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.