The Carolina Panthers have hired Frank Reich as coach, the team announced Thursday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Reich replaces interim coach Steve Wilks, who was promoted after Carolina fired Matt Rhule after a 1-4 start to the season.
- Reich, 61, was 40-33-1 in more than four seasons with the Colts, reaching the playoffs twice and winning one playoff game.
- He was fired after going 3-5-1 to start the 2022 season and replaced by former Colts player Jeff on Saturday.
- The Panthers finished 7-10 in 2022, second place in the NFC South.
Why was Reich chosen?
Owner David Tepper seemed focused on hiring an offensive-minded coach for the first time in Panthers history. He was in love with Ben Johnson early on before the Lions offensive coordinator retired from consideration. Reich has the offensive resume that Tepper seeks, as well as the head coaching experience that most candidates lacked.
Reich impressed Tepper when they first met early in the search, then reappeared after Johnson pulled out and the Panthers’ interest in Sean Payton waned. It was Reich and Wilks, and Reich’s offensive track record tipped the scales in his favor. — The person
Wilks went 6-6 as interim coach. Carolina remained in playoff contention until their Week 17 loss to the Buccaneers.
In a statement after Reich’s hiring, attorneys for Wilks — who is a plaintiff in former Cardinals coach Brian Flores’ civil discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and multiple teams — said they oppose decision.
«We are shocked and disturbed that after the incredible job Coach Wilks has done as interim coach, including getting the team back into playoff contention and gaining the support of players and fans , that he was passed over for the head coaching job by David Tepper,» attorneys Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis said. «There is a legitimate race issue in the NFL, and we can tell you sure we will have more to say in the coming days.»
What will Reich do at QB?
Reich went through four quarterbacks in four seasons after Andrew Luck’s abrupt retirement, akin to the Panthers’ musical chairs in the post-Cam Newton position. The Panthers only have two quarterbacks under contract for this season – one of whom (Matt Corral) was injured all last season and another (Jacob Eason) was caught in one game.
By signing Reich, the Panthers retained the first-round pick they likely would have given away for Payton, and it’s possible CJ Stroud or Will Levis are still available at No. 9 in the draft. The Panthers could consider re-signing Sam Darnold as a QB bridge. Jacoby Brissett, who started for Reich for one season at Indy, will be a free agent. — The person
What is the ceiling of the Panthers with Reich?
Reich won a Super Bowl ring with Doug Pederson in Philadelphia, but won only one playoff game in four full seasons with the Colts – a wildcard victory in Houston in what turned out to be the forward -Luck’s last game. Reich made two playoff appearances with the Colts, whose 37 wins from 2018-2021 ranked 11th in the league during that span.
Tepper is hungry for a playoff berth: The Panthers haven’t been since he bought the team in 2018. With Reich inheriting a much-improved offensive line, DJ playmaker Moore and a solid defense, it’s no exaggeration to suggest the Panthers could win the NFC South next season – if they get the right quarterback. — The person
(Photo: Tim Warner/Getty)