The Carolina Panthers remain the only winless team in the NFL, sitting at 0-5 heading into a Week 6 showdown with the Miami Dolphins.
Head coach Frank Reich’s plan for turning the ship around is to simplify everything.
“Every coach would tell you when you’re 0-5. Do more? No. The answer is do less,” he said. “Every coach in the history of the NFL. Hey, we’re 0-5, we’re 0-3, we’re 0-4, do less. Do less. Does that mean you gave him too much? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know the answer to that. I just know we got to get better.”
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In five seasons as head coach in Indianapolis, Reich had some wobbly starts, but 2023 marks his first time opening a season 0-5.
So far, everything has gone awry for the Panthers.
The Panthers have scored 18.2 points per game and have a -53 point margin through five tilts, both the worst by a Carolina crew through five games since 2010 (finished 2-14).
The offense with Bryce Young has been an amalgam of short throws, inconsistent play from the offensive line and a lack of running game to aid the young quarterback.
The first four games for the No. 1 overall pick have been a struggle. There have been flashes, but the rookie hasn’t put together a complete contest. Young has thrown for 750 yards, five pass touchdowns and four interceptions. He ranks in the bottom five in the NFL in pass YPG (187.5, 29th), passing yards per attempt (5.2, last) and passer rating (77.0, 29th).
Entering the season, the formula for Carolina to win with a rookie quarterback was to play solid defense, lean on the ground game and let Young grow.
The plan hit a reef out of the gate.
The Panthers rushing attack has been stymied, and the defense, while solid against the pass, struggles to pressure the QB consistently (tied for 29th in the league with 50 QB pressures) and has been gashed on the ground — allowing 140.8 rush yards per game (tied for 7th-most) and given up nine rush TDs (tied for most).
Reich believes that simplifying the entire operation, from soup to nuts, will help get the Panthers into the win column.
“So that’s what we do as coaches,” he said. “Not (just) for the quarterback, the whole team. We did it on offense; we did it on defense; we did it on special teams. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Do the basics. Let the players play fast. Sometimes, it takes that to do it, and sometimes, that was the answer, and that’s why. Sometimes, it just works out to get you back on track and in rhythm.”
The Panthers must play fast Sunday facing the ultra-speedy Dolphins, or they’ll get blown off the field.
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