When a team begins a season with huge expectations, a talented roster and a sky's-the-limit mentality, they are expected to meet certain standards. Going 1-5 through the first seven weeks does not meet those standards.
That is where the Carolina Panthers find themselves.
Many felt they could be 4-2 at this point in the season, but two heartbreaking losses and an offense that has not lived up to its billing have the Panthers entrenched in the NFC basement.
As a result, Carolina General Manager Marty Hurney was fired today, which could be seen as a bit of a surprise. The Panthers aren't known for making such moves in the middle of the season, and it could be a sign of things to come.
Owner Jerry Richardson has a “win now” mentality, and this is first major move since the youth movement saw the release of Jake Delhomme and John Kasay, along with the dismissal of former coach John Fox.
It seems that in light of all of this, more changes could be on the horizon for both the Carolina staff and the team if things don't quickly turn around. It would not be far-fetched to suggest that the job security of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is in jeopardy.
He fielded one of the top offenses in the league last season.
Now, they are average at best.
A lot of the failures of the unit are due to Chudzinski's inability to adapt to different defensive schemes and his reliance on the read-option.
Then there is head coach Ron Rivera.
He has failed to make an indelible impression in year two, despite improving Carolina's 2010 record by four games. He has been inconsistent in his decision-making and needs to find a way to get the Panthers back on track in 2012.
One should not expect the return of Rivera, or most of his staff, in 2013 if this losing streak continues and Carolina cannot salvage their season. This roster is too good (despite recent defensive setbacks) to be sitting where they are in the division and conference.
The winds of change are once again swirling in Carolina and things may become more interesting between now and April.