Thomas Brown

Panthers HC Frank Reich Reclaims Play-Calling Duties

NOVEMBER 15: Brown’s initial run as Panthers play-caller will stop after three games. Reich will indeed take back the play-calling reins, he revealed Wednesday. Reich, who called plays throughout his Colts HC tenure, said early this offseason he saw Brown as a future play-caller. The Panthers picked up their first win with Brown calling the shots, though after topping 20 points in three of its first six games, the team has not exceeded 15 over the past three.

While Reich said (via Person and ESPN’s Adam Schefter) this will still be a collaborative process and that it will not impact Brown’s standing with the team, the quick turnaround certainly qualifies as an interesting development for the 1-8 team. Although the Panthers are in a clear rebuild, this season is obviously pivotal to Young’s long-term growth. Through that lens, Reich’s experience calling plays is rather important.

NOVEMBER 14: Frank Reich made it clear before his debut season as Panthers head coach that he would begin the year as the team’s play-caller, but that offensive coordinator Thomas Brown would be handed the reins at some point. A switch was made one month ago, but a quick change in course may be coming soon.

With Carolina struggling to produce on offense early in rookie quarterback Bryce Young‘s career, Reich chose the bye week as the time to delegate to Brown. The latter had never called plays at the NFL level, but his time with the Rams earned him a reputation as one of the league’s top young offensive minds. Brown’s three games in charge have not gone as planned, however, with the Panthers managing just two offensive touchdowns.

When speaking publicly in the wake of Carolina’s Thursday night loss to the Bears, Reich has on multiple occasions declined to confirm that Brown will remain the team’s play-caller. He has indicated, though, via Joe Person of The Athletic, that personnel changes are being considered on offense (subscription required). It remains to be seen what that will entail, but pressure is believed to be mounting for improvements to be made by Reich and Co. before the end of the campaign.

Panthers owner David Tepper has reportedly grown frustrated with the lack of progress shown by Young and a unit which has struggled both on the ground and through the air. Carolina ranks near the bottom of the league in a number of offensive categories, including 29th in both points (17) and yards (305) per game. A lack of week-to-week improvement shown during Brown’s (very brief) period at the helm could lead Reich to take back play-calling duties at some point in the near future, a move which would give the team a more experienced voice guiding the unit.

“However we’ve done the play-calling – whoever’s been doing the play-calling – we haven’t performed as an offense. So let me just make that point clear, first of all, Reich said. “As I look toward, now, the last half of the season, what’s the best dynamic and why? Any decision that’s ultimately made is just gonna be based on that one pure factor. So that’s how we’ll approach it.”

The 1-8 Panthers do not own their first-round pick in 2024 due to last year’s trade which landed them Young. With no incentive to continue their poor first half of the campaign, it will be interesting to see what changes are made down the stretch, and how the offense responds to them.

Panthers’ Frank Reich Cedes Play-Calling Duties To OC Thomas Brown

In the wake of a sixth straight loss to open the season, the Panthers will have a new voice leading the offense on the sidelines. Head coach Frank Reich has ceded play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets.

Reich took charge of guiding Carolina’s offense when he was hired as head coach, a move which led to optimism about the team’s ability to find long-term success on that side of the ball with rookie quarterback Bryce Young and Co. He made it clear on several occasions, however, that he would hand over play-calling duties at some point in the not-too distant future with a well-respected assistant in the form of Brown in place. With Carolina now on the bye week, that time as come.

A report from yesterday indicated Reich would carry on with the current arrangement for the time being, but Week 6 produced another underwhelming performance on offense. The Panthers managed just 188 yards through the air and went a combined 5-for-19 on third and fourth down in a 21-point loss to the Dolphins. Conversations within the organization had led to questions about the team’s ongoing struggles putting up points, something which foreshadowed today’s move. However, Reich confirmed on Monday that this decision was his, not one imposed from the front office.

Brown, 37, has been named as one of the league’s top up-and-coming offensive minds for a few years now. He spent nine years in the college ranks (including three as the University of Miami’s OC) before joining Sean McVay‘s Rams staff in 2020. Brown served as a running backs, and, later, tight ends coach during his time in Los Angeles and he held the title of assistant head coach for his final two years there. His Panthers hire signaled the possibility of handling play-calling duties at the pro level for the first time, and he will now guide the team’s offense moving forward.

