Skip to contents
Why Your Team Sucks

Why Your Team Sucks 2020: Carolina Panthers

Getty Images

Some people are fans of the Carolina Panthers. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Carolina Panthers. This 2020 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.

Your team: Carolina Panthers

Your 2019 record: 5-11. The Kyle Allen season. Remember when Kyle Allen took over as starter in Week 3 because Cam Newton got hurt, won his first four games while tossing seven TDs and zero picks, and made every white Panthers fan in Charlotte ROCK HARD with his humble consistency? You do not, but that’s not Kyle Allen’s fault. That’s because 2019 feels like it happened 700 fucking years ago. King Arthur was in charge back then and shit.

Anyway, the Niners introduced poor Kyle Allen to reality with a 51-13 disembowelment in Week 8. This was always destined to be Kyle Allen’s lot in life. The second he trotted out onto the field, the Panthers’ season was over. After a dead cat bounce against Tennessee to recover from that Niners drubbing, this team went on to lose their final seven games of the season. They even blew a home game to Washington. At the end of it all, they punted head coach Ron Rivera out into the Atlantic.

Rivera’s days as coach were always numbered under new owner and #NotAllHedgeFundMen exemplar David Tepper. It’s incredible that the Panthers managed to replace a creepy dixiecrat hornball as owner with a whole other Worst Type Of Guy, but ownership of an NFL franchise does have its prerequisites. You can be a diddler, a finance demon, or the heir to a vast zipper fortune, but you cannot fall outside of those tightly delineated boundaries.

Tepper fired Rivera early in December so that he could find his replacement sooner rather than later. Thus, he ended up committing $60 million to…

Your coach: Former Baylor coach Matt Rhule. This you, Coach?

“I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’m perfect in every way, but I do know this. I’m a Christian man, and I go where God tells me to go. I do what God tells me to do, as best as I can. I felt like he led me here.”

Never trust any man who says God commanded him to go to the rape capital of Texas. Before signing with the Panthers for seven years, Rhule had already signed on for seven more years with Baylor last September. God, apparently, is a savvy negotiator. Let’s take a look at Rhule’s offense!

There were a few trends that stood out with Baylor’s offense. They were predominantly in shotgun, rarely getting under center unless they were running a quarterback sneak. Speaking of the sneak, Rhule loves to run that play on second-and-short, using it nearly twice per game in that situation. If not using the quarterback sneak, he encourages his offensive coordinator to call a direct quarterback run on second-and-short.

Okay now I understand why Tepper gave this man a mint. He fits right in with the Panthers’ tradition of murdering their own quarterback.

Your quarterback: ČÄM ÏŠ GØÑĒ ÄÑD THÄT ߣØ₩Š ßØRK ßØRK ßØRK!1!

One day, the Panthers will part ways with one of their players on GOOD terms. That has yet to occur, not even with the fucking greatest player in franchise history. Cam Newton gave his body, not to mention the bulk of his sanity, to Carolina. In return, they left him dangling for THREE FUCKING MONTHS before finally releasing him into dead job market. You can already see this organization transitioning from old school, plantation-style evil to McKinsey-hires-a-Hillsong-preacher evil. Thrilling shit.

You new quarterback is Teddy Bridgewater, a guy who once had to go to the hospital in two ambulances:

After going 5-0 as understudy to Drew Brees last season, the Panthers gave Bridgewater a big-ass three-year deal to go with Rhule’s seven-year deal. This is a calling card for guys like Tepper. They come into the league and dole out fat contracts and all the Schefties are like THIS MAN IS MAKING HIS PRESENCE KNOWN TO THE LEAGUE, and then a year later all those contracts magically turn into albatrosses. Dan Snyder made supposedly bold moves when he first acquired his team too, you know. I can’t say I’m impressed to see a guy with all the money in the fucking world spend some of it. Like, I know that impresses the Rooney family and other rich skinflints who think paying healthcare to employees counts as a “splurge,” but the rest of us could give half a fuck.

Your backup is second-year man Will Grier. Congrats to white Carolina fans on having a NEW disposable white backup for misplacing all their hopes.

What’s new that sucks: I met Christian McCaffrey this summer and failed to ask him if he can name any of his teammates besides Bridgewater right now. I bet he can’t. Why would he? The coach is gone. The QB is gone. The Panthers’ best defender retired years after he should have. Eric Reid was cut years after Jerry Richardson could have had the IMMENSE pleasure of doing it himself. Greg Olsen fled to Seattle despite having a cushy job in the Fox booth waiting for him. Gerald McCoy is gone after just one season. This iteration of the Panthers is built with all the lasting integrity of a set on the Warner Brothers lot. OH WOW THEY HAVE AN EXPENSIVE COACH AND QUARTERBACK! LET’S SEE THE INSIDE OF THE PLACE!

*****TRIPS OVER A ROLL OF GAFFER’S TAPE*****

There’s a smattering of craft service options past the garish façade. The Saints let Eli Apple sign here, because no team ever needs Eli Apple. Stephen Weatherly arrives from the Vikings as a guy who impresses everyone by getting four sacks as a backup and then turns to a JAG when he’s moved up to the first team. And Russell Okung is here from the Chargers. Gonna be an emotional moment when the Panthers release all of these players by burning everything inside their respective lockers. That’s the Marty Hurney touch.

What has always sucked: No team hates its own players more than Carolina. That’s a high bar to clear, given the existence of the Patriots, and the Lions, and the Texans, and the Jaguars, and the Chargers, and the entire NFC East. But it’s true. The Panthers have the bedside manner of the fucking Night Stalker. GM Marty Hurney made his bones with this team by giving way too much money to 67 different running backs. The Panthers have been allergic to treating players well ever since. In between Hurney tenures, they hired Dave Gettleman to make everyone feel terrible about themselves and then rudely shoved HIM out the door.

So Hurney is back now to repent for his formerly compassionate ways. Jerry Richardson was a diseased pile of shit, but Tepper’s only gonna SEEM nicer by comparison. This century has already proven that there’s virtually no difference between old money and new money. Money infects assholes in the same way, regardless of age. It inflates their self-worth and eradicates their fondness for anyone else around them. I don’t need to watch the Rhule Panthers play a single fucking game to know this’ll all end in a form of acrimony that’ll be 10 percent more understated than it was under previous regimes.

As always, North Carolina operates in the shadows of more openly deranged states like Texas and Alabama, but it’s essentially a microcosm in America is in that it’s a lovely place that contains a majority of normal people, but is run by a coterie of racist shitbags and wolves in preacher’s clothing. Complete waste of a place. Also John B is a dipshit.

What might not suck: BYE BYE YOU RACIST OLD SACK OF SHIT.

Ratto says: “Cam Newton is gone. Luke Kuechly is gone. Ron Rivera is gone. Jerry Richardson is gone. Jerry Richardson’s statue is gone. All there is, to be honest as well as lazy, is the almost unbearably earnest Christian McCaffrey, who if he’s lucky won’t been worn down the way Newton was. Of course, he’s a running back who also catches the ball and got hit roughly 360 times last year, so Newton is probably a meaningful case study. In other important news, one of their cornerbacks, Stantley Thomas-Oliver III, was clearly born in 1758, and Matt Rhule’s contract has already gotten Kyle Shanahan a raise. Fun rebuild, guys. Oh, and the David Tepper statue should be of him with a leashed team of ferrets.”

HEAR IT FROM PANTHERS FANS!

Richard:

We’re gonna watch Cam win a Super Bowl with the fucking Patriots and it is exactly what we deserve.

Rob:

We broke our generational talent QB through years of criminal play calling and offensive line negligence, and our dumbshit racist fans couldn’t be happier he’s gone.

Sean:

We swapped from a QB with a shoulder held together with duct tape to a QB with a knee held together with Play-doh.

Ric:

At least the statue is gone. It’s currently in a women’s restroom.

Zack:

I’m still mad at how they fucked over Smitty.

Brendan:

I’ve been a Panthers fan my entire life. Having just moved to Charlotte last year, my GF decided to treat me with a primetime Thursday night game against the Bucs for my first live NFL game. It turned out to be Cam’s last game ever with this club. where he missed about 20 open receivers and our season effectively ended in Week 2. Nice.

