Panthers owner says team will ‘self-reflect,’ but coaching moves are for a reason

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A day after the Carolina Panthers fired head coach Frank Reich, owner David Tepper spoke to the public for the first time.

The news conference was brief -- only 14 minutes long -- and was ended by the Panthers public relations team.

“Listen, obviously it’s been a difficult season,” Tepper began. “Yesterday, we made some tough decisions. I have great respect for Frank Reich. He’s a fine man.”

Reich was fired in the middle of his first season with the team. Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor was named the interim coach.

Reich was the team’s fifth coach in five years, and while Tepper said he wouldn’t talk about the specifics of what happened with any of the coaches, he said “there are different reasons why different things happened in each each case.”

The Panthers also announced that assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley and quarterbacks coach Josh McCown would also no longer be with the team.

PREVIOUS: Panthers fire Frank Reich

The Panthers have a 1-10 record this season -- the worst in the NFL.

“Obviously that record is not good enough,” Tepper said. “You know, there’s no hiding it. It is what it is, like everything in this sport. Everything’s left on the field... like I said, it’s not good enough. We’re going to self-reflect and make it better.”

Tepper said he understands the frustration that fans have with the team.

“I understand their frustration. I appreciate that. I can just say this: We will make it better. I’m not promising that’s going to happen tomorrow, but it may, OK,” he said. “Football is a really interesting thing what can happen in two or three year timespan... behind the scenes, there’s been a lot of different changes in the building and a lot of things that have come to become a lot better inside the building.”

“I understand [the fans’] frustration. We share their frustration every Sunday with them,” he added.

‘There’s a reason and there’s a purpose’

When asked about the stability of the Panthers organization and Charlotte FC, which Tepper also owns (and also fired its head coach), Tepper said it’s all for a reason.

“There’s a reason and there’s a purpose, and there’s a result, and the things goes on,” he said.

RELATED: Fans react to Panthers getting their 6th head coach in 5 years

Tepper touted the business success Bank of America Stadium has had with the arrival of both teams.

“You know, when we came here, there were 10 events a year in this stadium... I think we did 42 events last year,” he added.

Tepper preached patience in rebuilding the Panthers franchise when he hired his first head coach, Matt Rhule. When asked why Reich was fired after just 11 games, Tepper said he’s still patient.

“I do have patience. My reputation away from this game is one for extreme patience,” Tepper said.

But that patience must come with good performance. After treading water for two and a half years under Rhule, Tepper decided to act decisively and cut his losses quickly. That doesn’t mean the next candidate that comes in won’t have a longer rope.

“I would like to have someone for 20, 30 years,” he said Tuesday. “I’d like to have someone that would say my eulogy in 30 years -- maybe its 40 years, I hope.”

Controversy over CJ Stroud?

The team owner responded to a rumor that Reich and Tepper weren’t on the same page during this year’s draft, which suggests Reich wanted Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud and Tepper wanted Young.

“In the case of Bryce it was almost -- I believe it was unanimous -- decision on the coaches and the scouts. And very strong opinions at the time,” Tepper said.

ALSO READ: Charlotte FC ‘parts ways’ with head coach

“Even if it was Bryce and the votes came in unanimously in this particular case, I could’ve vetoed that choice,” Tepper added.

Tepper stressed that he still stands by the decision to pick quarterback Bryce Young in the draft this spring.

“I supported the coaches. I supported the scouts, their unanimous opinion, and I supported Frank Reich. So whatever is good bad or indifferent is ultimately because the buck stops here and I take full responsibility for everything,” he said.

Tepper said there was a point when Stroud was the choice -- it was only if the Panthers had the second pick.

“Originally, we were going to go with the number two pick and we thought we would get C.J. because we thought that Texas was going to pick Bryce. And listen, we preferred Bryce, he was our number 1 pick,” Tepper said. “We had a lot of conviction.”

That conviction hasn’t changed, Tepper said.

“I think everybody in this building would share this sentiment. We are totally confident in that pick,” he said.

As Tepper was leaving the podium, he was also asked if he’s made a decision on the future of general manager Scott Fitterer. He did not respond.

That question was one of many reporters tried to ask when the public relations staff escorted Tepper from the podium. Charlotte Observer columnist Scott Fowler was one of the reporters with his hand raised. He wrote a column on Monday titled “Panthers owner David Tepper fired another head coach. He should fire himself instead.

After Tuesday’s news conference, Fowler posted on social media, “I’m very unhappy w/ the Panthers for getting frozen out of asking a question at the David Tepper press conference. Sat in front row; raised hand high; wasn’t called on; protested to no avail. Felt like it was purposeful.”

Fowler followed his post up with an article on what he wanted to ask Tepper. You can read that full story here.

Interim head coach: ‘We’re moving forward’

Interim head coach Chris Tabor spoke after Tepper did, saying the team is seeing “tough times.”

“You have relationships with players, you have relationships with with other coaches, and a decision was made. And I understand that and because the NFL, it’s also a business, and so I’m well aware of that,” Tabor said. “And I’m very grateful and thankful for coach, right, keeping me around last year when he first got here. And at the same time, I’m thankful for Mr. Tepper having confidence in me to have this opportunity to lead the team these next six games, so we’re moving forward.”

Tabor said he trusts the process that led to Reich’s firing, a process which he says will help the Panthers win.

“I know it’s very cliche-ish, but there’s a process and today’s process, we got to win today to set us up for tomorrow,” he said. “And if we can do those things, I always say that sets you up for success and gives you an opportunity for success on Sunday. And that’s that’s what we’re trying to get done.”

(VIDEO: Carolina Panthers fire Frank Reich)