Carolina currently sits 23rd in the league in both total and scoring offense, so the team has plenty of room for improvement after the bye. Brown will look to help Young, the top pick in April’s draft, take a step forward from the generally underwhelming start in the NFL he has had so far. Doing so would likely get the team in the win column, and help the front office evaluate a unit which, with the notable exception of veteran wideout Adam Thielen, has not seen signficant production amongst its skill-position group.

A strong showing from Brown on the sidelines would also, of course, help his and Reich’s standing in the organization and quell a perceived need from owner David Tepper to make personnel changes early in the franchise’s latest chapter. Plenty of attention will be on Brown as he looks to prove the confidence placed in him to be well-founded.

NFC South Notes: Saints, Panthers, Edmonds

The Saints made a key tweak to their front office Tuesday, announcing Khai Harley will move into the assistant GM role. Harley has been with the Saints for 16 years, most recently serving as the team’s VP of football administration. Mickey Loomis has credited Harley as being one of the chief architects behind the franchise’s aggressive strategy with regards to the salary cap. Omar Khan used this background to become the Steelers’ GM, and Harley rising to this post may put him on the radar for interviews.

New Orleans also Scott Kuhn as director of football administration, Zach Stuart as director of analytics and Rishi Desai as a scouting assistant. Gaining extensive experience on the analytics front, Kuhn spent 16 years with the Vikings. Stuart spent the past three years as the Jets’ analytics coordinator. Additionally, former safety Matt Giordano is now an assistant on Dennis Allen‘s staff. Giordano, 40, spent one season with the Saints (2010); the 30-game starter also played for the Colts, Packers, Raiders and Rams from 2005-13. Giordano had spent six seasons as head coach of Buchanan High School in his native Fresno, concluding that tenure after the 2021 season.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Although Payton Turner carries a first-round pedigree, he is unlikely to beat out Carl Granderson for the starting role Marcus Davenport vacated this offseason. The Saints are more likely to turn to Granderson — a former UDFA — than Turner opposite Cameron Jordan, Jeff Duncan of notes. Granderson, 26, has stood out in training camp and has two five-plus-sack seasons over the past three years. Turner entered camp after two iffy years, and while the Saints are likely to give the 2021 first-rounder another shot, a rotational role looks to be how this will play out.
  • Jordan’s two-year, $27.5MM Saints extension is fully guaranteed, and it will also include sack incentives. Jordan can pick up an extra $500K with a 10-sack season this year, Nick Underhill of tweets. The 34-year-old defensive end can add $250K by reaching $250K in 2024 and 2025. Sitting 23rd on the official sack list (115.5), Jordan has six double-digit sack slates on his resume — including a 12.5-sack showing in 2021.
  • Frank Reich is in place as the Panthers‘ play-caller to start his HC tenure, but OC Thomas Brown continues to loom as a future option for the post. The first-year Carolina HC said the long-term goal remains to make Brown the play-caller, Darin Gantt of tweets. This is Brown’s first OC post, but he has already booked HC interviews and received interest from other teams regarding their respective OC jobs. A former Rams assistant, Brown earning play-calling responsibilities this year would enhance his case for a top coaching job.
  • Deion Jonesone-year Panthers agreement is worth $1.17MM, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. That doubles as the veteran minimum, though Wilson adds the former Falcons mainstay will receive a $75K bonus for making the Panthers’ 53-man roster. The Falcons gave Jones a four-year, $57MM extension before the 2019 season, but the team cut bait on that deal before the 2022 trade deadline. The Browns also removed a year from Jones’ contract, and scant interest came his way this offseason. This will be a key year for the 29-year-old linebacker.
  • The Panthers included four void years in Justin Houston‘s contract, dropping his cap hit to $2.13MM, Field Yates of tweets. Houston signed a fully guaranteed one-year, $6MM deal earlier this month. The contract will include sack incentives, with Wilson adding Houston will receive $500K by reaching 11 sacks and could earn another $500K by hitting 12 (Twitter link). These are classified as not likely to be earned; Houston has one 11-sack season since 2015.
  • As the Buccaneers prepare to use Rachaad White as their starting running back, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times notes offseason addition Chase Edmonds is locked into the third-down role. Edmonds, who received just $153K guaranteed on a one-year Bucs deal, operated as a solid pass catcher for the Cardinals but is coming off a down year. The Dolphins included him as salary filler in the Bradley Chubb trade, and the Broncos made him a cap casualty in March.

