The only thing remotely shocking about Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper firing head coach Frank Reich was the timing. With the Panthers sitting at 1-10 with no signs of improvement whatsoever, it was going to be a long shot for the franchise’s first starting quarterback to keep his key fob beyond his first season at the helm. However, after the loss column hit double digits following a 17-10 road loss to the 3-win Tennessee Titans, the billionaire hedge fund manager had seen enough. After all, this was considered league-wide to be an all-star staff with veteran pieces to insulate the quarterback they traded up to take with the No. 1 overall pick. The offensive line was coming off a strong end to the 2022 season. Fans were excited. The Panthers had their franchise quarterback. The light at the end of a seasons-long tunnel was finally here – or so we thought.
Instead, the season quickly spiraled out of control. While no one expected Carolina to hit double digit wins right away, this team was not supposed to look this bad. The offensive line regressed badly and Bryce Young was constantly in peril. The running game has been spotty at best and when Young did have time to throw, there was little to no wide receiver separation. So, in a season where the NFC South is there for the taking, the Panthers find themselves looking for any semblance of improvement to get just their second win as the NFL heads into Week 13. They will do so with special teams coordinator Chris Tabor serving as the interim head coach while working closely with Senior Assistant Jim Caldwell.
Shortly after news of Reich’s firing came the terminations of quarterbacks coach Josh McCown and running backs coach Duce Staley. Parks Frazier will take over the quarterbacks room while offensive coordinator Thomas Brown will handle play calling duties. Some pondered why Caldwell, who has extensive head coaching experience, was not named the interim. David Tepper’s brief Tuesday morning press conference did not offer any insight to the decision so we can only speculate. Could it be that Tabor was the safe bet? There would be no pressure to hire him for the permanent position whereas Caldwell had interviewed for the opening earlier this year with Reich getting the gig instead.
With Reich gone, attention has shifted to general manager Scott Fitterer’s future in Charlotte. Carolina has had six different head coaches – three permanent and three interims – since Tepper purchased the team in 2018. Fitterer was hired in 2021 when Tepper fired former GM Marty Hurney. Many are calling for a clean sweeping of the front office due to the need for a complete roster overhaul. While Tepper has remained tight-lipped about the situation, Fitterer has to be feeling the heat right now.