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Frank Reich hands off play-calling to Thomas Brown

Thomas Brown, Frank Reich

CHARLOTTE — From the day he became the Panthers head coach, Frank Reich intended to pass off the play-calling to his offensive coordinator someday.

He didn't know it would be today, but timelines can change when you're 0-6.

Reich said Monday he was handing the duties to Thomas Brown, effective immediately, giving them the chance to work over the bye week to prepare for the new division of labor.

"It's always been part of the plan," Reich said. "Something Thomas and I have discussed from the time that he was hired. I'm excited for this, for Thomas.

"I'm excited for our team and our offense; Thomas is a stud. He's a great leader. He's a brilliant offensive mind."

The Panthers rank 23rd in the league in total offense add points, 23rd in passing offense and 22nd in rushing offense after six weeks.

Reich said he "hinted" to Brown a few weeks ago that the bye week might be a natural time to make the switch, given the extra week to put the processes in place. He let Brown call plays in the second halves of preseason games and said he realized then Brown was someone he'd be comfortable working with despite their lack of background together.

"I think what was different about this situation and why I didn't do it right from the start, maybe was because I didn't know Thomas before this year," Reich said. "And so it was going to be a question of us kind of working together, getting into the season, and obviously because his aptitude is so high and how fast he is as a thinker and on his feet.

"I knew it was not a question of if, just when. The play-calling thing is still going to be collaborative. Thomas is going to lead it. He's in charge of it; he'll make the call."

Thomas Brown

Reich has always called his own plays through his tenure as the Colts head coach and admitted that there was no pride in being 0-6 as a play-caller this year. But his conversations with Brown as they built the team's playbook this offseason — with components of Reich's background in a Philadelphia-style offense that leans into no-huddle and Brown's from the Rams with the emphasis on creating illusions with motions and formations — convinced him that Brown would be getting the job sooner rather than later.

"I know it's time, but there's a little bit of it that's hard, right?" Reich said. "Because I do like calling it. You like being right in the middle of the action; you like being responsible in the crosshairs, good or bad. You've got to live with that. I've always loved that about this game.

"But, at this stage, I think for me to be a better head coach — and part of my job as the head coach is coaching the coaches and helping develop the coaches — that whatever small role that I can play in helping Thomas take that step and become a great coordinator and play caller, I look forward to that."

When asked if he was encouraged to make this switch by owner David Tepper, Reich said it was "100 percent my decision, from start to finish." He said he's had conversations with Tepper and general manager Scott Fitterer about the topic for weeks, and he always felt like the bye served as a sensible "checkpoint."

And clearly, he felt ready to make a change.

View all the action from the Panthers' game in Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins.

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