The Carolina Panthers have fired Frank Reich after 11 games, owner David Tepper announced Monday morning. Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will serve as interim head coach.
Later in the day, the Panthers also fired quarterbacks coach Josh McCown and running backs coach Duce Staley, a league source said.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) November 27, 2023
Reich’s firing comes two weeks after he took over from offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, three games after delegating responsibility to Brown in Week 8. Carolina fell to 1-10 on Sunday in a 17-10 loss to Tennessee Titans.
Brown will resume calling offensive plays with senior assistant Jim Caldwell serving as a special advisor, Tepper said.
A stadium takeover, a 3 touchdown loss for the Panthers. Is history about to repeat itself?
At 11 games, Reich’s tenure is the second shortest in NFL history for a coach who coached a regular season game. The San Francisco 49ers fired Pete McCulley after a 1-8 start to the 1978 season.
(Two coaches didn’t make it to the regular season; Bill Belichick resigned as coach of the New York Jets after one day in 2000, while George Allen was fired by the Los Angeles Rams after two preseason games in 1977.)
The Panthers hired Reich in January and traded him for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft in March, selecting Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young. However, under Reich, Young posted a passer rating of 74.9, the worst of the three QBs selected in the first round. The Panthers also rank 30th in the NFL with 265.9 yards per game on offense.
Reich took over for interim coach Steve Wilks, who was promoted after Carolina fired Matt Rhule following a 1-4 start to the 2022 season. The Panthers have the NFL’s worst record after going 7-10 in 2022 .
Carolina traded its 2024 first-round pick to the Chicago Bears in the trade that landed Young.
Reich previously had a 40-33-1 record in four-plus seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, reaching the playoffs twice and winning one postseason game. He was fired after a 3-5-1 start to the 2022 season.
The Panthers are the second team to make a coaching change this season, joining the Raiders, who fired Josh McDaniels after eight games.
What was Reich’s downfall?
Tepper was sold on Reich’s offensive credentials and his ability to bring in a big-name staff that included former coaches (Caldwell, Dom Capers) and several up-and-comers. The idea was that Young would have a building full of QB whispers. Except it didn’t take.
The Panthers were at the bottom of the league offensively, Young struggled and the offense didn’t improve after Reich recovered the play called by Brown. Reich looked defeated after Sunday’s loss at Tennessee, where Tepper dropped an F-bomb and shook his head after walking out of the locker room. —Joe Person, Panthers staff writer
The Panthers’ anemic offense and 1-10 record led only to one election: fire Frank Reich
Who will Tepper target?
Monday’s announcement does not address the future of general manager Scott Fitterer, who is thought to be on shaky ground after failing to provide Young with enough playmakers. Tepper is expected to once again pursue an offensive-minded coach.
Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was his first choice last winter before Johnson withdrew from consideration. Tepper will almost certainly make another run at Johnson and don’t be surprised if he tries to make a splash with someone like Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh or Belichick.
But Tepper’s history of firing coaches and being active might give proven coaches pause. -Person
Why were McCown and Staley also released?
Before we delve into this, it’s important to note that Reich’s ability to assemble a supposedly all-star staff was a major reason why Tepper hired him. Now, 10 months later, everything is blown up. Tabor made the decision to drop McCown, who was in his first year as an NFL assistant, and Staley, who had worked with Reich in Philadelphia. With Caldwell taking a more active role, Tabor apparently wanted to streamline the process and have fewer voices in Young’s ear.
As for Staley, he was overseeing the NFL’s 29th-ranked rushing attack and contributed to the decision to sign former Eagles defensive end Miles Sanders, who was unproductive in his first season in Carolina. -Person
(Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)