The Carolina Panthers have found their new head coach. The team announced on Thursday that Frank Reich has been hired as the sixth head coach in franchise history.
The hiring of Reich comes just over two months after he was fired by the Colts as their head coach following a 3-5-1 start to the season. However, before being let go by Indy, Reich had a lot of success with the Colts, leading them to the playoffs twice during his four-and-a-half seasons with the team.
The former Colts coach was one of two finalists along with with Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks, according to CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones. Wilks took over in October after the Panthers fired Matt Rhule following a 1-4 start to the season. During 12 games with the Panthers, not only did Wilks lead them to a 6-6 record, but he led them back into contention for the NFC South title.
As for Reich, he originally interviewed for Carolina's head coaching job in mid-January before returning for a second interview on Wednesday (Jan. 25). He clearly wowed owner David Tepper in the second interview, because less than 24 hours later, he was offered the job.
Reich's biggest issue during his time with the Colts was that he never found a franchise quarterback, and now, he's going to have that same problem staring him straight in the face with the Panthers.
During his time in Indy, Reich coached the team for five regular-season openers and he had five different Week 1 starting quarterbacks in that span (Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan).
In Carolina, the first thing he's going to want to figure out is the quarterback situation. The Panthers used three different starters in 2022 -- Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and P.J. Walker -- but Mayfield is already gone and it won't be surprising if Darnold and Walker are both soon gone since they both have expiring contracts (Walker did spend some time on the Colts' practice squad while Reich was the coach in 2018, so it's possible the new coach could hold on to him since he's familiar with the quarterback).
The Panthers have another QB option in Matt Corral, who was selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but Reich will likely look to bring in a veteran. The Panthers have a strong defensive nucleus -- with players like Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, Jaycee Horn and Jeremy Chinn -- and if they can get their QB situation figured out, they could quickly turn into a contender in the NFC South.
One thing is for sure, Reich will bring a history of success with him. Not only did he go 40-33-1 during his time with the Colts, but he also was the offensive coordinator for an Eagles team that won the Super Bowl in 2017. With the Panthers now having gone five straight seasons without a winning record, that's the kind of offensive pedigree the team could use right now, and Tepper seems to realize that, because the 61-year-old is the first head coach in franchise history with an offensive-minded background.
Reich also comes with a major Carolina connection. The former NFL quarterback actually played for the Panthers during the team's expansion season in 1995. Not only did he start three games for the Panthers, but he actually was under center to take the team's first offensive snap 28 years ago.