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Dave Canales on improving Panthers: 'It's about building a great team, and then Bryce (Young) can just do his part'

The Carolina Panthers know they need to improve the situation around Bryce Young, but coach Dave Canales wants to build a team around the quarterback, not for the quarterback.

"I think it's not about surrounding Bryce with great players; it's about building a great team, and then Bryce can just do his part of it," Canales said Thursday via the team's official website. "That's my goal. That's my heart for this whole thing. I want him to be able to feel like he can just come and just do his 1/11th. If he can just do his part, look at the great teams he was a part of in Alabama. He won a lot of games when they had a good offense and a good defense. He did his part, and he played big in big moments, and I would love to create that here so he can just do that part of it and not make it about him."

Young struggled mightily through his rookie campaign, at times seeming to regress even from where he was during his run at Alabama. The situation he was thrust into did him no favors. The offensive line was a collection of turnstiles, outside of Adam Thielen his receivers couldn't separate, and the running game provided almost zero buffer.

The focus this offseason has been upgrading that situation. The club made a big-time trade for receiver Diontae Johnson and spent money to upgrade the interior of the offensive line. Next week in the 2024 NFL Draft, those efforts should continue, particularly by snagging a young wideout.

But the Panthers are insistent the effort to find good players isn't just about Young.

"It's not about getting playmakers for Bryce, it's about getting playmakers for our team," general manager Dan Morgan said. "For our organization. Who's best going to fit our team? Who's going to make plays? Who's gonna take the ball away on the defensive side of the ball? Who's going to put the ball in the end zone on the offensive side of the ball?"

We're talking semantics at this point. Yes, Carolina simply needs to improve across the board after last season's disaster. That would be true regardless of who was under center. However, the amount of assets they sunk into acquiring Young causes the discussion to revolve around the quarterback.

While insisting the team isn't focused on only what's best for Young, Canales did note that eventually, the offense, particularly the passing attack, will become what's best for the quarterback.

"The pass game will be specific to Bryce, will become that, you know, it will become what he's confident with and what he can do," he noted. "But I just kind of want to try to build the team the right way."

On paper, Carolina has done that on offense, upgrading areas of weakness during free agency. On defense, the Panthers have lost key players but added veterans like edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney and cornerback Dane Jackson on shorter or more malleable deals than the defenders they parted with -- notably Brian Burns and Frankie Luvu.

The team building will continue next week during the draft. While they don't own a first-round pick, the Panthers hold seven picks, including two early in the second round (Nos. 33 and 39), which will be key to the rebuild.

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