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Panthers Fire Frank Reich after 11 Games and Name Chris Tabor their Interim Head Coach

November 28, 2023

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Frank Reich era in Carolina is over after only 11 games.

The Carolina Panthers fired their coach on Monday following the team’s NFL-worst 1-10 start in his first year at the helm.

Panthers owner David Tepper announced the move hours after several news outlets reported that he used a profanity as he was leaving the locker room following a 17-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Tepper hired Reich to fix one of the league’s worst offenses over the past few seasons and develop Bryce Young, the No. 1 overall pick whom he gave up four draft picks and top wide receiver D.J. Moore to acquire this past offseason in the hopes of winning multiple Super Bowls.

Instead, the Panthers are assured a franchise-record sixth straight losing season.

The Panthers are 30-63 since Tepper bought the team from Jerry Richardson in 2018 for $2.275 billion and have never made the playoffs.

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will take over as interim head coach. Offensive coordinator Thomas Brown will become the team’s play caller, with senior assistant Jim Caldwell serving as his special adviser.

Tabor’s first move as interim coach was to fire quarterbacks coach Josh McCown and running backs coach Duce Staley, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the moves have not been announced.

McCown and Staley were handpicked by Reich to be assistants.

When Tepper makes his next head coaching hire after the season, it will be the seventh full-time or interim head coach to serve under him.

Tepper is scheduled to address reporters Tuesday at a news conference at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers canceled all media access Monday.

Reich is the second NFL head coach to be fired this season, joining Josh McDaniels of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Reich was fired earlier in his tenure than any head coach since Pete McCulley, who went 1-8 with San Francisco in 1978. He is the seventh NFL head coach in the last six years to be fired during or after just one season, joining Lovie Smith (Houston, 2022), Nathaniel Hackett (Denver, 2022), David Culley (Houston, 2021), Urban Meyer (Jacksonville, 2021), Freddie Kitchens (Cleveland, 2019) and Steve Wilks (Arizona, 2018).

Phone calls and text messages sent to Reich seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Tepper has shown a lack of patience as a team owner. Reich is the Panthers’ third head coach fired during the season under Tepper.

He also owns the Major League Soccer team in Charlotte and has fired two coaches in the organization’s first two years of existence.

On the NFL front, Tepper inherited Ron Rivera as his head coach in 2018 but fired him less than two years later during the season. Perry Fewell finished out the season before Tepper gave Matt Rhule, who previously coached at Baylor, a seven-year, $63 million contract. But Rhule lasted less than 2 1/2 season before Tepper dismissed him and replaced him with Wilks, the Panthers’ defensive coordinator, on an interim basis.

Tepper then hired Reich, who as offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles helped them win the Super Bowl before becoming head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, who fired him last season. Wilks is now the defensive coordinator for San Francisco.

Carolina still ranks near the bottom of the league in nearly every offensive category. The Panthers are 30th in the league in total offense and 30th in passing yards per game and haven’t scored more than 15 points in a game since the bye week.

Reich had signed a four-year contract with the Panthers that runs through the 2026 season. Tepper will be on the hook for an estimated $9 million per season over the next three seasons.

Reich had experience running good NFL offenses, but that didn’t translate over to the Panthers.

Young has been sacked 40 times this season, and the Panthers’ offensive line has allowed 43 overall over in 11 games, fourth most in the NFL. Young has been under heavy pressure most of the season, making it difficult to evaluate his progress as a quarterback.

But the former Alabama product has failed to progress as a quarterback and ranks near the bottom of the league in most statistical categories. He has yet to throw for 250 yards in a game and has nearly as many interceptions (eight) as touchdown passes (nine).

Because of their record, the Panthers could possibly land the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, but that immediately would go to the Chicago Bears because of the trade for Young.

 

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