They’ve lost three consecutive games, all by double digits. A team that was supposed to have an outside shot at the playoffs in a weak NFC South, currently is the frontrunner for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Bryce Young sweepstakes may not be the international story of the NBA’s for Victor Wembanyama, but he appears to be as sure-fire a quarterback prospect as any in recent years.
A hard reset is necessary for the Panthers who haven’t been able to get their team on the right track since starting the 2018 season 6-2, before Cam Newton’s body finally broke down for good. They finished that year 7-9, and have won only five games for the last four consecutive seasons.
With a healthy Christian McCaffrey, the addition of Baker Mayfield, and a solid defense, this was the year for the turnaround. Instead, during Week 6 they hit a new low. Mayfield was out with an ankle injury, and legendary backup P.J. Walker went down with a neck injury so the Panthers had to turn to Jacob Eason, a 2020 fourth-round pick of the Colts. Also, there was a sideline dust-up that was all over NFL Red Zone and social media. The most significant moment for the Panthers in 2022 for all of the wrong reasons.
Robbie Anderson got into a few confrontations with wide receivers coach Joe Dailey. They got into a heated screaming match once that got broken up, and that wasn’t the only time that the cameras caught Anderson getting in his face. Eventually, interim coach Steve Wilkes ejected Anderson prior to the start of the fourth quarter.
It hasn’t been 24 hours since Anderson was sent to the locker room and he’s already gone, traded. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Panthers are sending Anderson to the Arizona Cardinals. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the Panthers will receive in return a 2024 sixth-round pick and a 2025 seventh-rounder. Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported before the game that both sides were in agreement that two seasons and change had been enough, and it was time to part ways. Apparently, it wasn’t happening soon enough for Anderson’s liking. On Monday, he appears to be relieved to be getting out of North Carolina.
Anderson told the media after the game that the argument began because he was taken out on a third-down situation, and it escalated to him feeling disrespected. The situation ended with him angrily yelling back at the sideline from 50 yards away in a packed football stadium.
Cutting him seemed like the logical next step after this incident. The team just fired its coach, and they look bad enough while playing football. It doesn’t need to be compounded by a situation made for a cable-reality TV show audience. But the Panthers were able to get enough change back from the dollar they gave up for this deal to afford a small pack of gum afterward.
Getting anything in return for a player that was sent to the showers by an interim coach in his first game in the role is worthy of an ovation in the office for general manager Scott Fitterer. Not only did they get some draft picks, but the team got even worse and thus bettered their odds of landing that No. 1 overall pick. Now if they could just unload McCaffrey who Glazer reported was available as well.
If the Panthers are going to be awful for a fifth consecutive season, at least they’re doing it right this time.