Harrison:

Flash back a year ago, before the current hellscape and Cam Newton is finally healthy again. Fans were excited for all of 12 seconds into the FIRST preseason game against the Patriots when Cam holds on to the ball for no reason and takes an avoidable hit. The 73 of us who actually care enough to watch preseason football collectively held our breath as he hobbled off the field. FEAR NOT THOUGH! Our team trainer, Dr. Kevorkian and Coach Rivera claim it’s not that serious and he’ll be good to go in the regular season. They hold this stance through two whole games until even Stevie Wonder could see that he was injured and shouldn’t be anywhere near a football field.

We turn the reins over to Kyle Allen, who then sequentially turns it over to the other team. Seriously, the amount of times that Kyle Allen’s tiny hands were discussed, because of his incessant fumbling, on sports talk would make Donald Trump blush. The great thing is that half of Panthers’ fandom loved Kyle Allen almost as much as Jerry Richardson loved jeans because he didn’t dance and had no discernable personality and is white. 

Given all this change and fact that Panthers will play in front of marginally smaller crowds this year than usual, it would make for a perfect time to be terrible and tank. There is a generational QB prospect who plays his college football two hours away. Therefore, we are guaranteed to win six to seven games and be in the perfect position to draft a high-quality long snapper.

Honestly, I’ve never done a WYTS before but felt I needed to this year because with Luke and Cam gone, I assumedDefector will be like the rest of America and completely forget the Panthers exist. This is your reminder that we’re still here and still miserable, just now with less Jerry Richardson statues outside the stadium.

At least we have the Hornets to look forward to. We did, after all, just land the 3rd overall pick, which is the best thing that’s happened to Charlotte sports in over two years. I mean the last time we had this pick we came away with *checks notes* Adam Morrison. Fuck.

Preston:

They have won three straight division titles but they have never had back to back winning seasons.

Our mascot once jumped on a live ball while a game was going on.

This offseason they lost or got rid of their entire core. The best defensive player became the poster child for concussions in a chilling sequence on primetime late night football.

They are in a division with Brady, Brees, and Ryan, and even after spending every pick on the draft on defense, will still give up 40 points a game.

The franchise’s best QB in its short history was allowed to walk away four years removed from an MVP season, and has now joined the Patriots Empire where Belichick has somehow moved from one MVP to the next at QB. Apologies for when they win it all again.

Outside of the stadium there are big Panther statues at each entrance. On the statues are a list of all of the original PSL owners. Bill Belichick is listed as one of the original Panthers PSL owners, and I think we all believe this was totally on the up and up and never used for anything nefarious.

They rushed to sign a college coach to try and beat DAVID GETTLEMAN to him, so this move is definitely not going to work out. The best offseason move wasn’t even football related. It was the owner using the Black Lives Matter protests as cover to remove the Jerry Richardson Shrine.

AJay:

In the year 2020, they decided that the face of their franchise should be a fucking running back. Don’t get me wrong…CMC is legit and I take nothing away from him. But if history is any indicator, they’ll run him and all his talent into the ground and then he’ll retire or get picked up by another team that understands how to actually win. 

Even though some of the best Patriots players are opting out of the season, Belichick (who at this point pisses confetti) will find a way to get close enough to the Super Bowl with Cam Newton and have a real chance of winning. 

Seriously…fuck Marty Hurney.

Josh:

Once it became obvious that the Panthers weren’t going to ride it out for one more year with Cam and instead let him walk, I made my peace with having to cheer for him on another team…as long as it wasn’t THAT team.

Let’s see, the Chargers desperately needed a new face of the franchise as they moved into their new stadium, why not the most sartorially flamboyant player in the NFL? Nah, we’ll just draft Dan McGwire 2.0. How about the Titans? Nah, I’m sure Ryan Tannehill is suddenly elite, let’s re-up with him. Broncos? Nope, can’t afford to hurt Drew Lock’s feelings. Bears? Sorry, we’d rather give away assets for the privilege of overpaying for Nick Foles’ giant hog. Of course, that only left one team, and for poor Cam’s sake it happens to have one of the few fanbases more racist than the one he’s leaving. Now, if I don’t want to root for Cam to fail, I have to live with another year of listening to Simmons gloat about the Pats waltzing to another 12-4 record. Fuck Tepper with Matt Ruehle’s giant-baby dentist bib.  

