There’s almost nothing worse, professionally, than having a boss who micromanages. Anyone who’s experienced this — which is almost everyone — understands. Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper appears to be the ultimate micromanager. And, his decision to draft Bryce Young over C.J. Stroud and fire head coach Frank Reich is evidence.

Let me say this, first: I don’t think drafting Bryce Young was necessarily a bad decision. Many football people believe Young worthy of the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. I include myself in that group. This is not about Tepper’s ability to evaluate talent.

This is about the fact that he hired Frank Reich as the head coach and Scott Fitterer as the general manager. Once he made those decisions, he needs to let them do their jobs. It’s a poorly kept secret that Reich preferred C.J. Stroud over Bryce Young.

“There’s different philosophies in ownership,” Reich said in October. “Some owners kinda stay away and don’t engage a whole lot. Other owners do. And his philosophy is he’s gonna engage.”

That sure sounds like a guy who felt his boss was micromanaging him.

This is pure speculation, but it seems to me that Tepper likely felt that Reich wasn’t coaching Young to his full potential since he didn’t want him in the first place. Young’s struggles and Stroud’s brilliance only served to further the point that Frank Reich was correct.

Perhaps, Tepper felt like Reich did that on purpose. That’s absurd since Reich’s career in the NFL depends on being successful, regardless of personnel. But, it doesn’t seem out of character for Tepper to hold that belief.

Now, to defend Tepper for a moment, he owns the Carolina Panthers. It’s his prerogative to do whatever he wants with his team. He hired Reich to coach the team, but ultimately the boss man makes the calls.

Tepper wanted Bryce Young and once that decision was made, it was up to Reich to make it work. Through 11 games, he didn’t.


Frank Reich vs Texans

However, Reich was in a tough spot. Great leaders empower their employees. What does it say to Reich when Tepper hires him to coach football, he tells the owner exactly which football player the team needs to be successful, and the owner says, “Nope, you’re wrong, this is the guy.”

Tepper is clearly a great business man. He owns an NFL team and is a billionaire. But, that doesn’t make him qualified to evaluate NFL talent or construct a winning roster. That’s the point of hiring people to make those decisions.

Hire those people and let them do their jobs.

That’s not Tepper’s philosophy though. Just look at the list of head coaches he’s ousted in the past five years alone:

Including Rivera actually makes this look better. Since the start of 2022 — less than two years ago — Tepper has fired FOUR head coaches. That’s truly amazing.

This leads to two possible conclusions and neither is good for David Tepper. He’s either A: terrible at picking head coaches in the first place or B: making their jobs so difficult that they can’t have success.

Consistent success in the NFL starts with consistent leadership. The best organizations hire coaches and stick with them. Firing a head coach after 11 games is not a sign of a healthy organization.

The real loser in all of this is Bryce Young. Nearly everyone believes that he’s a bust — which is ridiculous after less than one season — and that C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson are better.

That might be true, but I would argue it’s still too early to make that determination.


David Tepper in 2023

However, Young is in a terrible spot. As an NFL media, we tend to lay everything at the feet of the player. We don’t often consider the situation.

If a player fails to live up to expectations, it’s his fault. But, that’s not always true. Frequently, in fact, the situation dictates the results.

Look at Brock Purdy. Every team passed on him — seven times — before the 49ers drafted him last overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. Was every team wrong? Or did he land in the perfect situation?

There are myriad examples of this throughout NFL history. And, there are examples of the opposite. The Houston Texans drafted David Carr #1 overall as an expansion franchise. Carr never stood a chance to succeed. Would he have been more successful somewhere else? We’ll never really know.

Young is playing behind a bad offensive line with no real weapons in the passing game and a coach who wanted a different quarterback. I’m not absolving Young’s poor play, but there are reasons why it’s not working so far and not all of them are on Young.

Now, he’s going to have a different head coach for the final six games of his rookie season and a new head coach next year. Plus, he has an owner that, I’m guessing, a lot of the best head coaching candidates probably don’t want to work for.

That’s tough for Bryce Young.

But, that’s the culture that David Tepper created in Carolina.

And, that’s why he’s among the worst owners in the NFL.

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