Panthers Hire Frank Reich As Head Coach

The Carolina Panthers will hire former Colts coach Frank Reich as their next head coach, the team announced on Thursday.

Reich was fired by the Colts in November despite owning a 40-33-1 record in five seasons with the team. The Panthers’ job was the first to open this cycle when they fired former coach Matt Rhule in October after starting 1-4 this season.

“To me, it is a home-run hire,” said Chargers QB Chase Daniel, an analyst for The 33rd Team. “(Owner) Dave Tepper and crew got this right. His (Reich) experience with quarterbacks. His (playing) experience in Carolina. It is just a home-run hire. His leadership is second to none, and he’s going to do the right thing. He has to find the right quarterback for the job. That was sort of his downfall in Indianapolis, but I think he’s going to get it right.”

In an interview with The 33rd Team in January, Reich spoke about the conditions in which he would return to coaching.

“But at the end of the day, it has to be the right fit,” Reich said. “It has to be the right fit with the owner. It has to be the right fit with the general manager. There has to be the right chemistry. I hope that opportunity comes, but I’ll stay ready regardless.”

Reich is the first head coach in Carolina’s franchise history with an offensive background. Dom Capers, George Seifert, John Fox and Ron Rivera had defensive backgrounds, while Rhule was considered to be more of a CEO-type coach.

Reich will have his work cut out for him trying to fix an offense that ranked 20th in points per game (20.4) in 2022. The Panthers also need a new franchise quarterback. Under Rhule, Carolina started Baker Mayfield, Phillip Walker, Sam Darnold, Cam Newton and Teddy Bridgewater. Only Darnold and Walker remain on the roster.

“This move is all about the quarterback. Currently, Carolina has the ninth pick in the draft and clearly they will be acquiring a quarterback, most likely in the draft,” said Mike Tannenbaum, analyst for The 33rd Team and former front office executive for the Jets and Dolphins. “Frank Reich has a long track record of developing quarterbacks and that will be job No. 1. It will be interesting to see who he pursues to be the defensive coordinator. He most recently hired Gus Bradley for that same role in Indianapolis.”

Reich reportedly beat out Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks and Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore for the job. Wilks impressed when he took over for Rhule, leading the Panthers to a 6-6 record.

Reich is the sixth coach in Panthers’ history, and he played for the Panthers during their inaugural season in 1995. Reich is even responsible for throwing the franchise’s first touchdown pass.

The Panthers will introduce Reich at a news conference Tuesday, the Charlotte Observer reported.


Patrick Mahomes: High Ankle Sprain Progressing, ‘Ready to Go’

Patrick Mahomes participated in the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice on Wednesday, and said the high ankle sprain he suffered in the Divisional Round against the Jaguars is “feeling good so far.”

“I’m doing good. AFC Championship week — ready to go,” Mahomes told reporters on Wednesday at the Chiefs’ Championship Sunday news conference.

“It’s doing good. A few days of treatment, a few days of rehab. Excited to be on the practice field and kind of test it out and see where I’m at. But, it’s feeling good so far.”

Early in Saturday’s game, Mahomes was injured when Jacksonville edge rusher Arden Key came down hard on Mahomes’ ankle. After a brief trip to the locker room, Mahomes returned and eventually led the Chiefs to a 27-20 victory, ensuring Kansas City a spot in the AFC Championship game for the fifth straight season.

After the game, he said he expected to play on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game against the Bengals. He said he began treatment on the injured ankle immediately after the Jaguars game.

“I was able to do some extra testing, just to make sure everything was good the night after the game. And then get a few things done to help the treatment kind of start off,” Mahomes said. “And then the next few days has kind of been an all-day thing where you’re either doing treatment, or rehab, or watching film.

“But it’s a full-day thing where you’re trying to make sure you’re obviously prepared for the Bengals and the great football team — mentally and physically.”

Mahomes was not in a walking boot, nor was he displaying a noticeable limp as he approached the podium at Wednesday’s Championship Sunday press conference.

“I’ll push a little bit today, and then the next day, and then the next day again, and see what I can do to not re-aggravate the injury, obviously, but to push it to see what I’ll be able to do on Sunday,” he said.

WATCH: Impact of Mahomes’ Injury

NFL Award Finalists: Burrow, Hurts, Mahomes Among MVP Candidates

NFL Award Finalists: Burrow, Hurts, Mahomes Among MVP Candidates
Finalists for eight of the NFL’s awards were announced on Wednesday, and three of the four starting quarterbacks on Championship Sunday are among the MVP candidates. Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts are finalists for MVP. They join Bills QB Josh Allen and Vikings WR Justin Jefferson as candidates for […]

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2023 NFL Coaching Updates: Latest News, Rumors and Buzz

Tracking the latest rumors and buzz surrounding potential head-coaching changes in the NFL.

