Frank Reich

Latest On Panthers Plans For No. 1 Pick

The Panthers are likely keeping the No. 1 pick and they’re likely using that selection on a signal-caller. Beyond that, their plan is up in the air. Naturally, the organization is doing their due diligence on the draft’s top quarterback prospects.

The organization had dinner with Alabama QB Bryce Young earlier this week, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (via Twitter). Kentucky QB Will Levis also dined with a Panthers contingent that included owners David and Nicole Tepper, general manager Scott Fitterer, head coach Frank Reich, assistant GM Dan Morgan, VP Samir Suleiman, and coaches Jim Caldwell, Thomas Brown, and Josh McCown, per Albert Breer of (on Twitter). And, unsurprisingly, the Panthers will use one of their 30 prospect visits on Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter.

According to Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post, several team executives believe Tepper is leaning towards Young. However, if the decision was up to several coaches, Stroud would likely be the pick at No. 1. While the front office will surely factor in all of these opinions before the draft, they’ll also be leaning on Caldwell, the team’s new senior assistant. A source said the former coach and QB guru has “a huge voice in this process” and “might have even more say than the head coach.” Ultimately, one rival official believes the decision will ultimately be made by Tepper.

“The owner is going to win that one if he falls in love with one of these kids,” the source told La Canfora. “He’s seen enough misevaluations of the position already.”

After the Panthers sacrificed a pair of firsts, a pair of seconds, and wideout D.J. Moore for the first-overall pick, some pundits have wondered if Carolina could look to flip the pick again. “No one is buying” that the Panthers would consider trading the pick, according to La Canfora, with the reporter citing Tepper’s desire “to get to this point.” Indeed, Fitterer confirmed to Joseph Person of The Athletic that the organization hasn’t received any calls about the top selection (Twitter link).

Colts Announce Finalized 2023 Coaching Staff

New Colts head coach Shane Steichen has officially put the finishing touches on his first NFL coaching staff, according to writer JJ Stankevitz. We’ve covered a number of staff announcements like the hiring of offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and the retaining of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, but below are any moves from the announcement that we haven’t already reported on.

On the offensive side of the ball, we’ve covered most moves already. One piece of new information is that offensive quality control coach Brian Bratton has been retained in the same position for 2023. Bratton works primarily with wide receivers, assisting wide receivers coach Reggie Wayne, who was also retained. Joining them and the rest of the offensive staff will be former Notre Dame graduate assistant Chris Watt. Watt was previously the offensive line coach at Tulane in 2021 and will serve as assistant offensive line coach for the Colts under new offensive line coach Tony Sparano Jr.

We also received information that most of the defensive staff will be retained alongside Bradley. Linebackers coach and run game coordinator Richard Smith and defensive backs coach Ron Milus were both blocked by Indianapolis from interviewing for lateral moves and will stay in place in 2023. Their second-in-commands will both remain in place, as well, as assistant linebackers coach Cato June and assistant defensive backs coach Mike Mitchell were also retained. Similarly, defensive line coach Nate Ollie and assistant defensive line coach Matt Raich were kept on staff for next season. Lastly, Brent Jackson, who served last year as the team’s 2022 Tony Dungy Defensive Coaching Fellow, was promoted to defensive quality control assistant.

On special teams, it was confirmed that newly hired former Notre Dame special teams coordinator Brian Mason will serve as the Colts’ own special teams coordinator next year, despite this being his first NFL coaching position. Last year’s assistant special teams coach Joe Hastings will help Mason after being retained for 2023. Lastly, Indianapolis plans on hiring two Tony Dungy Diversity Fellows for next season, which it will announce at a later date.

And, with that, we have the first NFL coaching staff under Steichen. He retains much of what was put together in former head coach Frank Reich‘s last year but with a few of his own touches. Now Steichen can focus on roster-building as free agency and the draft loom on the horizon.