Latest On QB Bryce Young, Panthers’ Offense

The Panthers traded up and drafted Alabama’s Bryce Young No. 1 overall with the intention that he would be the team’s new starter at quarterback. Yet during organized team activities, head coach Frank Reich had presumed backup Andy Dalton running with the starters. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, this isn’t necessarily indicative of the true depth chart but more a practice in efficiency.

Of course, as a coach, you prefer not to hand Young the starting job on a silver platter. You’d rather he “earn” the job by performing better than the other quarterbacks on the depth chart. But expecting a rookie to be better prepared for an entirely new system, when veterans have mostly been at the facilities for five weeks now, is unrealistic.

As a head coach new to his team, Reich is intent on establishing his operation at an optimal, functional level. This early into Young’s tenure, he’s just not prepared enough to run the Panthers’ system to the level that Dalton can. Does this mean that Dalton would forever run with the first string? Likely, not. But until Young is up to speed and ready to efficiently run with the ones, having Dalton behind center has been the best way to implement Reich’s operation. In fact, a week after Breer’s report, David Newton of ESPN reported that, while Dalton is still taking the first snaps with the first team, Young is getting more overall snaps with the first string, indicating the progress that we expect from the top overall draft pick.

The system that’s being implemented is designed for Young, anyway. According to a different report from Newton, Reich is allowing new, first-time NFL offensive coordinator Thomas Brown to design a spread-formation system that meshes some of what Brown learned under Sean McVay in Los Angeles and what Reich ran with the Colts. Brown is building the offense with Young in mind, claiming that he doesn’t want to take away Young’s “superpower.”

Lastly, with Dalton and Young likely cemented in the first two slots of the depth chart, there were rumblings that last year’s third-round pick, Matt Corral, was on the trading block, and perhaps that he wanted to go. The most recent reports from this week, according to Panthers staff writer Darin Gantt, indicate that Corral no longer desires an exit. Corral “made it clear (to the media that) he doesn’t want to be traded,” listing playing for Reich as a major reason for staying.

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

NFL Coaching Updates: Broncos, Brown, Cowboys, Jaguars

Following the departure of former Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett, there has been a litany of change to the coaching staff in Denver. A few of the updates and notes have flown a bit under the radar. For instance, in the midst of new head coach Sean Payton attempting to find his new defensive coordinator, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the team was interested in former Eagles linebackers coach Nick Rallis, who ended up getting hired for the same position in Arizona. Rapoport also avers that Philadelphia, knowing new Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon would be leaving their defensive coordinator position vacant, also had interest in retaining Rallis in an enhanced role as coordinator.

A rumor has also come to light that may explain a bit of why Payton and the Broncos have not yet filled the position. According to Mike Klis of 9NEWS, the Broncos are seeking to retain defensive line coach Marcus Dixon and secondary coach Christian Parker regardless of who they hire at the defensive coordinator position. While a flattering notion towards the two coaches, the move effectively handcuffs whoever accepts the position into working with the two, regardless of system fit. Many of former defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero‘s staff have departed to join him in Carolina, though, and this appears to be the dedication Denver must show in order to retain the remaining assistants.

Klis also tweeted of another departure from the Broncos staff. While not technically a coach, instructional designer John Viera will reportedly be following Hackett to New York. Klis describes Viera as the “coach to the coaches,” detailing that he would lead presentations to the coaching staff.

Here are a few other coaching rumors from around the league:

  • The Panthers hired one of the league’s up and coming coaches this past weekend, announcing the addition of Rams assistant head coach and tight ends coach Thomas Brown as their new offensive coordinator. Rams head coach Sean McVay reportedly didn’t want to lose Brown but didn’t feel he could block him from a great opportunity, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. McVay regarded Brown as one of the best teachers he has worked with, and he was not the only one who noticed. Brown interviewed for the open Dolphins’ head coaching position last offseason and interviewed for the Texans’ job this year, as well. He was also a candidate for several other offensive coordinator positions. Brown’s considered a rising offensive mind in the game brings some intrigue to Carolina as a new play caller.
  • The Cowboys have added two former NFL players to their coaching staff for 2023. Former Vikings first round pick Sharrif Floyd will be officially added to the staff as the assistant defensive line and defensive quality control coach, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. The former defensive tackle, who played under Dan Quinn at Florida, worked with the staff during training camp last year. Todd Archer of ESPN adds that the team is also bringing on former safety and special teams ace Darian Thompson to serve as assistant linebackers and quality control coach. After spending much of 2021 on the practice squad, Thompson did not appear on the field in 2022.
  • In a tweet this week, the Jaguars announced two minor additions to their 2023 coaching staff. Jacksonville has hired former Bills wide receivers coach Chad Hall to serve in the same role for the Jaguars. After coaching Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis for the past four seasons, Hall will join Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson to coach a wide receivers group that surpassed all expectations in 2022 and may benefit even more with the potential addition of suspended receiver Calvin Ridley. The team has also added Greg Austin in the position of offensive quality control coach.
  • After hiring Brian Flores as their new defensive coordinator, the Vikings are parting ways with linebackers coach Greg Manusky, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Manusky has served as defensive coordinator for four different teams over the years. The veteran assistant should have plenty of options moving forward.
  • The Chargers announced a minor addition to their staff this week, according to Matt Zenitz of On3 Sports. Los Angeles will be bringing in former Georgia defensive analyst Robert Muschamp as a quality control coach. Muschamp is the nephew of Georgia co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Will Muschamp and joined his uncle in Athens after two years working in Tennessee.
  • The Texans have hired former Kent State director of football operations and Yale chief of staff Jake Olson to the coaching staff, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. It’s a bit unclear what his role will be, but he will don the title of assistant senior assistant.

Panthers Hire Thomas Brown As OC

Frank Reich‘s Panthers staff continues to see notable additions being made. Carolina is set to hire Rams assistant head coach Thomas Brown as their new offensive coordinator, reports Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). A team announcement has confirmed the news.

The two parties are currently working out the final details of an agreement for the position, Pelissero’s colleague Ian Rapoport tweets. This comes not long after Brown conducted a second interview with the Panthers, and will put him in place for a jump in role but also a move to a different NFL team for the first time in his coaching career at the pro level.

Brown, 36, first joined Sean McVay‘s staff in 2020. He served as the team’s running backs coach that year, but had assistant head coach added to his title the following season. This past campaign saw him work with Los Angeles’ tight ends as the Rams have endured a number of departures on their staff in recent years. Brown had established himself as a key McVay staffer, though, and his loss will certainly be felt.

The Rams lost Liam Coen to Kentucky at the end of the 2022 season, and quickly pivoted to Mike LaFleur as his replacement for the role of offensive coordinator. Brown was mentioned as a potential in-house candidate for the position, but did not take part in a known interview. He also received interest from Arizona State for their head coaching vacancy, but will now take on a coordinator position for the first time since he worked at the college level.

The only other candidate connected to Carolina’s OC gig was Jim Bob Cooter, so it comes as little surprise that Reich has landed Brown just after their second sit-down. The latter’s hire marks another highly-acclaimed staffer who is headed to Charlotte. Reich has made a slew of moves not long after coming aboard as the team’s head coach, including new additions for both the offensive and defensive coordinator spots.

Ejiro Evero is in place as the Panthers’ DC, a move which came after he enjoyed a successful first season in Denver at the helm of the Broncos’ defense. That will make he and Brown a relatively inexperienced coordinator tandem, but Reich has added plenty of veteran staffers as well recently. That includes Dom Capers coming aboard as a senior assistant, something which represents a full-circle transaction of sorts given his and Reich’s shared history during the early days of the franchise.

