0-3 could be point of no return for Panthers

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

We already know the Carolina Panthers face a must-win game tonight against Dallas.

So what happens if they don’t win? Well, just about everything in Carolina probably will tumble.

The process may already have started when Mark and Jon Richardson resigned as team presidents just before the season opened. New team president Danny Morrison will get his first in-person look at the Panthers tonight.

Morrison’s going to play a big part in the future of this franchise, but I’d be more interested in hearing what’s going through the mind of owner Jerry Richardson if the Panthers lose to the Cowboys. It would be the first time the Panthers have started 0-3 since 1998. That’s the year the Panthers lost their first seven games and finished 4-12.

That season cost coach Dom Capers his job, just two seasons after he took the Panthers to the NFC Championship Game. Current coach John Fox has done a lot for this franchise and there’s still time to turn it around.

But Fox never has had back-to-back winning seasons and Richardson is painfully aware of that. A loss tonight greatly diminishes the chances of the Panthers making the playoffs or having a winning season. That would increase the chances of Fox losing his job.

Does it end there?

Probably not. Fox and general manager Marty Hurney have been a package deal throughout their time together in Carolina. If Fox goes, Hurney probably goes, too. But that’s not quite as automatic as many might think. Hurney has a strong relationship with Richardson. Hurney survived the George Seifert regime and could survive this.

Richardson basically let Hurney hire Fox. He might let Hurney make the next hire.