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

As the head coaching carousel spun for several weeks, many teams made coordinator changes as well. Teams seeking new head coaches are conducting OC and DC searches, and a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.

This is a big year for offensive coordinator hires, with nearly half the league making changes. Here are the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.

Updated 3-1-23 (3:31pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals 

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Ben McAdoo)

  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach, (Rams): Hired
  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Kellen Moore)

  • Brian Angelichio, tight ends coach (Vikings): Interviewed 2/2
  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach (Rams): Interviewed
  • Jeff Nixon, running backs coach (Panthers): Interviewed
  • Brian Schottenheimer, offensive consultant (Cowboys): Hired

Denver Broncos (Out: Justin Outten)

Houston Texans (Out: Pep Hamilton)

Indianapolis Colts (Out: Parks Frazier)

  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Tee Martin, wide receivers coach (Ravens): Interview requested

Kansas City Chiefs (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Matt Nagy, quarterbacks coach (Chiefs): Hired

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Shane Steichen)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals (Out: Vance Joseph)

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Leslie Frazier)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Al Holcomb)

  • Ejiro Evero, former defensive coordinator (Broncos): Hired
  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): Interviewed
  • Marquand Manuel, safeties coach (Jets): Interviewed
  • Kris Richard, co-defensive coordinator (Saints): Interviewed

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans 

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Renaldo Hill)

  • Derrick Ansley, defensive backs coach (Chargers): Promoted
  • Doug Belk, defensive coordinator (Houston): Interviewed
  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Interviewed

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Ryan Nielsen, Kris Richard)

  • Joe Woods, former defensive coordinator (Browns): Hired

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Jonathan Gannon)

San Francisco 49ers (Out: DeMeco Ryans)

  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): On radar
  • Chris Harris, defensive backs coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/31
  • Kris Kocurek, defensive line coach (49ers): On radar
  • Steve Wilks, former interim head coach (Panthers): Hired

Frank Reich To Call Panthers’ Plays

Frank Reich has both been a non-play-calling OC and a play-calling head coach. After indicating he was not certain to run the Panthers’ offense upon being hired, the second-chance HC confirmed he will do so Tuesday.

Carolina’s new coach said he would be the team’s play-caller to start the season, via The Athletic’s Joe Person (on Twitter), though he stopped short of saying he planned to keep this responsibility throughout his tenure.

I’ve laughed with Thomas about that already. I said: ‘I’m gonna pass it off at some point. I don’t know when,’” Reich said. “And I think there will be a time and a place. I think it’ll become apparent when that is. But I think the right thing for me to do for our team and for our offense right now is for me to continue to use my experience there.”

Reich calling plays in Charlotte makes sense. He held this role throughout his five-season Indianapolis tenure, and his path to the Carolina gig centered on offensive knowhow. The Panthers wanted an experienced, offense-oriented HC; that allowed Reich to beat out Steve Wilks for the job. Had Reich immediately ventured into CEO territory, it would threaten to lessen his impact on his new team.

Reich held non-play-calling OC roles in Philadelphia and San Diego ahead of his Indianapolis stay — one that produced top-10 scoring offenses in 2018, ’20 and ’21. The Colts’ offense regressed considerably last season, and Reich was out of the picture by the midway point. But his overseeing top-10 offenses in two post-Andrew Luck seasons is certainly impressive, given the instability that late-summer retirement created for the Colts.

New Panthers OC Thomas Brown waits next in line to assume this responsibility, and Reich certainly made it sound like that could happen. Brown spent the past three seasons on Sean McVay‘s staff, coaching tight ends and running backs. Brown, 36, is viewed as a rising talent in the coaching ranks, and he spent three years as the University of Miami’s OC in the late 2010s. Taking the reins in Carolina would accelerate his path toward a head coaching job.