Brown will inherit an offense which will also have former Colts OC Parks Frazier on hand. The Panthers struggled outside of the running game last season, and their QB situation very much remains up in the air. It has also not been confirmed whether or not Reich will call plays, though Brown’s status as a rookie coordinator certainly points to that setup being likely. In any event, Brown will have a key role in helping a celebrated staff craft a step forward in Carolina in 2023.

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

Buccaneers, Panthers To Conduct Second OC Interviews With Thomas Brown

A number of offensive coordinator vacancies have still not yet been filled, in no small part due to the interest being shown in staffers taking part in this year’s Super Bowl. One assistant who is free to join a new team at any time, however, is scheduled to meet with a pair of suitors.

Rams tight ends coach Thomas Brown will interview for a second time with both the Buccaneers and Panthers, reports Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (via Twitter). Brown was the subject of Tampa Bay’s most recent first interview for their Byron Leftwich replacement; that sit-down obviously went well, as he is among the next round of candidates. Pelissero notes that Brown will interview on Wednesday.

One day later, though, Brown will head to Carolina for a second interview with the Panthers, per Pelissero. Brown had not previously been connected to the OC position in Charlotte, one which was occupied in 2022 by Ben McAdoo. With the arrival of head coach Frank Reich, it comes as no surprise that a new direction is the target on offense, as it was on defense as well with the hiring of Ejiro Evero.

The Panthers struggled on offense early in 2022, one of the top contributing factors to Matt Rhule‘s midseason dismissal. That move was followed by the trade sending running back Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers, a signal of the Panthers’ intentions with respect to competing down the stretch. However, their ground game remained strong to close out the season under interim HC Steve Wilks. Overall, though, they struggled in the air and ranked 29th in total offense and 20th in scoring.

Brown, 36, has been rising in acclaim in recent years as he takes on a larger role with Sean McVay and the Rams. With a background coaching both running backs and tight ends, he could be a contributor to both the running and passing game. Brown has not been a coordinator at the NFL level, however, meaning his hire would likely leave play-calling duties with Reich.

Brown is the only reported Carolina candidate so far aside from Jim Bob Cooter. With respect to the Bucs, he is part of a much longer list of staffer connected to the position. The possibility of remaining in Los Angeles still remains, of course, but Brown is very much on the radar for a possible move to the NFC South.

Buccaneers Interview Thomas Brown For OC Position

A new name has been added to the list of candidates for Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator vacancy. The team announced on Friday that Rams tight ends coach Thomas Brown interviewed with the Buccaneers to discuss their OC position.

The meeting was conducted virtually, and came not long after Tampa Bay’s only reported second interview. That, surprisingly, involved Bengals QBs coach Dan Pitcher, who had recently signed a new deal with Cincinnati. The Buccaneers continue to cast a wide net in their search for Byron Leftwich‘s replacement and with it, a more balanced approach on offense.

The NFC South champions averaged just under 270 passing yards per game in 2022, which was the second-highest figure in the NFL. However, they had the league’s worst rushing attack (77 yards per contest), and struggled to establish a rhythm during what turned out to be Tom Brady‘s final season under center. Given the tension reportedly involving he, head coach Todd Bowles and Leftwich, it came as little surprise that the latter was fired after the Buccaneers’ wild card loss.

Given his background, Brown could represent a logical candidate to help fix Tampa’s woes with respect to their ground game. The 36-year-old has been with the Rams since 2020, his first foray into coaching at the NFL level. Over that time, he held the title of running backs coach and assistant head coach in addition to his current one. Brown has widely been seen as one of the league’s top young offensive minds for some time now, as he has taken on an increasingly important role on Sean McVay‘s staff.

That made Brown a candidate for the Rams’ OC position, but the team went outside the organization in hiring Mike LaFleur. The former has also drawn considerable interest in this year’s cycle from other teams, however; Brown interviewed with the Cowboys in the wake of Kellen Moore‘s departure. He also met with the Chargers and Commanders for their respective OC vacancies, the latter of which has yet to be filled.

With Brown now potentially in the running in Tampa Bay, here is an updated look at the Buccaneers’ ongoing search: