The Carolina Panthers have hired the sixth full-time coach in team history. After a one-month coaching search, the team brought in the man who was the first quarterback in franchise history — Frank Reich.
The Panthers fired Matt Rhule early in the 2022 season, and interim coach Steve Wilks finished the year. He and Reich were reportedly the finalists for the permanent position after Carolina interviewed at least nine candidates during an extensive search in January. Of the nine known candidates, seven were offensive coordinators or, like Reich, had an offensive background. Wilks, who was promoted to the interim job from defensive coordinator, was one of only two candidates with defensive backgrounds.
Reich, who played in the ACC at the University of Maryland, spent nine seasons as backup quarterback, primarily to Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, on the Buffalo Bills. After starting eight games over that span, the Panthers signed him prior to their inaugural 1995 season to be their starting quarterback. Reich lost the first three games of the season, completing 44% of his passes and throwing two touchdowns and two interceptions, posting a 58.7 passer rating. He was replaced by top draft pick Kerry Collins and did not appear in another game for the team.
Reich served as an assistant on NFL staffs from 2006 to 2017, with the Colts, Cardinals, Chargers and Eagles. He spent four seasons as offensive coordinator, winning a Super Bowl with the Eagles. He was then hired as head coach of the Colts in 2018 and compiled a 40-33-1 record with the team before being fired during this past season.
Reich is the first Panthers head coach with an offensive background.
ESPN reported that Reich still owns a home in the Charlotte area from his time with the team, and one of his daughters was recently hired by the team for a marketing job.