The Panthers started the season 3-0 and finished 5-12, earning the No. 6 overall pick in the process.
The Panthers entered today’s game with the hope that they could end the season on a high note and avoid a seven-game losing streak after reaching .500 in Week 10 and following that feat with six straight losses to clinch last place in the NFC South with a 5-11 record, and they absolutely did not accomplish that goal as they were completely and utterly walloped by the Buccaneers in an embarrassing 41-17 loss that dropped the Panthers to 5-12 on the year. This team started 3-0, in case you forgot, but had one of the worst 14-game stretches imaginable after their hot start.
This game was no different, really. The Panthers started well, and even had a 7-0 lead at one point. But, as always, the second half happened, where teams make adjustments. Well, other teams, of course. Not the Panthers. They don’t know how to do that. As expected, the Bucs adjusted, the Panthers didn’t, and the Bucs completely whipped the Panthers in the second half. The Panthers ended the 2021 season with seven straight losses and looked like a complete dumpster fire while doing so.
It’s a lot like the 2020 season where they went 2-9 over the final 11 games of the season, and it’s almost like this is a trend with Matt Rhule’s regime. I don’t know if two years is enough to call it a trend or not, but I’m not confident things are going to get any better as long as Rhule is in charge. If reports are to be believed, we’ll find out next year if the team has grown since Rhule is expected to get at least one more year to turn this ship around. (I’m fully expecting him to be fired mid-season, though, because why get started on the rebuild now when we can delay it by months?)
I don’t know where we go from here, to be honest with you. The Panthers have the No. 6 overall pick in the 2022 draft, but we have a lot of needs (offensive line and quarterback, just to name two of the big ones) and we don’t have a lot of draft capital to work with thanks to the Sam Darnold trade. Matt Rhule talks a lot about trusting the process, but I’m not sure if there even is one, and if there is I’m not sure it’s working. I hope it is, and I hope that next year will be better for the Panthers than this year was, but I’m not holding my breath, and I don’t expect you to do that either.
At any rate, the 2021 season is finally over, and now we can turn our attention to the draft. Hopefully we’re able to make a few moves to recoup some of our lost draft capital, and hopefully we’re able to find a buyer for Darnold, because we’re definitely going to need to do that if we want any chance of competing next season.