When Exactly Are The Panthers Supposed To Start This Winning Thing They Want?

If the Carolina Panthers want to begin winning, it seems like from a distance the team is moving in the wrong direction as a business franchise. They fired a young, promising offensive coordinator who seems to be willing to be more aggressive, since the offense is built to be aggressive. The head coach may or may not be on the hot seat. There is no trust in any of the young quarterbacks and there was no real opportunity to even try them, except Sam Darnold. The decline defense is wounded. The best players in the organization are either injured or were added in the middle of the season or both. So what can the Carolina Panthers do to turn this team into a 10-7 franchise?

"We don't necessarily need a 10-7 record"

Don't lie to yourselves. The Panthers are out of time and have no chance of long-term success without a big finish to this season. The owner does not seem to have the patience to handle allowing Matt Rhule or anyone else to grow. The Panthers may only be good for a year or two again, and this might need to be one of those years unless a miracle happens.

A 10-7 record can happen if Cam Newton is allowed to be Cam Newton and Matt Rhule is locked out of his offense's playbook. I'm not saying Cam Newton has to call his own plays. I'm saying Matt Rhule cannot be allowed to call his own plans for the offense. He can make suggestions for designing plays. But he cannot call any plays for the offense. He's got to trust his team to do what they are built to do. The same is true for him in reverse. Rhule has to be trusted to manage the players and the situations there. Tepper has to trust in the new coach to grow for a while before it gets good. The good news is that it can be great. With enough work, it can even be great right now.

The Panthers have the element of surprise. Everyone including Panthers fans expect the team to be lousy. Good. That's a great place to make everyone think. Beating Atlanta? "Oh it's just Atlanta." Beating Buffalo next? "The Bills didn't take them seriously enough and they're getting exposed now after New England jumped ahead of them". That would leave three division games with a 7-7 record.

DJ Moore has to become everything Steve Smith says he could be starting with the Falcons game. Whatever bad happened this season, Moore has to open a new era of greatness in Panthers history that unites with some old school lightning from his quarterback. The Defense has to be the envy of the NFL again. The Carolina Panthers have to do what the team knows can be done.

Playoffs or not, a 9-8/10-7 finish might be enough to produce the several years of greatness the team waited so long to build.

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