The Panthers hire Frank Reich
Carolina’s search for a new head coach ends with the team announcing the hiring of Frank Reich.
The Carolina Panthers were looking for a new leader and found one Thursday in Frank Reich.
The former Indianapolis Colts head coach returns to town with a stellar resume, which includes being the first starting quarterback in Panthers history. He also won a Super Bowl as offensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles and went 40-33-1 during his five-year tenure as Colts head coach.
And while the aforementioned accolades sound impressive on paper, Reich’s ability to lead a young Panthers locker room and develop a potential franchise quarterback will be key to his success in Carolina.
Reich gets a second chance to lead a franchise after his disappointing fall at Indianapolis last season. And one of his former players – who worked with him in Philadelphia and Indianapolis – thinks he will take advantage of the opportunity in Carolina.
«First and foremost, they’re going to have a young quarterback, and Frank has a really good track record with developing young quarterbacks,» former NFL tight end Trey Burton told The Observer on Thursday. “His system is not super complicated. It’s not something that’s going to take three, four or five years to bring down the quarterback. It’ll be cool for him to pick his guy — whether it’s the draft or free agency.
«And he’s a guy who’s a little different from the last two head coaches the Panthers have had. He’s a guy with a proven NFL resume and someone who’s been successful and had some really competitive teams over the last two years.
Burton played in the NFL for seven seasons. During three of those campaigns, Reich served as Burton’s offensive coordinator or head coach. After the 2017 season, they lifted a Lombardi Trophy in the same locker room as the Eagles, as Reich led backup Nick Foles on a miraculous run through Super Bowl LII before heading to the Colts.
After their success together in Philadelphia, Burton was looking forward to joining Reich with the Colts in 2020. The versatile point guard wanted to take advantage of Reich’s playmaking creativity, an attribute he’s sure to use with his new Panthers offense.
«He’s really dangerous because he likes stuff, he likes different looks,» Burton said. “He likes to keep the same formation but run and know a lot of different things well. He is by no means bland, he is very creative.
In their reunion season, Reich led Burton and the Colts to an 11-5 record. While the team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, Burton looks back on that season with fond memories due to the way Reich led the team.
“His analogy was, ‘We’re not going to ride the ocean wave. We’re going to create our own wave of positive momentum and positive thinking,” Burton said. «So no matter what happened, the previous game or the previous game or whatever the scenario, we’re going to move on and create our own wave.»
Burton describes Reich as an approachable mentor who can talk to players about anything. Reich’s balanced nature makes him easy to understand. And according to Burton, although he is a serious leader, he doesn’t mind having fun or joking around with the players.
«He’s the kind of guy you want to play well for because of his quality,» Burton said. «It’s like having a best friend – you want your best friend to do really well. You don’t want your best friend to be mad at you. You want to be there for them every chance you get and stand up for him because he treats you right. You never worry about Frank losing his mind on someone or (swearing on someone). He’s just very cool in a good way.
And while Reich’s behavior will never be mistaken for dominance, Burton believes he delegates responsibility to his staff members and that the head coach and locker room dynamics benefit from his consistent approach.
«There’s a small percentage of guys who need people to yell at them and yell at them,» Burton said. “There are always guys on staff for that, but the majority of the NFL community are grown men who want to be spoken to like grown men. And they want to have conversations like grown men instead of being yelled at like you’re in middle school or high school.
Reich once played in an NFL locker room. His experiences, which took place before the majority of his players were born, can help him understand the trials and tribulations the dressing room goes through during the season.
After spending 14 years under an NFL helmet, he has a perspective that few other head coaches have been able to grasp. That prospect should help him as he prepares to conquer a dressing room that has perfectly embraced interim head coach Steve Wilks’ coaching style.
«It definitely plays a big part because he’s been in the game and he’s done it before,» Burton said. «He knows what most of us are going through.»
This story was originally published January 26, 2023 3:36 p.m.