Some people are fans of the Carolina Panthers. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Carolina Panthers. This 2022 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Carolina Panthers.
Your 2021 record: 5-12, after starting 3-0. Every year, one otherwise hapless team gets hot out of the gate against a handful of even worse teams, and then the bottom falls out in October. That was you guys. GOTTA LOVE THE EFFORT THOUGH.
I have no idea what the fuck the 2021 Panthers were doing, and neither did they. They had the second best defense in football in terms of yardage, which would have been cool had they not also had the third worst offense in football. They traded a second rounder and more for Sam Darnold, only to watch him rank as the third worst quarterback in the entire league, according to PFF. They traded for Stephon Gilmore and only won two games after doing so. They watched Christian McCaffrey get hurt AGAIN. Their rookie phenom corner also got hurt and remains so. They blew a 15-3 lead to an Eagles team that was pathologically incapable of passing the ball. You know how hard it is to blow a lead to a run-only team? That’d be like the US winning a war in the Middle East.
Not done. The Panthers fired their OC midseason and nothing improved. They brought out the dawg in Mac Jones, of all people. The only solace Panthers fans got all year long was when the team plucked Cam Newton out of the unemployment line and watched him beat the Cardinals in Arizona. Throughout the Panthers’ lifespan, Cam Newton has been the only reason they’ve ever been cool. He alone is responsible for 90 percent of the good things that this franchise has done. I can’t tell you how pleasant it was to see Cam back with Carolina, doing Cam shit. That pleasantness lasted exactly one game.
PJ Walker ensued.
Your coach: This chump.
I look at Matt Rhule and I see every other dad I get stuck talking to at a youth soccer game. This is the last year you’ll see Rhule coaching this team, or any NFL team for that matter. And that’s a shame, because the Panthers are SO close. You just can’t see it.
“I believe it’s 1000% working, I just know no one can see it and I apologize. As I tell our team all the time, it took Jay-Z seven years. He had to start his own agency to become famous, to become an overnight sensation. It takes time.”
There’s a lot to unpack in those four sentences. The good news is that I have no interest in making any effort to do so. The Panthers could replace Rhule with Art Briles, right now, and not only be better off football-wise, but also in terms of reputation. Owner David Tepper opened the vault for Rhule two years ago as his first big statement hire, and nothing about that statement has proven inspiring. Rhule is a pigheaded shit-for-brains and his tenure has been a mess. The TEXANS have more direction as presently constituted. But hey now, look at the new offensive coordinator!
I feel like I’m watching a talk show with the worst possible guest list. That’s former Giants ringleader Ben McAdoo, and you have to salute McAdoo for putting down the Dep pump and opting for a more relaxed hairstyle. So much more free and open. Hey Ben, who’ll be the starting quarterback? Who knows! Somebody’ll be back there, man. We’ll be all good. Just gonna take life as it comes, baby.
Your quarterback: SOMEBODY! Possibly Sam Darnold, but also possibly Matt Corral, or also possibly this guy!
That’s former Browns malcontent Baker Mayfield, who was so widely beloved in the Browns locker room that the team traded all of its draft picks for the rest of eternity in order to get a serial massage groper to replace him. Mayfield and the Panthers were last resorts for one another after Deshaun Watson spurned the Panthers over money, and after they pretended not to be interested in dealing for Kirk Cousins even though they were, and after Mayfield himself seemed disinclined to ever play for them.
I didn’t think Baker was that bad of a QB, really. I said as much earlier this year, in a post I appear to have written after relapsing back into alcoholism. In my defense, Baker only ranked as the ninth worst QB in the NFL a year ago. That’s better than Sam Darnold! And hey, he hates Critical Race Theory, which means he could be elected governor of his new home state TOMORROW if he so chose. So he’s got that going for him. I bet his teammates are so excited to get to work with him!
It just goes to show: you can never have too many quarterbacks on a roster. Watch the Panthers bring back Cam AGAIN three weeks into this shit show. Because really, what would it matter? Start fucking Tom Holland back there. You’re gonna get the same result anyway.
