Jan 26, 2023 - News

Carolina Panthers name Frank Reich head coach

Photo: Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Frank Reich will return to Charlotte as the Carolina Panthers head coach.

State of play: Reich, who was the franchise’s first starting quarterback in 1995, will become the sixth head coach in franchise history this season, the team announced on Thursday.

Why it matters: Owner David Tepper is still searching for his first winning season since purchasing the team in 2018. The team hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2017 season.

By the numbers: The Panthers are 29-53 since Tepper bought the team.

Context: Reich is the second head coach Tepper has hired. His first hire, Matt Rhule, was fired in October. Steve Wilks, a Charlotte native, was named interim head coach.

The intrigue: Fans and players advocated for Wilks to be named head coach. Linebacker Shaq Thompson was direct about it: “We want Wilks,” he told reporters earlier this month.

Yes, but: The Panthers have always had defensive-minded coaches. While the team has made two trips to the Super Bowl, they don’t have a ring to show for it. Reich brings an offensive background.

  • The 61-year-old won a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 as their offensive coordinator.
  • Then he spent five years coaching the Indianapolis Colts, with a record of 40-33-1.
Frank Reich at quarterback for the Panthers in 1995. Photo: George Rose/Getty Images
Frank Reich at quarterback for the Panthers in 1995. Photo: George Rose/Getty Images

What they’re saying: “We are shocked and disturbed that after the incredible job Coach Wilks did as the interim coach, including bringing the team back into Playoff contention and garnering the support of the players and fans, that he was passed over for the Head Coach position by David Tepper,” Wigdor LLP, the law firm representing Wilks and other coaches of color in their discrimination lawsuit against the NFL, tweeted. “There is a legitimate race problem in the NFL, and we can assure you that we will have more to say in the coming days.” 

Our newsroom’s thought bubble: 

Alex: My question is a yes or no, is Reich giving Super Bowl energy?

Katie: Just win. Charlotte’s so much fun when the Panthers are good.

Max: Take a deep breath Panthers fans. We can feel bad for Steve Wilks (who earned the right to be head coach) while also recognizing that Reich is a great hire for the team.

  • NFL rule changes over the years have created more advantages for offenses to succeed. Offensive head coaches like Andy Reid, Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay and Zac Taylor are leading their teams to more consistent success than their defensive counterparts.
  • There was no better time for the Panthers to hire the first offensive head coach in their franchise’s history than now. What’s next? Get the QB right!

Michael: Reich, in my mind, will always be a miracle maker. I was 13 in 1993, watching a little black-and-white television in my dad’s work shed back home in Maryland, when Reich led the greatest comeback in NFL playoff history, bringing the Bills back from a 32-point deficit to beat the Houston Oilers.

  • And I was almost 5 in 1984, when Reich carried the University of Maryland back from a 31-0 hole to beat Miami — a game my aunts and uncles still talk about at holiday gatherings.
  • I loved Wilks, but hiring Reich reminds me of that tender time when I was young and believed anything is possible.
  • Here’s hoping Reich brings that magic to Charlotte.

As for me, I hate this for Wilks, but now they need to go out and draft Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Charlotte.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Charlotte stories


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Charlotte.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more