Skip to main content

Joe Brady's meteoric rise brings him to Carolina, where he's been given the keys to the Panthers offense


CHARLOTTE – What have the past few days been like for Joe Brady?

"It's been a blur," he said with a smile.

On Monday, Brady and the LSU Tigers won the national championship over Clemson.

On Wednesday, he arrived in Charlotte to finalize his contract as Panthers offensive coordinator.

"It's happened fast," said Brady, who was passing game coordinator/WRs coach at LSU. "But look, these are the opportunities you look forward to, the reasons you coach. To win a national championship with all the hard work those players put in and to be able to call yourself a champion at the college level – that's something they can't take away from you. And now here I am in Charlotte representing the Panthers. It's hard to put into words. But I'm really excited for the future."

Brady's rise has been meteoric.

Just seven years ago he was a 23-year old linebackers coach at William & Mary, his alma mater.

So what would 23-year-old Joe Brady have said then if he was told he would be an NFL offensive coordinator in 2020?

"I had high expectations for myself. The quote I live by is, 'No one rises to low expectations.' But to say offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers? I don't think I would have expected that," Brady said. "The places I've been have prepared me well. I knew with the right work ethic and approach that anything was possible in this business."

Brady has been one of the hottest names in coaching after the country watched in awe as LSU's offense piled up points throughout their undefeated season.

Now he'll work under head coach Matt Rhule, who came to Carolina after rebuilding the programs at Temple and Baylor.

Rhule and Brady don't have any obvious connections. They've never worked together before.

But they did cross paths back in 2014 when Brady was just getting his feet wet in the business.

"I've been following Coach Rhule for a while," Brady said. "When I was the linebackers coach at William & Mary in 2014, my first professional development that I did was a trip up to Temple and I sat down with Coach Rhule and (defensive coordinator Phil) Snow. I had an opportunity to learn what Coach Rhule has done from a culture standpoint everywhere he's been.

"I had just gotten into the business. I had no relationships. It was a great opportunity for me to sit down and learn. It was really rewarding. I love how it has all come full circle and I'm excited to be a part of what he's going to build here."

Below is more from the conversation with Brady.

How would he describe his offensive philosophy?

"The most important thing that we do from a system standpoint is we find out what our players do well so we can put them in position to have success. I don't believe that a system is, this is what we do regardless of who we have. Now, it's critical that we find a vision for each and every player. The offense that we're looking to have is one that applies pressure. I don't believe defenses are the only ones that apply pressure. We can do that in multiple ways, whether that's formations, whether that's personnel groupings or tempo. It's our job to exploit mismatches and move guys around to get them the matchups that we want. Applying pressure, getting your speed in space, making defenses defend every blade of grass and just let your players do what they do best."

At 30 years of age, he's the youngest coordinator in the NFL. How prepared does he feel for the role?

"Look, I've prepared for this moment since I got into coaching. I never thought about my age or talked about my age. The players I coach and the people I work with – they've never thought about my age as a downfall. They see the work ethic and the preparation and how I approach things. They don't see 30 years old. They see a guy who is doing everything he can for us to win."

How does the spread system he helped install at LSU translate to the NFL?

"In a way, you are almost limited at the college level with the amount of time you can have with your players. Now I can expand upon that package and hone in on some new things that we didn't have an opportunity to get to. But from an offensive structure standpoint, yes, that all can translate. We'll put together a system as a staff and I'm excited to see the end result."

The Tigers offense had a lot of talent and a lot of fun tearing through defenses. How important is it to him that his players bring that energy and passion to the field?

"I think it's everything. The big thing we used at LSU was 'everybody eats.' Everybody needs to understand they have a vital role to our success. Football is a game and we all need to have fun playing it. I know it's a business, but if you are not having fun, you are just there. I wanted my guys – especially the receiver units – to make plays and have fun playing a game. It doesn't have to be more than it needs to be. And when we get in the end zone, we're going to have a lot of fun doing it. When the guys believe in the system and the approach, that's when you see the results."

Brady knows the Panthers well after spending two years as an offensive assistant with the rival Saints (2017-18). How does he feel about the group he inherits?

"It's hard to dive into it without really studying them. I know from a personnel standpoint that we have a lot of skill and speed, and I'd love to get them in space. We have to have five guys – and potentially six with the quarterback (run) – that defenses will have to worry about on any given snap."

Any messages from Heisman-winning quarterback Joe Burrow since taking the job?

"I have heard from Joe Burrow. To sum it up, he said he appreciated me. I'll keep it at that (laughs)."