What’s new that sucks: Was Baker not enough? No? OK well here’s Rams punting legend Johnny Hekker, who’ll be plying his trade much more often here than he did back in LA. Austin Corbett and Bradley Bozeman have also arrived to bolster an O-line that has nothing to protect and is still projected to be one of the worst in football anyway. That promising defense is now worse after losing Gilmore, LB Haason Reddick, and tackle DaQuan Jones in free agency. And the Panthers STILL pay too much money to running backs. You thought that, just because Marty Hurney was gone, their days of paying guys like Mike Tolbert out the ass were over. WRONG. McCaffrey’s deal is still horrific. As is his recent injury history. As is his family. Only D’Onta Foreman is here to back him up. Just take this offense out behind the shed and put a bullet in it already.
Oh hey, speaking of killing things …
That was Tepper putting the kibosh on a new practice facility in Rock Hill, South Carolina because the city won’t pay the $225 million that he claims they owe him. The real estate company Tepper created to build that facility declared bankruptcy, and two of Tepper’s top sports deputies also resigned this year without much in the way of explanation. It’s up to you and me to fill in those gaps, which I’ll do here with great joy and verve. Tepper sucks to work for, and no municipal government in either Carolina wants a fucking thing to do with him or his sports teams anymore. Would you? The Panthers are 29 years old. They’ve never won a Super Bowl. They’ve never had a good head coach. They’ve had exactly one great quarterback. Their color scheme is the one thing from the 90s that has NOT come back. Their stadium blows. And their current roster is a disaster. Why, it’s almost like replacing one asshole billionaire owner with another doesn’t change anything at all! Stunning, really.
What has always sucked: Say what you will about the Jaguars, but at least when they lose, they do so in spectacular fashion. The Panthers, by contrast, engage in the kind of workmanlike mediocrity that only the Sacramento Kings aspire to. Tepper can clink a pair of brass balls together on his desk, and move Jerry Richardson statues to the parking lot behind a nearby Lowe’s, and hire Brian Kelly, and do all kinds of other fancy shit that serves as a blinking NEW SHERIFF sign hanging from a shingle outside the stadium. None of it has mattered and none of it ever will. This team’s name is mud. I wouldn’t watch them play even if I had fantasy money on the line. And the Carolinas are just Georgia with a slightly better reputation. Wander into any Carolina forest and you’ll find a used Klan hood to sell on Poshmark. All of you humanoids deserve one another. Fuck off.
Ratto says: David Tepper is notorious for spending more for his franchise than any other owner, but in claiming bankruptcy over the team’s practice facility he also provided us with a more familiar brand of owner wisdom, namely: Billionaires don’t get to be billionaires by paying for things.
What might not suck: OK, the new helmets kick ass. I don’t know why the NFL waited a zillion years to change the helmet shell policy. I don’t know why that policy even existed to begin with. All I know is that these helmets are too good for the Panthers. I say we let the Seahawks wear them instead.
HEAR IT FROM PANTHERS FANS!
Our fans come to games mostly to eat Bojangle’s and skip church.
Honestly I wish they just traded for DeShaun Watson so I could stop giving a shit.
It doesn’t take David Sedaris to point out that the teal blue, silver and black color scheme is the worst in the NFL and for life in general.
It’s like we’re playing Mad Libs with whogivesafuck QBs.
We were once called The Worst Team To Ever Have An 11-0 Start. At the time, it was a hilarious take. Long term? I may as well get it tattooed on my lower back.
This franchise has recorded seven winning seasons in 27 tries.
What do people remember about our Super Bowl appearance? 1. Janet Jackson’s boob. 2. A botched kick.
David Tepper is just another rich jackass from up north who has moved down here to tell us how everything we are doing is wrong. And just like every other dipshit carpetbagger, he has fucked everything up. When he took over the team, he told us all how awful everything was and how poorly the team was run. Well since then, we haven’t won more than seven games after making the playoffs four out of five years before that. Fuck David Tepper I can’t believe he made me miss our old handsy racist owner. And fuck Matt Rhule too. I can’t believe the guy bet his career on Sam fucking Darnold.
Us people from Charlotte look to forward to the Panthers’ WYTS to see you torch the city, but we’re always disappointed because there’s nothing to torch. It’s not a city; it’s a giant, bland suburb. Charlotte is the guy in a barroom brawl that no one bothers to punch. If Charlotte was a flavor of ice cream it wouldn’t matter because it’s frozen yogurt. If you looked up “nonentity” in the dictionary, there’s no picture. Charlotte is a replacement-level punter.
