Frank Okam

Panthers Reworking Staff

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule has had some difficulties making the same immediate impact in Carolina that gained him notoriety in Waco. In two years at the helm, Rhule hasn’t succeeded in improving his team’s win total from the season before he was hired. In an attempt to make some needed improvements, the Panthers announced that they were letting go of offensive line coach Pat Meyer, defensive line coach Frank Okam, and special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn.

The team struggled on both sides of the line this year and it looks like any attempts to improve will be made by new position coaches, while the special teams unit saw four different kickers and three punters throughout the year, including the preseason.

Meyer has been with Rhule since the move to Carolina. He’s been coaching in the NFL for 8 years with stops at the Chargers, Bills, and Bears. Meyer entered the NFL with Marc Trestman, moving with the coach from the CFL to Chicago.

Okam joined Rhule at Baylor and followed the notably loyal coach to the Panthers. Rhule had brought much of his staff from Temple with him to Baylor, so it was safe to assume some of the Baylor staff would end up in Carolina, as well. Despite coaching up young draft picks like Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Bravvion Roy and seeing career numbers from Brian Burns, Efe Obada, and Marquis Haynes, it seems Rhule is wanting a bit more from this position group.

Chase Blackburn was a longtime linebacker for the Giants before spending his final two years playing in Carolina. After about a year of retirement from playing, Blackburn became a special teams intern in Ron Rivera‘s staff. When Rhule came in to replace Rivera, Blackburn was one of two holdovers from the staff along with Jake Peetz, who is now the offensive coordinator at LSU.

It’s yet to be seen who will replace them, but Rhule continues to show hints of what made him successful at the college level by attempting to make the necessary changes to succeed. With young talent on both sides of the ball, Rhule may yet turn this team around.

Panthers Add Several To Coaching Staff

As could be expected given Matt Rhule‘s hiring, the 2020 Panthers will feature a heavy Baylor feel on their coaching staff. In addition to Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow, several more Baylor assistants will make the jump to the pros.

The Panthers announced additional hires to their staff Friday. Among them are assistant head coach Jeff Nixon, wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson, tight ends coach Brian Angelichio, assistant offensive line coach Marcus Satterfield, assistant D-line coach Frank Okam, cornerbacks coach Evan Cooper and assistant special teams coach Ed Foley.

Nixon and Jackson played key roles under Rhule at Baylor, but both are ex-NFL assistants. Nixon, who will coach Carolina’s running backs, led the Dolphins’ running backs for five years before working on Chip Kelly‘s 49ers staff in 2016. He was Rhule’s co-offensive coordinator at Baylor from 2017-19. Most of Jackson’s work has come at the college level, but he spent 2017 as the Titans’ wideouts coach.

Angelichio has more experience at the NFL level, coaching tight ends previously for the Redskins in 2019. Instead of working for former Panthers coach Ron Rivera, he will trek to Charlotte for a role with Rivera’s old team. Previously, Angelichio was tight ends coach with the Buccaneers, Browns and Packers since 2012.

Rhule’s former Temple OC, Satterfield was Baylor’s tight ends coach last season. He is an NFL first-timer. A former NFL lineman, Okam is as well. He spent the past two seasons as Baylor’s assistant D-line coach. Also set to become an NFL rookie staffer, Cooper will move from Baylor’s assistant cornerbacks coach to running that position in Carolina. On Rhule’s Temple and Baylor staffs, Foley headed up the Owls’ special teams and was their interim HC after Rhule took the Baylor job. He is also set for his first NFL coaching gig.

The Panthers also hired E.J. Barthel, Grant Udinksi and Cedric Whitaker as coaching assistants. Barthel and Whitaker will make major jumps to the NFL after respectively spending 2019 at Houston Baptist and William & Mary, respectively. Udinski will make the Baylor-to-Carolina transition.