We’re scrapping the Three Storylines to Watch series for the time being because there is only one storyline left to watch for the Carolina Panthers going forwards: The flames under general manager Scott Fitterer and head coach Frank Reich’s seats.
Instead, we’re going to talk about one thing that could presage a Panthers victory on Sunday. First, let’s acknowledge the incredibly low likelihood that these Panthers with this leadership are going to pull the upset of the century. This is about how the Panthers are going to win, it is about an unlikely series of events that could technically, possibly occur en route to a Panthers victory.
The foundation of any win in the NFL, which may come as news to many previous Panthers head coaches, is scoring points. Specifically, scoring more points than one’s opponents. The most common way of doing that is to advance the ball down the field while your own offense is in possession of it and then have the player actively possessing the ball enter their opponent’s end zone. Perhaps the Panthers need to be reminded of these basics.
What is standing between the Panthers and that basic offensive function is their lack of an effective running game. Much blame has been placed on Reich’s staunch belief in a zone blocking scheme that his players are not executing effectively. I’m not sure where they disconnect between philosophy and execution is occurring, but the results are obvious.
That said, if the team starts firing on all cylinders or Reich finally approves a simplification of the scheme and the running game takes off, then so to should the rest of the offense.
Say what you want about dated route combinations and unimaginative play calls, a working running game will make everything else flow more smoothly. It is the first step to the Panthers being the architects of their own wins and not simply the beneficiaries of, in this week’s case, Dallas soiling their own sheets through four quarters.
Again, I want to stress how incredibly unlikely this is. Bet against the Panthers until they have new leadership or the current leadership has shown signs of life for multiple weeks in a row.