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This is who the Carolina Panthers are

It isn’t pretty

Carolina Panthers v Chicago Bears Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Optimism is for other teams. The 2023 Carolina Panthers are worse than the 2018-2022 Carolina Panthers. They were all losing teams, but this team is in the running for the worst in franchise history. I don’t know if anybody is going to get fired heading into the long weekend, but it wouldn’t surprise me either way. Just like it wouldn’t surprise me that anybody hired to replace Scott Fitterer, Frank Reich, or any of their employees ended up being less effective than the current regime.

This franchise has been in search of an identity, whether they knew it or not, since 2018 and the only one they have come up with is a collection of compounding mistakes. From Ron Rivera’s cowardice dressed as convention, to Matt Rhule’s snake oil act, to this, the Panthers have suffered from poor leadership and poor decisions.

Now, Fitterer has compiled one of the worst rosters in the league and left the team with limited cap space and draft assets to improve it. Reich has shown little to no capacity to adjust to his team’s weaknesses. Instead, they’re looking worse with each passing week.

The offense, Reich’s specialty, converted half as many first downs as the Bears without penalties. They gained a season low 213 yards. The Bears are also a bad team. They were starting a rookie undrafted free agent at quarterback. That the Panthers couldn’t beat them means they can’t be expected to beat anybody. I don’t know what happened against the Houston Texans anymore, because this team looks incapable of playing professional football.

The lone bright spot on this team is Ejiro Evero’s defense. They put forth a respectable effort for as long as they can keep their breath in spite of an incredible, mounting series of injuries. But even that offers no comfort.

I’m tired of taking small joys out of this team’s losses. I’ve been exhausted by getting my hopes up for the Next Shiny Toy that David Tepper brings home. Most general managers, coaches, and quarterbacks in the NFL shouldn’t be judged off of nine games. Most should be given two seasons to really prove themselves.

I’ll say the jury is still out on Young, but I can no longer say the same for Reich or Fitterer. I also won’t automatically say the same about Tepper’s next hires. He, and anybody with his stamp of approval from here on out, is going to have to earn fans’ trust back, mine included.

Welcome back to being fans of the worst team in the NFL. Get comfortable.