>> Tracking Latest Coaching Interviews, Requests

>> Top 2023 Coaching Candidates

Friday, Feb. 3

Broncos Request Interview with Flores

The Denver Broncos requested an interview with Steelers linebackers coach and senior defensive assistant Brian Flores for their vacant defensive coordinator position, NFL Media reported. The Broncos, this week, finalized the hiring of head coach Sean Payton after a long courting process. As Payton looks to fill his staff, Flores has emerged as a candidate to run the defense in Denver.

Attempts to hire Flores are habitually complicated by his ongoing lawsuit against the NFL, alleging racial discrimination and biases in the NFL’s hiring practices.

49ers Set to Interview Wilks for DC Position

The San Francisco 49ers have scheduled an interview with former Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks for their vacant defensive coordinator position, NFL Media reported.

The 49ers lost their defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans when he took the Houston Texans head coach job on Tuesday.

Ravens Second Slate of OC Interviews Underway

The Ravens’ second round of interviews with offensive coordinator candidates is underway on Friday. Baltimore will interview Seahawks quarterbacks coach David Canales (per NFL Media) as well as Georgia offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Todd Monken (per NFL Media), both for a second time.

The Ravens are in search of a new coordinator following their dismissal of highly regarded play-caller Greg Roman after four seasons in charge of Baltimore’s offense. Ravens coach John Harbaugh noted heading into the team’s search that quarterback Lamar Jackson would be involved in the hiring process as the team continues to woo him back to Baltimore during contract negotiations.

Scott Turner Joins McDaniels’ Staff in Las Vegas

Former Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Scott Turner will join the Las Vegas Raiders in an elevated passing game role, NFL Media reported.

Turner spent his previous three seasons with the Commanders as their offensive coordinator before being fired at the end of the season. He previously had been on coaching staffs in both Minnesota and Cleveland.

Broncos Request Interview with Desai

The Denver Broncos requested an interview with Seahawks associate head coach and defensive assistant Sean Desai for their vacant defensive coordinator position, NFL Media reported.

Desai joins Steelers linebackers coach and senior defensive assistant Brian Flores who the Broncos also hope to interview to potentially join Sean Payton’s staff.

Thursday, Feb. 2

Fangio Chooses Dolphins

After speaking with multiple teams about their defensive coordinator position, former Broncos head coach Vic Fangio will join the Dolphins as their defensive coordinator and officially will accept the position on the Miami staff after the Super Bowl, ESPN reported.

Fangio and the Dolphins reportedly agreed to terms on a three-year deal that has a team option for a fourth season, making him the highest-paid coordinator in the on Sunday. However, numerous reports surfaced that nothing between the two sides had been finalized, and Fangio was exploring other options with teams like the 49ers and Broncos.

Ultimately, Fangio is expected to end up in Miami.

Colts Continue Thorough Process

The Colts are nearly done with their second round of head coaching interviews and are considering a rare third round as well, NFL Media reports. If they go that route, they would pare down the list to a select few finalists before making their decision.

Candidates for the Colts’ job include New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, Colts interim coach Jeff Saturday, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen.

Saints Part Ways With Richard, Interviewing Woods

The Saints are interviewing Joe Woods for their defensive coordinator position after parting ways with co-defensive coordinator Kris Richard, NFL Media reported.

Woods was on Dennis Allen’s staff with the Raiders in 2014 and spent the past couple of seasons coaching the Browns’ defense before he was fired in January.

Richard spent two seasons with the Saints but is most known for his time with the Seahawks from 2010 to 2017 when he helped coach the “Legion of Boom.”

Bills Hire Danna as assistant

The Buffalo Bills have hired Joe Danna as their new safeties coach, the team announced. Danna served as the Houston Texans safeties coach during the 2022 season

Lions Add Pair of Assistants

Dre Bly and Steve Heiden will join the Lions’ coaching staff, the team announced. Bly will coach the cornerbacks, a role he spent the past four years handling at the University of North Carolina. Bly played four seasons with the Lions and made two Pro Bowls with the team.

Heiden will coach the tight ends after spending the past 10 years with the Cardinals in various roles, most recently coaching the tight ends for four years.


Jerry Jones: McCarthy’s Job Not in Doubt After Disappointing Loss to 49ers

Following the Dallas Cowboys’ disappointing 19-12 loss in the Divisional Round to the 49ers, owner Jerry Jones showed his support for coach Mike McCarthy returning next season.

“No. No. No. Not at all,” Jones said when asked if Sunday night’s result would change McCarthy’s job status. “[The coaching staff’s] decision to (play) the kicker was exonerated with his field goal, in my mind. I’m proud for him, but this is very sickening to not win tonight.”

McCarthy is drawing criticism for the Cowboys’ final play of the game, which featured running back Ezekiel Elliott lining up at center and ended with wide receiver KaVontae Turpin getting tackled before he could pitch the ball to a teammate or turn upfield to pick up any yards after the catch.

McCarthy tried to explain away the Cowboys’ perplexing final play after the game but didn’t offer many details.

“It didn’t really get going,” McCarthy said. “I don’t really want to get into the details of it, but that obviously wasn’t the plan. It’s obviously a gadget play or whatever. It’s a last-play situation call that we practice.”

To McCarthy’s credit, he’s finished 12-5 in back-to-back seasons, and this year’s wild-card victory against the Buccaneers was Dallas’ first playoff win since 2018. However, the Cowboys always have sky-high expectations, and their loss to the 49ers makes it 27 straight years since they’ve made it past the divisional round.

McCarthy’s decision-making wasn’t the only reason Dallas lost on Sunday. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott finished with just 206 yards passing, one touchdown and two interceptions, as Dallas’ offense failed to get in the end zone after the first quarter.

“Yeah, just disappointed. Guys that played their asses off,” Prescott said after the game. “The defense, which gave us an opportunity to win this game, which played hard against a really, really good offense, a really good team, and for us to only put up the points that we did, that’s unacceptable, and it starts with me. I’ve got to be better. No way to sugarcoat it.”

Ronde Barber, an analyst for The 33rd Team and former NFL defensive back, isn’t focused on McCarthy’s future with the Cowboys, but instead wonders about Prescott’s future in Dallas.

“We keep hearing about Cincinnati and Joe Burrow saying his winning window is whenever he’s playing,” Barber said. “I don’t think I feel that way about Dallas and Dak Prescott.”

Although there don’t appear to be any immediate changes coming at coach or quarterback, it looks like it will be another Cowboys’ offseason filled with speculation as the team failed to meet expectations yet again.


Cowboys RB Tony Pollard Breaks Leg in Divisional Playoff Loss to 49ers

Running back Tony Pollard fractured his left fibula in the first half of the Dallas Cowboys’ season-ending loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, ESPN reported.

Surgery will be required to repair the break. The normal recovery timeline is 3-4 months.

Pollard left after catching an 8-yard pass from Dak Prescott with less than two minutes remaining before halftime. The injury occurred when 49ers safety Jimmie Ward rolled onto Pollard’s ankle while making the tackle.

The Cowboys’ offense seemed to have the life sucked out of it after losing its Pro Bowl running back.

“As soon as Tony Pollard went out, you kind of felt a little bit of energy leave their offense,” said former NFL cornerback Ronde Barber and analyst for The 33rd Team. “Not that Dak and his receiving corps … can’t get the job done, but I felt this entire year that when Tony Pollard was really good, the entire Dallas offense was always in stride. It was definitely not like that after he got hurt at the end of the first half. Zeke Elliott was largely ineffective … and was really kind of an afterthought.”

Pollard, who had his most successful season as a pro, will be a free agent in March.


NFL Championship Weekend Schedule Set: Bengals-Chiefs Rematch, 49ers Head to Philly

The NFL’s Championship Weekend schedule is set.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles are the final four teams remaining in the 2023 NFL Playoffs. Two of them will meet on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Ariz., with a chance to be crowned Super Bowl LVII Champions.

The Chiefs will look for revenge as they host the Bengals in a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship game. Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City will be the home of the title game for the fifth consecutive year on Sunday as Patrick Mahomes attempts to overcome an ankle injury and secure his second Super Bowl victory.

In the NFC, two heavyweights will clash as the No. 1 seeded Eagles host the No. 2 49ers with a chance to compete for the Lombardi Trophy on the line. 49ers’ quarterback Brock Purdy could become the first rookie QB in NFL history to lead his team to the Super Bowl.

The schedule for Championship Sunday and Super Bowl LVII is below (all times EST):

Championship Sunday

Sunday, Jan. 29

NFC: No. 2 San Francisco 49ers (13-4) at No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles (14-3), 3 p.m., FOX

AFC: No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) at No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs (14-3), 6:30 p.m., CBS

Super Bowl LVII

Sunday, Feb. 12

NFC champion vs. AFC champion, 6:30 p.m., Glendale, Ariz., FOX

Damar Hamlin Visits with Bills Teammates at Stadium Before Divisional Round Game

Damar Hamlin Visits with Bills Teammates at Stadium Before Divisional Round Game
Damar Hamlin visited with his Bills teammates before kickoff and again at halftime of Buffalo’s Divisional Round playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Hamlin joined his Bills teammates in the locker room before heading up to a suite to watch the game with his family, ESPN reported. Reporter Tracy Wolfson of NFL on […]

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