Panthers' Bryce Young not blaming Frank Reich for struggles

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Bryce Young said he accepts some of the responsibility for Monday's firing of head coach Frank Reich.

"We all do. We all share in that," the top pick of the 2023 draft said Wednesday. "We never want to see people get fired. We wanted to come in and conquer things together and accomplish our goals together. We all take responsibility in that."

Young also made it clear he doesn't believe Reich failed him in terms of his or the offense's development during an NFL-worst 1-10 start.

"We all take ownership, especially offensively," he said. "It's all of us. We all want to do better. It's a collective unit. There's no finger pointing from players, coaches. Nothing. We all could have been better."

But Young's lack of development since the Panthers traded two first-round picks and star wide receiver D.J. Moore to the Chicago Bears to move from ninth to first in the April draft is a big reason the offensive-minded Reich and quarterbacks coach Josh McCown were fired on Monday.

The offense ranks near the bottom in almost every statistical category heading into Sunday's game at Tampa Bay.

Young in particular has been historically bad. He ranks 30th in yards per attempt (5.4) this season, and his 4.2 yards per drop back is the second worst among 62 qualified rookies since 2000, behind only former Carolina quarterback Jimmy Clausen (4.1) in 2010.

He has been sacked 40 times, second only to Sam Howell (55) of the Washington Commanders this season and the fifth most by a rookie in his first 10 game since sacks were tracked in 1963.

Young's 8.7 yards per completion ranks last among rookie quarterbacks with at least 10 starts in a season since 1966. His 5.4 yards per attempt ranks eighth worst behind a group of forgettable names such as Blaine Gabbert and Joey Harrington.

His total QBR of 32.1 is the second worst among qualified quarterbacks this season. Only Zach Wilson of the New York Jets is worse at 30.9.

The good news for Young is that owner David Tepper gave him a vote of confidence, saying Tuesday he supported the decision to select Young first over C.J. Stroud, who is having an MVP-like year as the second overall pick by the Houston Texans.

"We are totally confident in that pick," Tepper said. "The people that made that pick first would be totally confident in that. Some of them you could ask. And for me, I'm totally confident in agreeing with that pick."

For Young, who went 23-4 as the starter at Alabama and never experienced a losing season at any level before now, Reich's firing was another reminder of how tough things can be in the NFL.

"It's really hard," he said. "These are real relationships ... people's lives. We spend, I don't know, almost every hour of the day in this building. Day after day after day is spent [here]. Obviously, you build strong bonds, strong relationships over that time.

"It's hard. It's a really harsh reality of the business."

But Young insisted he has seen growth and improvement in his game in going 1-9 as the starter even though statistics don't show it.

"The biggest thing is [getting] that growth and improvement translating onto the field as a unit, as a team," he said.

The Panthers rank 30th in total offense (265.9 yards per game), 30th in net passing yards (173.3 yards per game) and 29th in scoring (15.7 points per game). They haven't scored more than 10 points the past two games and haven't topped 15 in the past five.

Without going into detail, Young said he expects interim coach Chris Tabor and Jim Caldwell, named a special advisor to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, to do a few things differently than Reich to help stabilize the offense.

"Of course, there will be little tweaks with change in leadership, change in roles," he said. "Of course, things are going to look a little different. But I believe in everyone here. Time will tell as far as what the results are."