Panthers owner David Tepper’s hands-on approach could doom franchise

The Carolina Panthers are the worst team in the NFL through five weeks at 0-5. 

The players aren’t getting the job done, neither is the coaching staff led by head coach Frank Reich. 

However, the main culprit for Carolina’s woes is owner David Tepper, who bought the team in 2018.

Instead of leaving the X’s and O’s and personnel decisions to Reich and general manager Scott Fitterer, there’s increasing evidence that Tepper has too much control of football operations. 

“There’s different philosophies in ownership,” Reich said, per the Charlotte Observer. “Some owners kind of stay away and don’t engage a whole lot. Other owners do. And his philosophy is he’s gonna engage. And listen, it’s only been a short experience, but it’s been a really good experience. It hasn’t been fun. It’s not fun. Those meetings aren’t — I wouldn’t characterize them as fun meetings. But those meetings make me better and I trust they make us better.”

Those meetings between Reich and Tepper are likely not making the team better. Nor are other choices that Tepper’s made. 

In March, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Tepper loved Alabama QB Bryce Young while Reich preferred Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud. The Panthers would go on to draft Young with the No. 1 overall pick while Stroud went No. 2 overall to the Houston Texans. Young looks overmatched, throwing for five touchdowns and four interceptions with a lackluster passer rating of 77.0. Stroud on the other hand has been phenomenal. Stroud broke the record for pass attempts without an interception to start a career on Sunday and has thrown for 1,461 yards and seven touchdowns overall. 

“He wants to bring a winner to the Carolinas,” Reich said of Tepper. “He wants it now. He pushes me, and pushes us, to that end. He wants to do whatever it takes, turn over every stone, churn it as much as he has to produce winning football.”

If Tepper wants to win, doing whatever it takes means he should take a couple of steps back. There are philosophies he has that are responsible for Carolina’s poor roster construction which has led to their abysmal record. For example, Tepper had a ludicrous rationale as to why they didn’t invest much in the receiver position this offseason after trading away their star receiver D.J. Moore and two first-round picks for the No. 1 overall pick they used on Bryce Young.  

“The way he throws the ball, the way he’s a point guard, how you can use the different players on the field, how you might not have to have as many elite receivers because he’s the point guard”, Tepper said in April. “He distributes the ball to people with routes. We can save some money there, we can save money in other places and put that money on the defensive side of the ball.”

Per Spotrac, Carolina’s WR unit accounts for just 4.82 percent of its 2023 salary cap. Tepper should consider spending a little more. Carolina ranks No. 31 in passing yards per attempt (5.5) and Bryce Young ranks dead last in ESPN’s QBR at No. 32 (28.6). 

There’s a chance Tepper whiffed on the QB position when he chose Young over Stroud and set Young up for failure by not providing him talented weapons at wideout. 33-year-old Adam Thielen has been inserted as their WR1, and he’s more of a WR2 or WR3 at best at this point in his career. 

It takes money to win championships and Tepper isn’t investing his wisely. 

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