The Cost of a Talented Roster: How Frank Reich Suffered at the Hands of the Panthers’ Lack of Talent

The Carolina Panthers are 1-10 for several reasons, including poor coaching. But Vince Lombardi couldn’t win with this team. The Panthers haven’t surrounded rookie quarterback Bryce Young with enough players to help him succeed. They have a weak offensive line and mediocre players at the skill positions. Firing Reich just 11 games into his first season was a desperate move for an owner known for being impatient. Since David Tepper bought the Panthers 5 1/2 years ago, he has gone through Ron Rivera, Matt Rhule and Reich. Add interim coaches Perry Fewell, Steve Wilks and now Chris Tabor. That gives Tepper more coaches than years in charge. Quarterbacks coach Josh McCown and running backs coach/assistant head coach Duce Staley also were fired Monday after Tabor took over. “My reputation away from this game is for extreme patience,” Tepper said Tuesday. “I would like to have someone here for 20-30 years.” The Panthers were coming off an 11-5 season under Rivera when Tepper bought the team in 2018. They’re 30-63 over the past five-plus seasons. “There’s a lot that goes into what the success on the field is, roster, scheme, how you practice,” Tepper said. “Obviously, we can be better in all phases because the product on the field isn’t good enough right now.” Carolina’s decision to trade two first-round picks, two second-round picks and star wide receiver D.J. Moore to Chicago for the No. 1 overall pick could haunt the franchise for years if Young doesn’t improve. He wasn’t making progress under Reich’s guidance so Tepper made a quick change. Reich had success with young QBs in the past, helping Carson Wentz develop into an MVP candidate during Philadelphia’s Super Bowl run in 2017. He helped get the best out of Nick Foles, who was the Super Bowl MVP that season. Only Tepper, general manager Scott Fitterer and Reich know if anyone wanted C.J. Stroud over Young. Reich insisted it was a collaborative process. “I believe it was unanimous from the coaches and the scouts and very strong opinions at the time,” Tepper said. “We preferred Bryce. He was our No. 1 pick. We had a lot of conviction. I could’ve vetoed that choice. I supported the coaches and the scouts and their unanimous opinion. … We are totally confident in that pick. I’m totally confident in agreeing with that pick.” It wouldn’t be the first time Reich didn’t get the QB he preferred if he wanted Stroud. Reich, who had a different starting quarterback for each of his five seasons in Indianapolis, previously told The Associated Press he wanted Wentz back for a second season with the Colts in 2022. Wentz threw for 3,563 yards, 27 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions in his only season in Indianapolis. But he struggled in the final two losses and the Colts finished 9-8 to miss the playoffs. So, he was traded to Washington and Matt Ryan was acquired. It didn’t work out and Reich was fired after starting 3-5-1. Reich will be fine. He had a contract guaranteed for four years. The Panthers are a mess and don’t seem like an attractive destination for an accomplished head coach. The Buffalo Bills entered the 2022 season as the favorites to win the Super Bowl and finished it with a home loss to Cincinnati in the divisional round. They got a pass because of the emotion surrounding Damar Hamlin. This was supposed to be the year they put everything together and finally made that elusive championship run. The Bills had the third-best Super Bowl odds coming into this season, but they’re 6-6 following their latest collapse in a 37-34 overtime loss at Philadelphia. Josh Allen continues to make costly turnovers despite playing at a high level. The team committed 11 penalties against the Eagles. There were dropped passes, missed communication and plenty of other mistakes to go around. Still, the Bills had a one-loss team on the ropes and couldn’t deliver the knockout blow. With tough games coming up against the Chiefs (8-3) and Cowboys (8-3), it’ll be a challenge for Buffalo to just finish with a winning record. The Eagles and San Francisco 49ers can’t face off in the Super Bowl, but Sunday’s NFC championship rematch looks like a battle between the NFL’s two best teams. The 49ers (8-3) have won three in a row, including dominant victories over Jacksonville and Seattle. They stumbled after a 5-0 start, losing three in a row with key players missing. But star wide receiver Deebo Samuel and standout left tackle Trent Williams returned to help Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey and a dynamic offense. The addition of defensive lineman Chase Young bolstered a strong defense that’s now lost two safeties in two weeks. George Odum tore his biceps against the Seahawks after the Niners lost All-Pro safety Talanoa Hufanga to a season-ending knee injury. The Eagles (10-1) are coming off their most impressive win, rallying against Buffalo on a short week after a Monday night comeback victory at Kansas City in a Super Bowl rematch. Jalen Hurts shook off a miserable first half with an MVP-caliber performance to lift Philly past Buffalo. The Eagles have built a two-game cushion for the NFC’s No. 1 seed so they have margin for error, but this could be a preview of the conference title game. AP NFL: