Panthers fire Frank Reich after 11 games, shortest tenure as head coach since 1978

The Carolina Panthers have fired Frank Reich after 11 games, owner David Tepper announced Monday morning.

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will serve as interim coach.

The move comes two weeks after Reich took over play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, three games after handing over the responsibility to Brown in Week 8. Carolina fell to 1-10 on Sunday in a 17-game loss. -10 against the Tennessee Titans.

Brown will resume offensive snaps with senior assistant Jim Caldwell serving as special advisor, Tepper said.

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At 11 games, Reich’s tenure is the second-shortest in NFL history for a head coach who coached a regular-season game. The San Francisco 49ers fired Pete McCulley after a 1-8 start to the 1978 season.

(Two head coaches did not make the regular season; Bill Belichick resigned as coach of the New York Jets after one day in 2000, while George Allen was fired by the Los Angeles Rams after two preseason games in 1977.)

The Panthers signed Reich in January and traded for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft in March, selecting Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young. However, under Reich, Young posted a passer rating of 74.9, the worst of the three quarterbacks selected in the first round. The Panthers also rank 30th in the NFL with 265.9 yards per game on offense.

Reich replaced interim coach Steve Wilks, who was promoted after Carolina fired Matt Rhule following a 1-4 start to the 2022 season. The Panthers have the worst record in the NFL after going 7-10 in 2022.

Carolina traded its 2024 first-round pick to the Chicago Bears in the trade that gave Young.

Reich previously went 40-33-1 in four-plus seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, making the playoffs twice and winning one postseason game. He was fired after a 3-5-1 start to the 2022 season.

The Panthers are the second team to make a coaching change this season, joining the Raiders, who fired Josh McDaniels after eight games.

What was the fall of the Reich?

Tepper was convinced of Reich’s offensive credentials and his ability to bring in a big-name staff that included former coaches (Caldwell, Dom Capers) and several up-and-comers. The idea was that Young would have a building full of QB whisperers. Except it wasn’t necessary.

The Panthers have been near the bottom of the league offensively, Young has struggled and the offense didn’t improve after Reich took over Brown’s snaps. Reich seemed defeated after Sunday’s loss at Tennessee, where Tepper dropped an F-bomb and shook his head after leaving the locker room. —Joe Person, Panthers beat writer

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Who will Tepper target?

Monday’s announcement did not address the future of general manager Scott Fitterer, who is believed to be on shaky ground after failing to provide Young with enough playmakers. Tepper is expected to once again pursue an offensive-minded coach.

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was their first choice last winter before Johnson withdrew from consideration. Tepper will almost certainly make another run for Johnson, and don’t be surprised if he tries to make a splash with someone like Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh or New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

But Tepper’s history of firing coaches and being hands-on might give proven coaches pause. -Person

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(Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)