At 1-4, the Carolina Panthers still have a fighting chance to make the postseason, but if they don’t start winning games – and soon – that chance will go out the window.
Can the Panthers fix what ails them?
“We asked that same question today, and I don’t know if these things that I see consistently happening are caused by a lack of talent,” former Panther and current WFNZ host Frank Garcia said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Unfortunately right now, I see a lack of urgency and maybe a little bit of complacency set in. When you see the penalties and you have guys admitting that they’re not in shape and the little things that are taking place add up to big things, this can be replaced and fixed but that starts at the top and it trickles down all the way to the bottom. If you lose a guy like Josh (Norman), it seems like there’s a lot of guys out there that are playing above themselves and that’s what Ron Rivera pointed to. There’s going to be a come-to-Jesus moment or something that this team has to figure out. They’re just tired of being tired and getting beat up and they have to go out there and make plays. I don’t know how that changes. If you can bottle that and sell it, you’d make millions and millions of dollars because that’s one of the things that each coach each and every year is searching for for their football team.”
Still, it seems hard to fathom that a team that went 15-1 but lost in the Super Bowl would lack urgency. After all, if you came so close to winning it all one year, why wouldn’t you be extra motivated to actually win it all next year?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
“You work for a good company, I’m sure,” Garcia said. “But imagine if your company just cut one of your top executives and has all this money sitting in the bank and didn’t replace him. What is your value? You work your tail off, you get great ratings, but yet you’re not getting rewarded for some of those great ratings that you’re producing. I don’t know if that’s what’s taking place, but I think that’s a reason you might be able to point to – these guys maybe not feeling valued. There’s $19 million under the cap that this team still has at its disposal. You cut a guy like Josh Norman. You replace him with three rookies and you expect those guys to step up and be the leaders of this team and it’s just not going to happen for a rookie. Guys see that. Guys are smart. They know we just lost the Super Bowl. What have we done to get better? Kelvin Benjamin coming back, he was already on our team. Where do we go outside the box to go find a way to get better? You look at what the Minnesota Vikings did. They signed Jake Long this week. You look at what the New England Patriots did. They signed Chris Long. So teams that don’t get what they’re looking for to fill those voids in the draft, they go out to free agency. When you’re always shopping at the bottom of the barrel in free agency, if you continue to do that, that’s where you’re going to end up.”
The Panthers play at New Orleans (1-3) this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.