JANUARY 9: Callahan will have a chance to meet with the Chargers as well. The Bolts requested an HC interview with the five-year Bengals OC, per Pelissero. Unlike the Panthers last year, the Chargers have not made their priorities clear in terms of coaching expertise. Callahan joins Ben Johnson, Todd Monken and OC Kellen Moore as offense-oriented coaches on the Bolts’ request list. Though, the team is interested in Jim Harbaugh. Moore interviewed for the job on Tuesday.
JANUARY 8: After firing Scott Fitterer earlier today, the Panthers have already started requesting general manager interviews. Apparently the organization isn’t wasting any time with their other major vacancy. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Panthers have requested an interview with Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan for their head coaching opening.
After being hired by the Bengals in 2019, Callahan’s offense would have a pair of underwhelming seasons before Joe Burrow took off in 2021. The Bengals offense ranked seventh in points in both 2021 and 2022, with the passing offense ranking top-10 in most categories between those two campaigns.
That performance earned him head coaching interviews in each of the past two offseasons. He was interviewed for the Broncos job in both 2022 and 2023, and he also earned interviews last offseason with the Cardinals and Colts. He got to the second round of interviews in Indy, an indication that he was on the brink of getting a HC gig.
The Bengals offense took a step back in 2023, although that was partly due to Burrow’s injury issues. That apparently hasn’t stopped the coordinator from generating head coaching interest, and he’s the first official candidate to replace Frank Reich (and interim fill-in Chris Tabor) in Carolina. While Callahan is the first definitive candidate, that hasn’t stopped pundits from speculating about other potential fits. We heard yesterday that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick could be an option in Carolina if he’s let go in New England.
One coordinator who won’t get a look in Carolina is Steve Wilks, who guided the Panthers to a 6-6 record while filling in for the fired Matt Rhule in 2022. Wilks was a main candidate to take on the full-time gig in Carolina, but owner David Tepper ultimately opted for Reich. Wilks went on to become defensive coordinator in San Francisco, and he helped guide the 49ers defense to a number of top-10 marks this season.
Despite his continued success, Wilks won’t be considered for the job in Carolina. Per ESPN’s David Newton, Tepper “won’t put aside his pride and admit he made a mistake” during last year’s coaching carousel.