-Three draft picks for Drew’s doppelganger, but with less talent.
-One more draft pick for a one year rental of someone who’s better at portraying a homeless guy living in a stadium instead of winning playoff games, and who will get either hurt or cut by the end of 2022.
-For the umpteenth consecutive year, a wide receiver depth chart that doesn’t even qualify for “Let’s remember a guy” and no cap space
-Watching Christian McCaffery get CTE in real time
-Our confused doofus of a head coach who’s resume sports a college win percentage barely over .500, but who found a sucker owner to leverage that into a whopping $60 million over seven and a 10-23 record in the NFL to show for it.
And yet, I’ll watch. I deserve an intervention.
The Hornets fired their coach after going 43-39, which was a 10-win improvement over the previous season. Charlotte FC has only been a team for like two fucking months and already fired their coach. Explain to me why we’re in year three of Matt Rhule after two straight five-win seasons.
All of our fanbase hates Rhule’s fucking guts, no one can tell me any of the players like him either. Matt Rhule is nothing more than the 2020s version of Greg Schiano and my wildest dreams pray this ends in a fan revolt that makes Tennessee Volunteers fans look tame. This fucking idiot traded for Sam Darnold last year then extended him without playing a down. Darnold is one of the worst QBs in NFL history, so much so they traded for a 5’3” hothead the Browns didn’t think twice about choosing a serial sexual predator over.
The Carolinas are slowly starting to become worse too. Everyone from Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and whatever other Northeastern shithole you’d like to include have slowly realized NC is a great place to live with an extremely pleasant climate. This has led to NC quickly becoming expensive and overpopulated with Yankees, who have no problem driving up the cost of living and pricing everyone else out.
Case in point: rent in my hometown of Winston-Salem (not even a city to the level of Charlotte or Raleigh) is quickly becoming outrageous. Every other person who lives on my mom’s block is from Pittsburgh, and there is nothing worse than Yinzers invading your city and state. The less said about our evolution-denying sister state of South Carolina the better.
As always, fuck being a fan of this team. I wish Rae Carruth would’ve killed me instead so I never would’ve had to care about these assholes.
We had easily the worst owner in the NFL (non-Snyder Division) and somehow found a new one that’s even worse.
Tepper will threaten to leave, and either hold Charlotte over a barrel or bounce to South Carolina and throw dirt on our pathetic existence. I can see a near future where I am an NFL orphan and subsist on fantasy and gambling. And you know what? Fine. Put me out of my misery. One round to the back of my skull. Do it Tepper, you fucking coward!
The worst thing about being a Panthers fan is the feeling of irrelevance, even when we are relevant. The solid seasons that look like the turn of a corner and up crumbling like sandcastles as the next wave of NFL reality washes over the team.
McCaffery will make it to Week 5 this season. It’s a roll of the dice after that. We need to convert him into a slot receiver as soon as possible or he won’t functional legs within three years.
The best offseason move for the Panthers a year ago was the statue of Jerry Richardson being removed. Now we have to grapple with the irony of the new owner trying to go all in on a sexual predator.
When that failed, we decided that we are just going to trade for all the terrible quarterbacks from the 2018 Draft. Tune in next year when I complain about a trade to give Josh Rosen a chance.
We fired one of the hottest young offensive coaches for Ben McAdoo because the copying the Giants offense is a winning prospect.
Matt Rhule’s seat is so hot, there’s a 50% chance he is fired before this is published.
Despite winning three division titles, we still have never had back-to-back winning seasons.
Did you know we used to have a college style fight song? When I used to go to games, I had a friend who would stand up and sing that after every bad play, and our fan base is so apathetic, no one stopped him.
The other day an employee at the sportsbook saw my Panthers shirt and asked what I thought about Baker Mayfield. His reaction when I responded with a deep sigh suggested that “heavy sigh” is the consensus feeling of Panthers fans right now. What the sigh really means is that we are mentally preparing ourselves for a season that doesn’t get us to the playoffs but also somehow is good enough to mess up our draft placement AND let Rhule keep his job.
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