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Who is Brad Idzik? Uncovering the Panthers offensive coordinator

Brad Idzik

CHARLOTTE—Who is Brad Idzik?

Beyond his lineage, there is little (yet) known about the Carolina Panthers newest offensive coordinator. He spent two years at Lehigh University, then finished with two years of football at Wake Forest. He served as a graduate assistant at Stanford, then joined the Seattle Seahawks staff in 2019, working under Dave Canales.

At 32 years old, Idzik is, as of now, the youngest OC in the NFL.

He was born in North Carolina to a league legacy family. Grandfather John Idzik Sr. was a two-sport and two-way football player for the Maryland Terps. After serving two years in the Marine Corps, he coached at the college level for over a decade before moving on to the NFL. Idzik Sr. coached with the Dolphins, the Eagles, the Jets, and twice with the Baltimore Colts.

John Idzik Jr. was a graduate assistant at Duke University when Brad was born, then joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, eventually becoming assistant general manager. He worked in the front office of the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, and Jacksonville Jaguars and spent two years as the general manager for the New York Jets.

That is pretty much the extent of what the internet knows about Brad Idzik, offensive coordinator for the Panthers. So, to better understand Carolina's coordinator, one must go back to his time in Winston-Salem.

To be clear, that doesn't mean examining his playing time while at Wake Forest, frankly, because there is none. He appeared in only one game versus Notre Dame, recording no stats.

His former position coach confessed after decades of coaching, he didn't remember much about a wide receiver who didn't record a catch in a game. Former Panthers player, coach, and a Wake Forest favorite son, Ricky Proehl, apologetically revealed he couldn't recall having spent any time around Idzik previously, whether at Wake Forest or with both being wide receiver coaches in the league.

"I wish I could help you," Proehl said with a laugh.

While with the Demon Deacons, Idzik stayed under the radar, which seems to be his modus operandi. But he arrived with a singular goal: to work in the NFL. When asked what he hoped to do with his future, that was his answer. Not play in the NFL; work. It was a distinction that was important but destined and clear.

He'd spent each of his previous four summers working in the equipment room and as security for the Seahawks. He'd spent a lifetime watching his father navigate salary caps and front offices. When he said he wanted to work in the NFL, that was the capacity he pictured, following his father's footsteps to the front office.

However, something did happen while at Wake Forest, even if it didn't make the record books. Idzik fell in love with the locker room.

Speaking to Pewter Report, while serving as the wide receivers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, Idzik said he changed his path while with the Demon Deacons because "I can't get rid of that. I can't take another step away from the locker room feel. And being a coach, that's as close as you can get."

He tweaked his goal and followed it with a singular focus. In turn, it created a young player who might not have stood out to the casual observer…but he stood out to Steed Lobotzke.

Lobotzke is currently the offensive line coach for the Air Force football team. From 2001 to 2013, he was the offensive coordinator at Wake Forest, where he first crossed paths with Brad Idzik.

He stood out, Lobotzke admitted, somewhat because of his name and legacy. Mostly, though, because he should have been unremarkable, non-memorable, yet instead, Lobotzke was fascinated.

"There are certain players that come through a program when you're coaching, and they leave vague impressions; and like some guys are great players, but they'll never be coaches. They don't have a head for the game; they don't have the demeanor," Lobotzke explained this week.

"And then there's some players that aren't great players, but you just tell from day one, you're like, this guy would be a great coach."

Dave Canales, Brad Idzik

Idzik was the latter.

"He had the name that kind of opened your eyes, and then he backed it up with that mental way of just carrying himself," Lobotzke continued, "attacking this where you just thought, 'This guy is going to be a great one someday. I need to stay in touch with this dude so I can go work for this guy someday.'"

While in high school, Idzik played football and ran track, serving as a captain for both. He was a conference and district championship competitor in 300-meter hurdles and a conference championship qualifier in 110-meter hurdles, triple jump, and 4x100-meter relay. An injury during his senior year of high school derailed his playing football and running track. An ACL tear his freshman year at Lehigh set him back even further.

But no matter. He had a different goal than playing anyway. It was evident in everything he did and, eventually, in everything coaches asked of him.

"I think the more guys you coached over the years and the more guys you see get into coaching, you start to recognize the characteristics," Lobotzke said. "It's just the way he walks around with an understanding of the game…(Brad) was just that guy that gave off the energy of coach.

"He was, 'I understand exactly what you're trying to do with this, with this play, with this drill, and I'm going to give you all I got, and it's going to be perfect, and you just let me know if it's good enough to get on the field.' When you have a guy like that, you can kind of see it just instinctually."

The understanding was so instinctual, Lobotzke joked; if Idzik did something wrong, the coach wondered how he had taught it wrong because that must have been the disconnect.

As such, Lobotzke began fostering the future NFL coach.

"You don't have to spend a lot of time coaching those guys; you're spending the time coaching the other guys, the knuckleheads, the guys that don't get it. You're coaching a group, and you're like, 'Hey, Brad, (go over there and) get that guy straight.'

"From early on, you're doing that with a guy like Brad. You're like, 'Brad, I understand you're just an (underclassman) but help that junior in the back here.'"

Since then, that's what Brad Idzik has been doing: helping this guy here and that guy there. He is helping coach under Dave Canales, who he's followed to a third team now, leading two receiver rooms filled with Pro Bowlers along the way in Seattle and Tampa Bay.

In 2023, future Hall-of-Famer Mike Evans had the second-best season of his career, with 79 receptions for 1,255 yards and 13 touchdowns, tying the Dolphins' Tyreek Hill for most in the NFL. Following Russell Gage's injury, Idzik helped develop rookie Trey Palmer, who had 39 receptions for 385 yards and three scores.

There's still a lot for Carolina Panthers fans to learn about their newest offensive coordinator. For now, though, who is Brad Idzik?

A legacy, the youngest coordinator in the league, and someone born to be a coach.

Check out photos from the Lowe's NFL Experience, where Panthers quarterback Bryce Young and Panthers Legend Luke Kuechly interacted with fans, tossed some footballs and even made pancakes.

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