The Panthers hire former Colts head coach Frank Reich as the new head coach

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Frank Reich, the first game quarterback in Carolina Panthers history in 1995, is now the team’s sixth head coach.

Owner David Tepper selected Reich, 61, after an extensive search that included nine candidates, including interim coach Steve Wilkes and former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.

Ultimately, it came down to Reich and Wilkes, who led 6-6 after Matt Rule was sent off after a 1-4 start. Wilkes was the favorite of the Carolina players for a full-time job.

Wigdor LLP, the New York City-based law firm representing Wilkes in his discrimination lawsuit against the NFL for firing him after one season (2018) as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, responded to the decision to hire Reich on Twitter.

“We are shocked and disturbed by the amazing job Coach Wilkes has done as interim head coach, including getting the team back into playoff contention and rallying player and fan support, as he has been passed over for the head coach position by David Tepper.

“There is a legitimate racial problem in the NFL and we can assure you we will have more to say in the coming days.”

Reich, who was fired as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in November, is the first offensive coach hired in Carolina history.

That played a big part in the decision to hire him in place of Wilkes, whose background was in defence.

Seven of the nine candidates had offensive backgrounds in a search centered around fixing the quarterback position and an offense that’s been in a state of flux since quarterback Cam Newton started suffering shoulder problems in the middle of the 2018 season.

Since then, Carolina has had eight different quarterbacks start at least one game and finish no better than 19th in the NFL. And that has played a major role in the Panthers losing five straight seasons since Tepper bought the franchise in 2018 for a then-$2.275 billion.

“Winning is the most important thing both on the court and in the community,” Tipper said at the time, “and I’m committed to winning a Super Bowl together.”

Reich went to four Super Bowls as a player with the Buffalo Bills, where he was primarily a backup. As a coach, he won a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2017 season in which he was the offensive coordinator.

In 2017, he assisted Reich Carson Wentz Go 11-2 with MVP-caliber numbers before season-ending injury and Nick Falls He became the Super Bowl MVP in a 41-33 win over the New England Patriots.

He also worked with future Hall of Fame quarterback Philip Rivers with the San Diego Chargers and Colts.

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Siriani, whose team is in the NFC Championship, got emotional earlier this season when he spoke of his respect for Reich.

“I’m emotional because I love Frank Reich,” said Siriani, who was the quarterbacks coach under the Chargers’ then-San Diego offensive coordinator from 2014-15 and was Reich’s offensive coordinator with the Colts from 2018-20. “He’s one of the best damn football coaches I’ve ever had. … He’s one of my biggest mentors.”

Reich was fired by the Colts after a 3-5-1 start, ending his tenure with the team just over a year after extending his contract through the 2026 season.

He was 40-33-1 over four seasons at Indianapolis, 1-2 in the postseason.

Reich was forced to go into each of his five seasons in Indianapolis with a different starting quarterback — Andrew Luck, Jacoby BrissettRivers, Wentz W Matt Ryan – After Luke’s sudden retirement ahead of the coach’s second season in 2019.

His dismissal came a week after he was sidelined by Ryan in favor of the sophomore quarterback Sam Ellinger. The Colts ranked last in points per game (14.7) and sacks allowed (35), 27th in yards per game (315.1) and tied for last turnovers (17) in shooting time, which came after a 26-3 loss to the New England Patriots where The offense only had 121 yards.

Reich’s playing career was highlighted by leading the Bills back from a 32-point deficit to a 41-38 victory over the Houston Oilers in the 1992 wild card game. It marked the largest comeback in NFL history until last season, when he rebounded The Minnesota Vikings came from a 33-0 halftime deficit to beat the Colts 39-36 in Week 15.

Reich was 0-3 as Carolina’s starting quarterback before being replaced by first-round player Kerry Collins. He still owns a home in Charlotte, where one of his daughters recently started working for the Panthers in the marketing department.

Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, who helped Reich coach after working him as a player with the Panthers and Bills, said Reich would be a great fit in Carolina.

He’s a great guy, he’s a really good football coach. He’s a great motivator. He’s a guy who communicates very well with the players. He’s phenomenally organized. He has a great mind for football,” said Polian, the Panthers’ first general manager.

Former NFL coach and current NBC Sports NFL analyst Tony Dungy, who worked with Reich, called her a “sensible hire”.

He said: “David Tepper is really looking to draw on attacking experience. Frank’s got that. He’s developed some great offense and great quarterbacks.

“[Tepper] He seems to be looking for that offensive energy, and that’s what Frank has.”

Dungy described the decision not to hire Wilkes as disappointing, but he understood why.

“It’s disappointing because I thought Steve did a great job,” Dungey said. “But you have to understand the owners. He’s building a franchise. He’s building it on what he’s looking for.”

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