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Carolina Panthers

Frank Reich's background and contacts will be key to developing offense

Frank Reich

CHARLOTTE — With more than 30 years of experience in the NFL as a player and a coach, Frank Reich has a deep list of contacts.

And that's part of the reason he's set to become the sixth head coach in Panthers' history.

Reich's ability to build a coaching staff and lay out a plan to develop the players on hand were a big part of why they chose him Thursday.

And building his coaching staff is the first big job for him.

He's only a couple of hours removed from agreeing to terms on his new deal, so there are few details at the moment. But during the interview process, his depth chart of potential coaches was one of the things that stood out to the team's decision-makers.

Staffing was somewhat of an issue in recent years — in terms of both experience and turnover. The hope is that with Reich's ties throughout the NFL, he will be able to build a staff quickly (possibly including some existing staffers). But that's a job for the days to come.

The bigger job will be to put his imprint on an offense that will be the priority.

The Panthers have never had a head coach with an offensive background in franchise history, and perhaps not coincidentally, they've only had three top-10 offenses during those first 28 years.

Reich walks in the door with a background with quarterbacks, from being a backup (on the Bills teams that went to four straight Super Bowls) and a starter (the expansion Panthers in 1995). He was also Peyton Manning's quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis and led three top-10 offenses there with three different quarterbacks.

That background will be helpful in Charlotte since he walks in the door with some significant challenges.

The Panthers have exactly two quarterbacks under contract at the moment, and they're Matt Corral, who didn't play a snap his rookie year because of a preseason foot injury, and Jacob Eason, who played five snaps at the end of a Week 6 loss to the Rams. The rest of the 2022 depth chart at the most important position is either gone already (Baker Mayfield) or headed to free agency (Sam Darnold, PJ Walker, another former Colt). And while the ninth pick in the 2023 NFL Draft gives them some options, it's not as if there's a surefire, turn-key starter waiting to be picked in April.

The Panthers are thin at running back, having traded Christian McCaffrey at midseason. Fill-in D'Onta Foreman ran well, but he's a free agent, so he has choices to make.


At wide receiver, there's DJ Moore as the one known commodity. He's never known quarterback stability in his life, but he's always produced, at least before last season. The 888 yards he put up were his fewest since his rookie year, but also nearly 400 yards more than the next guy on the list (Terrace Marshall Jr., who has shown flashes). The tight ends room includes some versatile parts and blockers, but not the kind of consistent downfield target in the passing game to put up big numbers.

The offensive line is good, better than it's been in years, but it still has question marks. Right guard Austin Corbett is rehabbing a torn ACL which will keep him out until close to the start of the regular season. Left guard Brady Christensen's dealing with a shorter rehab after breaking his ankle in the regular season finale, but he could miss the offseason work. Plus, center Bradley Bozeman is an unrestricted free agent, so there's still a hint of uncertainty, even with the other four starters under contract through at least 2024.

That's a lot for Reich to process in a short amount of time.

But with his background in the NFL, they're hoping he's the man for the job.

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