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Interim coach Chris Tabor: "We're moving forward"

Chris Tabor

CHARLOTTE — Panthers interim coach Chris Tabor knows he's not walking into an ideal situation, taking over a 1-10 team with six weeks left in the season after the firing of Frank Reich on Monday.

But as the special teams coordinator, he's also used to working with a constantly changing cast of characters and working with the entire roster. He's the only assistant who ends up working with every position group (besides quarterbacks), which could give him a unique perspective on making this kind of sudden change.

"First and foremost, I'd just like to say this: these are tough times because you're talking about relationships, and that's what coaching is," Tabor said Tuesday. "You have relationships with players, you have relationships with other coaches. And a decision was made, and I understand that because the NFL is also a business. I'm well aware of that, and I'm very grateful and thankful for coach Reich keeping me around last year when he first got here. At the same time, I'm thankful for Mr. (David) Tepper's confidence in me and having this opportunity to lead the team these next six games.

"So we're moving forward. Today is a big workday, big game-plan day."

When he finished his interview obligations, Tabor was back upstairs in his regular office (he isn't planning to move down the hall into Reich's old larger space) and back to work on preparing for Wednesday's practice in advance of this week's trip to Tampa Bay.

"I think, obviously, everything that we're always trying to do is put ourselves in a position to win games; that's what we're working on, I mean, really, what we're doing right now," he said. "And I know it's very cliche, but there's a process and today's Tuesday's process. We got to win today to set us up for tomorrow. And if we can do those things, I always say that sets you up for success and gives you an opportunity for success on Sunday. And that's, that's what we're trying to get done."

Tabor wasn't going to get into many specifics about changes he might make in personnel or game plan. 

"No, we've talked about things, and at the same time, I'm going to probably keep those in-house," he said. "You can't overhaul everything, but I think you can do some things and, and we'll work on that."

Chris Tabor

Tabor made the decision Monday to part ways with assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley, along with quarterbacks coach Josh McCown. Tabor said passing game coordinator Parks Frazier would act as quarterbacks coach, while offensive coordinator Thomas Brown would call plays with guidance from senior assistant Jim Caldwell.

Tabor has served as an interim before (subbing in for a game in 2021 in Chicago when Matt Nagy had COVID-19), and said the experience was helpful.

"I have my special teams area now and really just kind of expand everything," he said. "I have to oversee offense and defense and game management, but those are a lot of things that I'm always doing anyway. It's just now; I just have to have a little bit more of a peripheral view."

And since he was here last season when interim coach Steve Wilks coached the team to a 6-6 finish, he thinks there are still things of value to be gained.

"I think there's a lot of things you can learn from that, that experience right there," Tabor said. "I think it still goes back to just winning the day and winning the process. And like I said earlier, I know it's very coach-speak in those things, but I do believe that because in this business, the NFL train is always moving, and the NFL monster will eat you at any time. And you need to be prepared and you need to take the proper steps to set yourself up for success.

"And that's what we're trying to work on right now."

The David and Nicole Tepper Foundation partnered with the Bradley and Nikki Bozeman Foundation for the Bozeman Thanksgiving Bash. The event hosted 1,300 children from the Second Harvest Food Bank Kids' Café program for a special Thanksgiving dinner experience at Top Golf. Panthers players and 80 volunteers helped serve and entertain the kids during a special evening of fun and togetherness.

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