New Panthers coach Frank Reich gets to draft, develop franchise QB
Frank Reich is not blameless in the chaos that consumed the 2022 Colts, but the quarterback situation he coached through until his firing in November did not help his cause.
Matt Ryan, acquired in March from the Falcons, was a shell on himself at 37, turnover prone and looking every bit his age. The former NFL MVP was just the latest in a long line of QB band-aids that Reich had to work with. He started with the great Andrew Luck in 2018, Reich’s first season as Colts coach. But after Luck’s sudden retirement, it was Jacoby Brissett and Brian Hoyer in 2019, Philip Rivers in 2020, Carson Wentz in 2021, and Ryan and Sam Ehlinger this season.
Reich never had the same starting quarterback for a second season, no chance to build off the previous year’s work at the most important position. It was quarterback hell.
That’s why Reich’s new job could empower him.
He was announced Thursday as the new coach of the Panthers, who have the No. 9 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. There’s a very strong chance they’ll be using that top selection on a quarterback.
Carolina has started three signal-callers in each of the previous two seasons, receiving inconsistent production (the Panthers ranked fifth-worst in pass DVOA last season). In 2022, it was Baker Mayfield (six games), Sam Darnold (six) and P.J. Walker (five). Mayfield is no longer on the team — he requested and was granted his release in December — while Darnold and Walker are set to be unrestricted and restricted free agents, respectively.
Panthers name Frank Reich as head coach
Colin Cowherd reacts to the news that Frank Reich, Carolina’s first-ever quarterback, will be the team’s next head coach.
In the top 10 of this year’s draft, and armed with two second-round picks, the Panthers are positioned to grab the blue-chip quarterback that Reich can mold.
Remember, he has never had a chance to do that as a head coach. Luck was already a superstar for the lone season he had him in 2018. Of course, as a quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator, he worked with Peyton Manning (2012-13), Rivers (2013-15) and prime Carson Wentz (2016-17). But this opportunity with Carolina is different as the lead coaching voice.
Considering the Colts’ revolving door at quarterback, Reich’s results were impressive. He had a 40-33-1 record in four and a half seasons. In three of his four full seasons, he had a top-10 scoring offense (fifth in 2018; ninth in 2020 and 2021).
With 14 years of NFL coaching experience on the offensive side of the ball, Reich brings a much-needed voice to help a Panthers offense that struggled last season. Carolina ranked 20th in scoring, 27th in DVOA and 29th in yards allowed on offense. In addition to the quarterback instability, the Panthers didn’t have a 1,000-yard receiver or 1,000-yard rusher. The 61-year-old Reich becomes the franchise’s first-ever head coach with an offensive background.
It’s noteworthy, too, that Reich — who played 13 seasons in the NFL — was the first starting quarterback in Carolina history in 1995.
And in 2022, the Panthers — and Reich — could finally find their franchise quarterback for the next decade.
Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for SeattlePI.com for three seasons (2018-20) prior to moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.
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Source: FOX Sports