The Carolina Panthers have found their new head coach. The team announced Thursday that Frank Reich had been hired as the sixth head coach in franchise history.
Reich’s hiring comes just over two months after he was fired by the Colts as head coach after a 3-5-1 start to the season. However, before being let go by Indy, Reich had great success with the Colts, leading them to the playoffs twice during his four and a half seasons with the team.
The former Colts coach was one of the two finalists with with interim Panthers coach Steve Wilks, according to CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones. Wilks took over in October after the Panthers fired Matt Rhule after a 1-4 start to the season. In 12 games with the Panthers, Wilks not only led them to a 6-6 record, he got them back in contention for the NFC South title.
As for Reich, he first interviewed for Carolina’s head coaching position in mid-January before returning for a second interview on Wednesday (January 25). He clearly won over owner David Tepper during the second interview, as less than 24 hours later he was offered the job.
Reich’s biggest problem during his time with the Colts was that he never found a franchise quarterback, and now he’s going to have the same problem looking him in the eye with the Panthers.
While at Indy, Reich coached the team through five regular season openers and he had five different starting quarterbacks in Week 1 (Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan).
In Carolina, the first thing he will want to understand is the quarterback situation. The Panthers have used three different starters in 2022 – Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and PJ Walker – but Mayfield has already left and it will come as no surprise that Darnold and Walker are both gone soon as they both have expiring contracts. (Walker spent some time on the Colts’ practice squad while Reich was the coach in 2018, so it’s possible the new coach could hold him back since he knows the quarterback.)
The Panthers have another QB option in Matt Corral, who was selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but Reich will likely be looking to bring in a veteran. The Panthers have a strong defensive core — with the likes of Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, Jaycee Horn and Jeremy Chinn — and if they can figure out their QB situation, they could quickly become a contender in the NFC South.
One thing is for sure, Reich will bring a history of success with him. Not only did he go 40-33-1 during his time with the Colts, but he was also the offensive coordinator for an Eagles team that won the Super Bowl in 2017. With the Panthers now having gone five straight seasons without a record wins is the kind of offensive pedigree the team could be using right now, and Tepper seems to realize that, as the 61-year-old is the first head coach in franchise history with an attacking past.
Reich also comes with a major connection with Carolina. The former NFL quarterback actually played for the Panthers during the team’s expansion season in 1995. Not only did he start three games for the Panthers, but he was actually under center to take the team’s first attacking snap 28 years ago.