Written by Steve Reed, a sports writer for the Associated Press (AP).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper on Tuesday defended his perceived lack of patience after firing head coach Frank Reich 11 games into his first season, and the team’s decision to draft Bryce Young No. 1 overall.
Reich is now the third coach to be terminated mid-season by Tepper, who acquired the team in 2018 for a record-breaking $2.275 billion.
In the past, Tepper dismissed Ron Rivera when the team had a record of 5-7 in 2019 and Matt Rhule after a 1-4 start last season. Tepper did not provide a clear reason for the decision to end Reich’s contract, stating that reporters can come to their own conclusions.
“I possess patience. My reputation outside of this game is known for my great level of patience,” stated Tepper, a wealthy hedge fund manager. “There’s no reason why that shouldn’t carry over to this game as well. However, this patience comes with a desire for good performance and seeing progress in various areas.”
“I desire to have a coach here for a period of 20 or 30 years. I hope to find someone who can deliver my eulogy in 30 years,” Tepper expressed.
However, Tepper’s time in Carolina has been overshadowed by defeats and dismissals.
Prior to his ownership, the Panthers had qualified for the postseason in four out of five seasons, with one of those seasons resulting in a trip to the Super Bowl in 2015.
Following that, the Panthers have consistently performed poorly.
Tepper’s record with the team is 30-63, making them the second worst team in the league after the New York Jets (28-65). The Panthers have not made it to the playoffs under Tepper and have had six consecutive losing seasons.
After the current season, when Tepper selects his next coach, it will mark the seventh head coach he has hired in his brief time as owner. This swift decision-making may hinder the Panthers’ ability to attract a top-notch candidate in the future, but Tepper has stated that he is not worried about that.
During his short press conference, Tepper primarily focused on justifying his actions as an NFL owner. He addressed eight questions in a span of 14 minutes before the team’s PR staff ended the conference abruptly. Tepper defended his choices, such as hiring Reich and selecting Young over rookie of the year contender C.J. Stroud.
“I do not weigh in on decisions regarding the head coach or Bryce until the end,” Tepper stated. “Those decisions are left to the football experts.”
Tepper stated that he ultimately backed the choices made regarding Reich and Young.
The Panthers have faced backlash for their decision to trade four draft picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore in order to move up eight spots in last year’s NFL draft and select Young over Stroud.
Stroud has a record of 6 wins and 5 losses as a starting player. He has passed for a total of 3,266 yards and has 19 touchdown passes and only 5 interceptions. Thanks to his contributions, the Houston Texans are in the running for a spot in the playoffs. On the other hand, Young has only won 1 game out of 10 as a starter and has thrown 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
Stroud’s QB rating is 100.8, while Young’s is 74.9.
Tepper stood by the decision to draft Young and initially stated that it was “almost” a unanimous choice among the team’s decision-makers, but later clarified that it was indeed unanimous.
According to Tepper, both myself and everyone in this building share the same belief that Bryce Young is a strong choice. I personally have complete confidence in agreeing with that decision.
Tepper did not discuss the fate of general manager Scott Fitterer before leaving the stage.
The AP NFL website can be found at: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl