Tem Lukabu joins Ejiro Evero in receiving outside attention for a promotion in the wake of a dismal Panthers season. The one-year Carolina assistant is on the radar for a defensive coordinator job.
As Jerod Mayo goes to work assembling his first coaching staff as Patriots HC, Lukabu is on his radar. The Patriots are preparing to interview the Panthers’ outside linebackers coach for their DC gig, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.
Lukabu, 42, has been an NFL coach for four seasons while also accumulating more than 10 years of experience at the college level. While Lukabu has logged time on the 49ers and Bengals’ staffs as well, he has not spent consecutive years with one NFL team since serving as a San Francisco quality control coach from 2016-17. Prior to this season, Lukabu spent three years as Boston College’s DC. This is believed to be Lukabu’s first request to interview for an NFL DC post.
Carolina’s defense did not come under fire like the team’s offense, the catalyst for the team’s descent to the NFL’s basement. But it did not exactly stand out, either. The Panthers ranked 29th in points allowed, and while they were fourth in total defense — a number likely spurring the Evero interest and this Lukabu meeting — DVOA slotted Carolina’s defense 25th. Top Panthers edge rusher Brian Burns also failed to match his numbers from last season, finishing with eight sacks and 18 QB hits (down from 12.5 and 22 in 2022).
The Falcons requested an Evero HC interview, joining the Panthers in that regard, while Carolina blocked Jacksonville from meeting with its one-year DC. The Panthers cannot block Lukabu from this meeting, as it is for a promotion.
The Patriots have not used a traditional defensive coordinator title since Matt Patricia left for the Lions’ HC job following the 2017 season. Brian Flores and Mayo, however, have parlayed the role of Bill Belichick‘s right-hand man on defense into HC gigs. Mayo could become the Pats’ play-caller on that side of the ball, but he appears to be planning to employ a traditional DC in his first year.
Lukabu worked as the Bengals’ linebackers coach in Zac Taylor‘s first year, 2019, and has coached linebackers at Rutgers and Mississippi State, along with defensive linemen at Florida International. Mayo would satisfy the Rooney Rule coordinator guidelines by interviewing Lukabu, who is Black, but it should probably be expected the new New England HC meets with others for the post as well.