Despite the success of interim head coach Steve Wilks, the Carolina Panthers have decided to make Frank Reich the leader of the organization moving forward. This decision has upset a portion of the fanbase, as some believed Wilks’ 6-6 finish with a subpar Panthers roster should have earned him the right to be the 2023 head coach. While Wilks deserves all the credit in the world for turning around the 2022 Panthers, the fact of the matter is Frank Reich is a proven winner and a better fit for what this team needs.
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Why Frank Reich, Not Steve Wilks, Is Right As Carolina Panthers Head Coach
Proven Track Record
It goes without saying that the most important thing a head coach can do is win football games, and Reich has proven that he can do that over an extended period of time. Reich took over as the head coach in Indianapolis back in 2018 and guided the team to a winning record in three of his first four seasons. He did this despite having no continuity at quarterback. While he had a great quarterback in Andrew Luck for 2018, he had to make do with Jacoby Brissett in 2019, an aging Philip Rivers in 2020, and Carson Wentz in 2021.
Frank Reich could be the best hire of the this coaching cycle. He outperformed until things fell apart this season, and did so with a rotating cast of players at the game's most important position pic.twitter.com/G7wjNhgYJ7
— Kevin Cole (@KevinCole___) January 18, 2023
The fact that he made these teams competitive with such subpar quarterback play and one of the lowest payrolls in the league speaks wonders for his ability as a head coach. Yes, the wheels fell off in 2022, but it’s not his fault that Matt Ryan simply didn’t have it anymore. In fact, the Colts were a notably worse team once Reich departed, which only helps to illustrate that he was not the problem in Indianapolis.
Wilks, meanwhile, only has one year of head coaching experience, and it didn’t go well. The first-year head coach led the 2018 Arizona Cardinals to a 3-13 record and the first-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Now, to be fair, that roster had no talent, and Andy Reid would have had a hard time pulling out a .500 record. However, Wilks didn’t bring out the best in either the offense or the defense, and head coaches generally don’t improve in their second tenure.
Offense Wins Championships
The old saying goes that defense wins championships, but that saying came around when players could actually play defense. Decades upon decades worth of rule changes have made life considerably easier for NFL offenses, and in today’s NFL, if you want to win, you need to have a good offense and a good passing attack.
The best way to do that is by finding a franchise quarterback. Now, elite quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and prime Tom Brady would find a way to thrive in any environment. However, the vast majority of quarterbacks need a good situation and continuity to get used to life in the NFL.
Because Frank Reich is an offensive-minded head coach, he has a natural advantage over the defensive-oriented Steve Wilks. The Colts never invested significant draft capital in a quarterback with Reich as head coach, but he did help develop Carson Wentz during his time with the Eagles. That might sound like an insult, but when Reich left Philadelphia, Wentz was widely seen as one of the best up-and-coming passers in the league. Additionally, while Wentz clearly wasn’t the answer in Indianapolis, it’s worth noting that his 2021 season under Reich was likely the best year he’s had since his MVP-caliber 2017, which also came under Reich.
Additionally, having Reich means that the next quarterback will never need to worry about learning a new scheme every few years. Had Wilks gotten the job, he could have theoretically hired a great offensive coordinator that would help develop Carolina’s next quarterback. However, even if that happened, that coordinator would earn a head coaching job before long, forcing Wilks to hire a new coordinator and begin the process all over again. If you don’t think that sort of thing matters, just ask Mac Jones how much he misses Josh McDaniels after a year of Matt Patricia.
Ultimately, Steve Wilks would have been a good hire had the Panthers decided to go down that road. However, Frank Reich is just a better choice, both as a proven head coach that knows how to win, and as someone that gives the Panthers a higher chance of finding their next quarterback.
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