CHARLOTTE – Panthers owner David Tepper on Tuesday night spent over a half hour chatting with a roundtable of print reporters at Bank of America Stadium. Much of the conversation touched on what Tepper told Panthers.com in a video posted earlier in the day. But here are some of the highlights that came from the roundtable discussion.
1) Tepper repeated confidence in head coach Ron Rivera and his staff and mentioned that the eight teams looking for new head coaches were entering a “lottery” of sorts in the hopes of finding a long-term solution.
“I think we have the right set of coaches. It seems to me we have pretty good personnel there and we should try to make a go at it again. … Ron is a very good defensive coach and he has his hands on the reins again. I think that’s the way it should be.”
2) When reviewing the 2018 season, Tepper made mention of the offensive line, a unit that was ravaged by injuries at the start.
“Listen, the offensive line looked like a disaster. You had to give (run game coordinator John) Matsko a lot of credit. It was as good as it possibly could be. It was a good coaching job.”
3) No amount of coaching can cure Father Time, and that’s something Tepper believes caught up to the Panthers. Carolina entered the season as the fourth-oldest team in the league.
“We might have gotten a little older than I thought we were at the beginning of the season. That’s football. That happens to a lot of different teams.”
4) Tepper reiterated his concern about quarterback Cam Newton’s sore throwing shoulder.
“We all want the same thing. Do everything possible to make it better by next year. Hopefully it gets better. Listen, there is no certainty in life. We all hope that.”
5) And the Panthers plan to have all their bases covered.
“Cam Newton is the guy we’re going to be depending on. He’s a talent. But it would be foolish of anybody to say that you’re not having an awareness of what could be and potential things that could happen through the year. … Hopefully Cam’s shoulder is fantastic and we’re all hunky-dory. If it’s not, you may need more cap space. You may need to go out and find somebody.”
6) As far as off the field changes, Tepper reiterated those will start with an indoor facility on the current practice field site.
“When you have to practice in a ballroom, that's just crazy to me. … There's no fan of Carolina that doesn't want that bubble. People told me that it doesn't rain here. That was not true. It rained so frickin' much here. We missed so many practices. So if you think about getting a bubble here last year – that was crazy. That hurt this team. We have two teams that we play every year that have indoor facilities and we should be preparing indoors on turf every year. Then when you have that crazy rain we've had, that hurts you, too. So from a football perspective, you really want to have that indoor option, and you'd like to get it as soon as possible.”
7) Tepper also confirmed this summer’s training camp would again be at Wofford. Plans for training camps beyond that remain unclear, but Tepper did make clear he wants to continue to have a connection in Spartanburg – while building stronger ones across both Carolinas.
“‘Two States, One Team’ does not mean we're in Charlotte all the time or just in Spartanburg. Maybe we should be in Spartanburg; maybe we should have a Fan Fest in Raleigh – something new, how ‘bout that? Maybe down in Columbia – that might be interesting, too. All those options we talk about will be on the table in the future.”
8) Tepper was also asked for an update on his interest in Major League Soccer, which he had publicly mentioned on two occasions.
“We are having ongoing discussions with Major League Soccer. We're talking about when they're going to take extra teams, and when the time comes we are very much studying that, very focused on it and I do personally believe that's something that belongs in Charlotte.”