Skip to main content
Carolina Panthers

Why the Panthers chose Dave Canales

AP23208528157251 (1)

CHARLOTTE — Dave Canales comes to the Panthers with a reputation as a worker with a high football IQ, an energy guy, and a problem solver.

All three traits should be helpful here, as he takes over a team that's looking for improvements on offense.

The 42-year-old Canales has agreed to terms to be the seventh head coach in Panthers franchise history and comes to the team with a significant yet straightforward to-do list.

He's here to lead a whole team, but the focus will be on what he's able to do with second-year quarterback Bryce Young.

Based on his track record, there's at least some evidence he's capable of such a job.


Last year, he took a Buccaneers offensive coordinator job that not everybody wanted since it came a year after the retirement of quarterback Tom Brady. That left them with Kyle Trask and Baker Mayfield, but Canales quickly went to work maximizing what Mayfield was good at.

It obviously worked, as the Bucs not only won the NFC South title and a playoff game, but Mayfield was back to looking like the guy once drafted No. 1 overall in Cleveland.

Taking advantage of a guy who can move and move the ball downfield, the Bucs were seventh in the league in plays of 20 yards or more. And Mayfield, who was with three teams, including this one the season before, looked like a new man.

In 2022, after being traded from Cleveland to Carolina just before training camp, Mayfield never looked settled and was eventually released and landed with the Rams. In 10 games, he completed 60.0 percent of his passes for 2,163 yards (6.0 yards per attempt), with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

This year, Mayfield excelled, completing 64.3 percent of his passes for 4,044 yards (7.3 yards per attempt), with 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

AP23164558582671 (1)

If that was the only reclamation project on Canales's resume, that might be enough.

As quarterbacks coach with the Seahawks the previous year, he helped turn journeyman Geno Smith into a Pro Bowler, as Smith led the league in completion percentage and hit career highs in yards (4,282) and touchdowns (30). And not to demean Smith's 10-year career, but it's the only time he's ever earned league MVP votes.

There are similar stories of position groups improving while he worked with them, including the Seahawks receivers and the time he spent as Russell Wilson's position coach.

But his work can't be reduced to numbers on a page, as he comes to the Panthers with a reputation for positivity and work ethic forged in his upbringing. Growing up in Southern California, he played wide receiver at NAIA Azusa Pacific before a winding road to coaching success that began as a JV coach and included a stint as a cowboy boot salesman.

It's not conventional, and this task wouldn't be described that way either.


But from talking to the people who know both, there are shared characteristics with Morgan that go beyond the shared employer.

Like the Panthers' new GM, he's known in the business for his willingness to start at the bottom and work his way up.

Canales signed up to be an assistant strength coach at Southern Cal under Pete Carroll and left his native Southern California to become his receivers coach in Seattle in 2010. It was an unknown area and a new responsibility for Canales.

That same year, Morgan joined the Seahawks as a scouting intern, the guy who picks players up at the airport, as he began a journey that led the former first-round linebacker to the GM's office.

These two have never been afraid of the work. And now they get to start on it again together.

View photos of Dave Canales during his successful previous stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks.

Related Content