.

So last week, with his pre-snap work stripped down, Young was better, and the improvement was clear as he threw for a season-high 247 yards with three touchdown passes against the Lions. The hope is that continues. While Reich has discussed eventually handing over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, he's adapted the way he's called plays for his rookie QB. It going better last week was a huge positive.

It will be tough sledding for the Panthers today against the Dolphins, especially without running back Miles Sanders (shoulder) and safeties Xavier Woods (hamstring) and Vonn Bell (quad), among others. After a Week 7 bye, Carolina will then host the Texans and Colts before going on the road to face Chicago, all of which could be considered winnable games.

Reich also made some news this past week by openly discussing the role of Panthers owner David Tepper and the weekly meetings they have during the season.

Reich said that while it's been a positive experience, "It hasn't been fun, it's not fun. Those meetings, I wouldn't characterize them as fun meetings." It was the kind of admission few coaches would openly make.

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.

In truth, any meetings for an 0-5 squad aren't fun. 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.

Related Content