Instead of paying mid-tier money to the greatest player in franchise history, they decided to pay essentially the same amount of money to a very nice young man who has overcome a ton of adversity yet nonetheless has an arm that even Chad Pennington laughs at.

Michael:

The Panthers are going to be so garbage this year that I won’t be that upset when the NFL season gets canceled. I honestly know more players on the Bills than the current Panthers roster.

Cam Newton and Greg Olsen join the long list of beloved players run out of town on a rail; It’s really the only consistent identity of this team, kicking beloved veterans to the curb.  Kuechly managed to avoid this fate by retiring.  If McCaffrey isn’t released in 3 years, he’ll be traded for a practice squad punter and a 6th rounder.

I like Teddy Bridgewater; I’m grateful he’s not playing under Rivera, who’d kill him by week 3. But there is no way the poor bastard is going to win many games, no matter how many points he puts up, with a defense that was predominately built from one draft class and guys who have generic faces in Madden. 

Did I mention we signed a XFL player? I don’t have much faith that a dude who’s most well know quality is dressing like a Home Depot clerk is the guy to save this wreck.

Marc:

The most depressed I’ve ever been at a football game was a 10-7 Panthers VICTORY on Christmas Eve 2006 when Michael Vick had 141 total yards and a 22.7 QB Rating and 97-year old man Chris Weinke won the game with a TD and 32 total pass yards. And this was in the Georgia Dome. Weather was not a factor.

That’s still 10 times as exciting as anything the Panthers will do in 2020 because the way this year is going, Christian McCaffrey will (rightfully) opt out and if he doesn’t, he and Teddy Bridgewater will probably both tear all the ligaments in their bodies on the first play from scrimmage.

In other news, living in The Carolinas (this term is gross) has never been worse for people with brains. The Panthers have been cowards for refusing to commit to a Carolina for over 25 years, and to be honest they’d probably be better off if they dropped the name altogether. South Carolina remains South Carolina, but it ain’t like NC has been paradise over the last decade, with the General Assembly working hard to prevent Black people from voting, women from having healthcare, and students from getting an education. The teacher pay situation (and lack of medication expansion) wasn’t bad enough, so the state treasurer decided to essentially try and strip like 700,000 state employees of their healthcare last year. Awesome stuff. If ultra-fundamentalist GOP candidate Dan Forest – who hasn’t done any work in his role as lieutenant governor, preferring to just campaign all the time – I’m probably going to have to ship my daughter to live with my brother in The Netherlands.

At least poor Ron Rivera gout out and probably feels like he is better off with Dan Snyder.

Jake:

Cam Newton was a dynamic, charismatic, dominant quarterback who carried this sad sack franchise to more playoff berths than they deserved. For that, he got a dozen concussions, two career-altering injuries, and a one-way ticket out of town despite having a very affordable year left on his deal. 

We never deserved Cam. He’s gonna be playing in the Super Bowl next February with the God Damn Patriots while Teddy Bridgewater dinks-and-dunks his way to 6 wins, which will be just enough wins to not get the next franchise QB in the draft, but putrid enough to continue wasting a fairly talented offense that’s beginning to get extremely expensive. Good thing we didn’t just invest mega long-term cash in a running back, a thing no team has ever regretted!

Luke Kuechly looked at this tire fire of an organization and decided he’d rather get as far away from it as possible. I can’t say I blame him. We routinely let Cam get his ass kicked by the tackling dummies we set up as his offensive line, all while giving him the privilege of throwing to the likes of Brenton Bersin, Corey Brown and Devin Funchess. Tedd Ginn is probably the 3rd best receiver Cam ever had in Carolina. Can you believe that shit?

In the past 7 years, Carolina has dumped or had the following players retire with gas still in the tank:

Cam Newton

Luke Keuchly

Thomas Davis

Steve Smith

DeAngelo Williams

Josh Norman

Greg Olsen 

Ryan Kalil

Jordan Gross

The majority of those players went on to make us deeply regret losing them, often in spectacular fashion. And we wonder why the 2015 team was a flash in the pan. We deserve what we’re gonna get. 

Fuck David Tepper with his brass balls desk ornament. 

Submissions for the NFL previews are closed. Next up: Arizona Cardinals.