Panthers hire Frank Reich, becomes sixth head coach in franchise history
Reich spent the past five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, compiling a 40-33-1 record.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Carolina Panthers officially have their next head coach.
The team announced on Thursday that it has hired Frank Reich, who spent the past five seasons as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
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During his tenure with the Colts, Reich compiled a 40-33-1 record, leading them to the playoffs in 2018 and 2020.
Reich also won Super Bowl LII while serving as the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles.
He won the job over interim head coach Steve Wilks, who went 6-6 in 12 games this past season, and seven other candidates.
The hire makes Reich the sixth full-time head coach in franchise history, but he isn’t new to the Charlotte area, or to the Panthers.
Reich’s brother, Joe, has spent the past 21 years as the head coach at Wingate University, and when the Panthers franchise took its first snaps ever in 1995, it was Reich under center.
He started three games for Carolina that season, passing for 441 yards with two touchdowns, including the first in franchise history, and two interceptions.
Reich is respected throughout the league for being an offensive mastermind, which should serve a Panthers team that struggled to score points during much of the 2022 season.
It’s a departure from tradition, as Carolina has tended to hire defensive-minded coaches, dating back to the franchise’s inception, when it hired Dom Capers. In the time since, the likes of John Fox, Ron Rivera and others have continued to fit that mold.
Now that the job is his, the 61-year-old’s first order of business will be to find a solution at the quarterback position. Both Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker, each of whom started multiple games this past year, are free agents.
The 2023 NFL Draft is one way they could address it. Free agency and the trade market are other avenues they could take. The team has also expressed interest in resigning Darnold, per reports.
Reich is the Panthers’ third head coach since owner David Tepper purchased the franchise in 2018. During that span, Carolina is just 29-53, and has won no more than seven games in any one season.
According to multiple reports, Reich’s contract is for four years, which is considerably shorter than the seven-year deal that Tepper gave his predecessor, Matt Rhule in 2020.
Rhule was fired following a 1-4 start and an embarrassing beatdown in Week 5 of this past season. He won just 11 games in two-plus seasons in Carolina.
Wilks, who took over for the remainder of the season and nearly took the Panthers to the playoffs, and Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore were the other finalists for the job, per reports.
Wilks is expected to look for coaching opportunities elsewhere in 2023.
Related: Panthers GM: Coaching search won’t include ‘large group’
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