CHARLOTTE – The 2019 season was full of ups and downs for the Carolina Panthers, who started 5-3 before finishing 5-11.
It was the year Cam Newton missed 14 games. It was the year Christian McCaffrey joined the 1,000-1,000 club. It was the year the Panthers parted ways with long-time head coach Ron Rivera.
That means it was also the year Perry Fewell got a shot to lead the Panthers as the team's interim head coach over the final four games.
By the time Fewell took over in Week 13, the Panthers were already all but eliminated from playoff contention, but he was determined to end the season on a positive note. Unfortunately for Fewell, that didn't happen, as the Panthers dropped all four games under Fewell.
After Sunday's 42-10 season-ending loss to the Saints, Fewell summed up his experience leading the Panthers with a single word: disappointment.
"Obviously, we didn't reach the goal that we had set for ourselves," Fewell said. "There are four quarters in a season. We didn't finish the second half of the season, the last eight games, very strong, which is disappointing for the players, for the coaches, for the fans, for the organization."
For Fewell, who was raised in Belmont, N.C., coaching his hometown team was a dream come true – even if it was only on a temporary basis and with less than ideal results.
"Growing up in this area, you never think you would get a chance to represent your pro team, and it was pretty special," Fewell said. "I would say that I am disappointed, because we couldn't produce W's, but that's pretty special."
As the Panthers continue their search for a new head coach, Fewell's name will be in the mix. While his four-game stint to close out the season may have served as a brief audition for the role, he'll get an official interview in the coming weeks.
Whether he's the one leading the team next year or it's someone else entirely, Fewell said he knows there are pieces to build around in Carolina.
"I think Mr. Tepper wants to do whatever it takes to win," Fewell said. "You have Christian McCaffrey and you have Luke Kuechly, and that's two good foundation pieces to build upon."
Fewell may not have gotten the results he'd hoped for when he was handed the reins of the Panthers, but it wasn't for a lack of effort.
"It's just disappointing, because there's been a lot of hard work, there's a lot of guys that care, there are a lot of fans that care," Fewell said. "The organization cares, and we just weren't as successful as we wanted to be."
View photos from Week 17 as Carolina hosts New Orleans.