Additionally, the Panthers will use a 3-4 scheme under new DC Ejiro Evero, per’s David Newton (on Twitter). The former Broncos DC utilized this alignment — in base sets, at least — during his strong Denver debut. Reich also credited David Tepper (via Person) for backing up his words on spending to fill out the coaching staff. Evero interviewed for all five HC jobs, while Brown drew HC interest from the Texans and interviewed for multiple OC roles elsewhere. The Panthers have also hired Jim Caldwell, Dom Capers and Josh McCown, creating an interesting assistant roster for Reich.

2023 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, 10 NFL teams hired new head coaches. Following the Panthers, Broncos and Texans’ hires, this year’s vacancy count sits at two. Last year’s Saints and Buccaneers moves, however, showed these job openings can emerge at unexpected points.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 2-14-23 (1:30pm CT)

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Coaching Notes: Panthers, Kocurek, Leftwich, Titans

Yesterday, Joseph Person of The Athletic provided a breakdown of the Panthers‘ recent search for a new head coach that ended in the hiring of Frank Reich. There were a few notes of interest that we took away from the behind the scenes look.

The first note of interest is the revelation that, when interim head coach Steve Wilks interviewed for the official role, he laid out his full offensive plan for the search committee. Part of Wilks’ offensive plan relied on the pursuit of Eagles quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson as his offensive coordinator. Johnson’s year coaching a phenomenal season by quarterback Jalen Hurts made him a name to watch for many of the open offensive coordinator jobs around the league. He did end up interviewing with the Rams and Jets for jobs that went to Mike LaFleur and Nathaniel Hackett, respectively.

A second note of interest is likely a clue as to why Wilks didn’t end up as the official head coach of the Panthers. Of the nine candidates Carolina looked at for the position, seven had offensive backgrounds. Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer has a belief that “offensive coordinators-turned-head coaches might have an edge in game management.” That explains why Wilks was so detailed in his offensive plan and, perhaps, how much of an uphill battle he faced.

Lastly, it was reported that Reich was becoming the clear choice for the job by his second interview. “The first time he came in, he was dialed in, laid out his plan,” Fitterer said. “Then when he came back in the second time, he took that plan and went deeper, went to a different level.” Reich was offered the position the next day, prompting an immediate response from the legal team representing Wilks and Brian Flores in their lawsuit accusing the league of racial discrimination.

Here are a few other notes of coaching developments occurring around the NFL:

  • Even though Wilks didn’t get the head coaching position he coveted, he ended up landing a top coordinator position in the league with the 49ers, following the departure of DeMeco Ryans. San Francisco defensive line coach Kris Kocurek received some interest for the Texans defensive coordinator position under his former coordinator and was in consideration for the job that Ryans vacated and Wilks took. Wilks apparently was able to convince Kocurek to stay in the Bay Area, keeping a respected defensive assistant on his staff, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
  • Former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich could be headed to the college ranks, following his recent dismissal from Tampa Bay. According to Grace Remington of 247Sports, Leftwich reached out to Notre Dame about the offensive coordinator position vacated by Tommy Rees, who left to become the offensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa. Leftwich has reportedly remained in contact with the head coach of the Fighting Irish, Marcus Freeman, and remains a strong contender for the job.
  • A slew of coaching updates in Nashville were provided earlier today, with a few smaller assignments sliding under notice. Formerly the running backs coach over star Derrick Henry, Tony Dews has transitioned to the tight ends coaching position for the Titans, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. It was recently reported that former Buccaneers assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust was making her way to Tennessee. Wilson provided clarification that she has been brought on in a defensive quality control role. Justin Hamilton will reportedly join her in a similar role. Finally, Wilson provided news of a departure, reporting that secondary coach Anthony Midget will not be retained in 2023.

