Panthers surprise with Frank Reich’s hiring but what will the new head coach face in Jacksonville?
With his return to the game following his dismissal by the Colts last year, Carolina’s new coach has an opportunity to find both redemption and glory for a young and hungry group of talented players.
By all accounts, the Carolina Panthers have found their new head coach. It goes without saying, however, that there are doubts about him given that it was he who the Indianapolis Colts fired last year after a disastrous start to their season.
Frank Reich set to become Panthers new head coach
According to a team announcement, Frank Reich will become the new head coach of the Carolina Panthers, which makes him the sixth in the franchise’s history. The news comes as somewhat of a surprise, after Reich was fired by the Colts a little more than two months ago, after he led the team to a 3-5-1 start to the season. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be fair to the coach to not mention the fact that prior to this most recent campaign, he actually enjoyed a decent run in Indianapolis. Indeed, the Colts went to the playoffs twice during his four-and-a-half-year tenure.
It is understood, that Reich was one of two finalists, with Panthers interim coach, Steve Wilks, being the other according to reports. Wilks for his part, took the post after the Panthers fired their own coach, Matt Rhule, back in October after he spearheaded his own abysmal start to the campaign - 1-4 to be precise. It’s worth noting, that Wilks actually took the Panther on a 6-6 run which ended in a post season appearance. Where Reich is concerned, reports indicate that he initially interviewed for the job earlier this month, before closing the deal with a second interview this past Wednesday. While we’ve no way of knowing what the former Colts coach said to Panthers owner, David Tepper, it’s clear that it worked. Less than a day later, he was offered the post.
What went wrong between Frank Reich and the Colts and what does he face now?
In principle, it was the quarterback. During his time in Indianapolis, Reich never managed to secure a franchise QB. That of course, was clearly evidenced by the fact that across the five seasons that he started, there was a different starting signal caller on the field for Week 1′s game each time. What’s ironic here, is that he’s going to find an almost identical situation awaiting him in Jacksonville. In 2022, the Panthers fielded three different starters in the all-important position - Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and P.J. Walker. With Mayfield now out the door, it’s just Darnold and Walker, but it’s highly likely - given their expiring contracts - that they will be following Mayfield soon enough.
It should be said, that the Panthers do have another quarterback in Matt Coral, a third-round pick in last year’s NFL Draft, but Reich is almost certain to prefer a more experienced player to lead the line. For the moment, all we can do is watch and wait, but you can’t deny that despite his recent failure in Indianapolis, Reich is a decent coach. His 40-33-1 overall record with the Colts is no slight thing and then, there’s the fact that he was offensive coordinator for the Eagles when they won the Super Bowl back in 2017. Ultimately, the Panthers have not had a winning record in five seasons now. Reich’s hiring seems to indicate they’d like to bring an end to that drought by bringing in an offensive minded coach, something they haven’t had in quite a while. Lastly, when you consider that during his playing career as a quarterback, Reich actually played for the Panthers when they became an expansion team in 1995. Indeed, it the team’s very first snap. With that in mind, perhaps this is about him going home and the team welcoming him back.
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