The Lions will lose a key assistant to Frank Reich‘s new Panthers staff. Detroit running backs coach Duce Staley will rejoin Reich in Carolina, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets.
Reich and Staley worked together with the Eagles from 2016-17, and while Staley was under contract with the Lions, they chose not to block the maneuver. The Lions will let Staley out of his contract, Justin Rogers of the Detroit News reports, so he can move closer to his mother. Staley’s mother, whom Rogers adds is battling health issues, lives in South Carolina. Staley grew up in Columbia, S.C.
Staley, 47, had been on Dan Campbell‘s staff for the past two years, moving to Michigan after 10 seasons in Philly, his primary team during his playing career. The former Eagles running back worked as their running backs coach from 2013-20. Staley has interviewed for the Eagles and Giants’ OC positions during the late 2010s and took over as Philly’s HC temporarily in 2020, during a Doug Pederson COVID-19 spell, but it does not appear Staley is joining Reich’s staff in a coordinator role.
Staley’s role is uncertain, but he stands to be one of Reich’s top assistants. The Lions made a surprise playoff push during the season’s second half, and Jamaal Williams provided an equally stunning performance to help drive it. Williams finished with the league lead in rushing touchdowns (17) and smashed his previous career yardage high with 1,066.
The Panthers are moving forward on their OC search, requesting to interview Jaguars passing-game coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. As he was with Tampa Bay, Cooter is believed to be Carolina’s first interview request for this job.
Reich has not committed to calling plays just yet. Despite David Tepper coming out against CEO-type coaches, Reich noted a recent trend of HCs not calling plays in indicating (via ESPN.com’s David Newton) he has not made that decision. The Cowboys, Eagles and Giants represent recent examples of offense-oriented HCs ceding play-calling duties to lieutenants, though Mike McCarthy will go the other way — intending to call plays after dismissing Kellen Moore — in 2023. It will be interesting if Reich, the Colts’ play-caller throughout his tenure, follows suit. That will make the OC position a more prominent role in Carolina.
Cooter, 38, also has experience in Detroit; his Lions stay doubles as his most relevant NFL work. The Lions promoted their then-31-year-old staffer to OC during the 2015 season. Cooter stayed in that role through the 2018 slate, keeping the gig for a year despite the Lions firing Jim Caldwell. Cooter and Reich were each on the Colts’ staff from 2009-11, with Reich coaching Indy’s QBs and wideouts and Cooter starting out as an offensive assistant. Cooter’s past with Pederson, who hired Reich as Eagles OC in 2016, also could check a box here.
Given Trevor Lawrence‘s second-year production, teams have wanted to speak with Cooter. The Buccaneers have not made a decision about their OC yet, so Cooter is now in play for two positions. He has not been a coordinator since the Lions let him go four years ago.