Panthers GM Scott Fitterer To Have Final Say Over 53-Man Roster

In his introductory press conference, new Panthers head coach Frank Reich shed some light on how the team will operate with respect to personnel decisions. Per Reich, GM Scott Fitterer will have final say over Carolina’s 53-man roster (Twitter link via Albert Breer of

Reich was clear that this delineation of power is a “paper” one, meaning that he and Fitterer will collaborate on roster construction and staffing decisions. He said, “Scott will have control of the 53. I’ll have control of who’s active, who’s not active. But, ultimately, that’s on paper. In reality, this is 100 percent collaborative. I can already tell that with Scott. We’re gonna work side by side. We’re gonna tirelessly work where we’re gonna have the same vision” (via Anthony Rizzuti of Panthers Wire).

Still, given that former head coach Matt Rhule had full control over the Panthers’ roster and was sometimes reluctant to change his stance on roster-related matters, a new approach could be a welcome change. That is especially true for Fitterer, who took the general manager title upon joining the Panthers in 2021 but who did not get the same chance to exercise his personnel muscles as most other GMs around the league.

Seeing the writing on the wall, Fitterer reportedly began distancing himself from Rhule during the 2021 season, and after Rhule was fired, owner David Tepper was quick to voice his support for his GM. Now, the former Seahawks exec will have more control over his own fate as he and Reich attempt to build on the progress that Carolina showed under interim HC Steve Wilks during the final 12 games of the 2022 campaign.

The Fitterer-Reich partnership is presently seeking a new offensive and defensive coordinator, and the duo will soon be tasked with identifying and acquiring a franchise quarterback. Fitterer and assistant GM Dan Morgan spent much of the fall scouting the top four quarterbacks in the 2023 class — Bryce YoungC.J. StroudWill Levis, and Anthony Richardson — in person, and while some of those passers will be gone by the time Carolina is on the clock with the No. 9 overall pick, the team could consider a trade up.

The Panthers could explore a reunion with Sam Darnold as a bridge option, and it is unclear how Reich feels about 2022 draftee Matt Corral, who is ticketed for a backup role on the 2023 depth chart. One way or another, the upcoming quarterback decision will likely play a major role in the long-term job security of both Fitterer and Reich.

In related news, Reich’s daughter, Hannah Reich Fairman, recently addressed the controversy that her hire as a member of the Panthers’ marketing department engendered. In a now-deleted tweet, Fairman announced on January 8 — the last day of the regular season — that she had accepted the job, which led some to believe that she was hired either to entice Reich to accept the HC post or as part of a pre-arranged deal with Reich. If that were the case, then that would obviously create concerns about the team’s interview process and Rooney Rule compliance.

However, Fairman recently said that she applied for the job while Reich was still employed by the Colts, so the Panthers can credibly argue that her hire was made entirely independently of her father’s (Twitter link via Sheena Quick of FOX 1340). There is no indication that the league is planning an investigation of the matter.

Panthers To Hire Duce Staley, Request OC Interview With Jim Bob Cooter

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 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 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’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.

Latest On Panthers’ DC Search

Today marks the first official day at work for new Panthers head coach Frank Reich, the first domino to fall in the 2023 HC cycle. Much remains to be seen with respect to his staff, including coordinators on both sides of the ball.

On defense, it became clear that Reich’s preference for his new DC was Vic Fangio. The 64-year-old agreed to terms yesterday on a deal with the Dolphins which will see him become the league’s highest-paid coordinator, however, leaving Carolina to look elsewhere to fill the position. A pair of finalists remain in the running.

Those two are Saints co-defensive coordinator Kris Richard and Jets safeties coach Marquand Manuel. Those two are the only candidates other than Fangio to have interviewed for the position, so it comes as little surprise that they remain in the running. Joe Person of The Athletic notes that Carolina has “moved on” to Richard and Manuel as it pertains to the DC opening, with the latter seeming to be in the lead (subscription required).

Josina Anderson of CBS Sports also reports (via Twitter) that Manuel remains the subject of considerable interest from Carolina. The 43-year-old has two years of DC experience, dating back to his time with the Falcons in 2017 and 2018. That post came between tenures in Seattle and Philadelphia prior to his current one in New York. Neither he nor Richard, who has multiple stints as a defensive coordinator on his resume, have experience working with Reich, though they have ties to general manager Scott Fitterer dating back to their shared time with the Seahawks.

Anderson adds that the Panthers could have competition in the form of the Texans for Manuel’s services. Houston is thought to be a potential destination for him in the (expected) event that 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans is hired as the team’s new head coach. Especially if that were to happen, attention could shift once more towards a staffer who does have experience working alongside Reich.

Person names Colts DC Gus Bradley as someone who has been “mentioned” as a candidate to follow Reich to Carolina. As he notes, however, an interview request as not yet been submitted. Anderson tweets that Reich brought up the possibility of hiring the 56-year-old, something ownership was not in favor of. It was then that Fangio was pursued, to the point where the Panthers were willing to give him the league’s largest coordinator contract (Twitter link).

With Reich expected to call plays on offense, the team’s ultimate choice at the DC spot will go a long way in determining their success on that side of the ball. Steve Wilks, who guided Carolina to an impressive run at the end of the season filling in for Matt Rhule, remains on staff for now, but he is likely to head elsewhere with new faces coming in on the Panthers’ sidelines.

Frank Reich Targeting Vic Fangio For Panthers’ DC Role

The Falcons interviewed Vic Fangio for their defensive coordinator job but went in another direction. The Panthers look to be planning a stronger push to bring in the acclaimed defensive mind.

Frank Reich is targeting Fangio to be his DC in Carolina, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reports (on Twitter). While Fangio has also met with the Dolphins and may have a 49ers return in his back pocket, Anderson adds momentum is building toward a Fangio-Reich partnership. Fangio, 64, interviewed with the Panthers last week.

This would be a reunion for Fangio, who was the Panthers’ first DC back in 1995. Reich was on that roster, serving as the team’s starting quarterback for its first three games before moving into a backup role behind then-rookie Kerry Collins. Fangio stuck around in Carolina longer than Reich the first time around, lasting in that DC position through the 1998 season.

Reich and Fangio have otherwise not overlapped, and given the interest in the veteran coordinator, Anderson adds it could take making him the league’s highest-paid DC to finalize this reunion. After the Broncos fired Fangio last January, he has re-emerged as one of the most sought-after coordinator candidates. It will be interesting to see if the well-traveled defensive boss will accept a Carolina offer or wait for one of the other DC jobs — potentially San Francisco’s or with one of the teams still searching for a head coach — to open up.

Prior to coming to Denver, Fangio earned Assistant Coach of the Year acclaim for his work with the 2018 Bears. Chicago led the NFL in scoring defense that season — a 12-4 campaign that earned Matt Nagy Coach of the Year acclaim — and Fangio churned out productive Denver defenses despite repeated issues keeping Von Miller and Bradley Chubb healthy at the same time. Fangio also played a significant role in the 49ers’ back-to-back-to-back NFC championship game appearances in the early 2010s. Fangio has coached in the NFL since 1986 and has been a coordinator for five teams.

While Reich and Fangio would present quite the experienced play-calling tandem, the Panthers also have Marquand Manuel on their radar. The Jets assistant interviewed for the position, and’s Jeremy Fowler notes (on Twitter) the former Falcons DC impressed Panthers brass during the meeting. The Jets’ safeties coach for the past two seasons, Manuel was the Falcons’ DC from 2017-18. The former safety who spent the 2007 season with the Panthers interviewed with the team before Reich’s hire, like Fangio, but he was in Seattle during part of GM Scott Fitterer‘s tenure in the Seahawks’ front office.

Reich’s vision for his staff helped sway the Panthers to hire him, Joe Person of The Athletic adds (subscription required), so how Carolina’s assistant cadre comes together will be interesting to observe. Fangio is one of the biggest names on the market, and considering the options he probably has, it would be quite the get for Reich to start his second-chance HC opportunity.