After firing Frank Reich last week, the Carolina Panthers coaching search is unofficially underway once again. According to various reports across the league, owner David Tepper is looking for a specific type of coach, and even has his eyes focused on one candidate. However, Carolina might not be able to get their guy, as Tepper’s tumultuous ownership tenure is reportedly scaring off said candidate.
With Reich gone, the Panthers turned the keys over to former special teams coordinator Chris Tabor. So far, Tabor is 0-1 during his tenure as head coach, but the Panthers showed plenty of fight and resiliency in their narrow 21-18 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even if Tabor is a temporary upgrade on Reich, it’s hard to imagine a world where he is the winner of the Panthers head coaching search. A big reason for this is that Tepper reportedly wants an offensive-minded coach, and Tabor’s background is in special teams.
— Sheena Quick (@Sheena_Marie3) January 31, 2023
Report: Panthers Coaching Search Getting Off On Wrong Foot
Panthers Want “Offensive-Minded Coach”
Quite frankly, it’s not too surprising to see that the Panthers coaching search will primarily focus on the offensive side of the ball. It’s no secret that the NFL is a passing league and Tepper is correct about rule changes disproportionately favoring the offensive side of the ball. In the name of due diligence, Tepper will likely interview one or two defensive coaches, and one of them could earn the job if they impress at the interview, but with all else being equal, an offensive-minded coach will get the job.
Even looking beyond the rule changes, there are a lot of reasons to go with an offensive coach. For better or worse, this franchise is tied to Bryce Young for the next few years. With no first-round pick in 2024 and no second-round pick in 2025, Carolina’s next head coach will be responsible for maximizing the existing talent on the roster. Young has not had the best rookie campaign, but it’s hard to blame him when the offensive line is terrible and the only somewhat dangerous receiver on the roster is Adam Thielen.
In 2016, former first-overall pick Jared Goff made seven starts for Jeff Fischer’s Rams. While under center, the rookie completed 54.6% of his passes for 1,089 yards (5.3 Y/A), five touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He was terrible by just about every metric, but his fate changed when the Rams brought in Sean McVay. Hopefully, Carolina’s next coach can do the same thing, and if Tepper gets his way, that somebody will be Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. Unfortunately, Tepper might not get who he wants in the Panthers coaching search.
Organizational Failure: Working In Carolina Is “Difficult”
Ben Johnson is one of the hottest names out there, and the Lions offensive coordinator will likely have multiple head coaching offers to choose from. Unfortunately, this means the Panthers are going to have to look like the most attractive option, and they’re not off to a great start on that front. According to Dianna Russini of The Athletic, several members of the Panthers organization are warning Johnson that working with in Carolina is “difficult”.
Panthers Owner David Tepper wants to try and lure OC Ben Johnson away from the Lions, per @DMRussini
However – several members of the Panthers organization have been texting Johnson about how difficult it is to work in Carolina.
The situation in Carolina is MESSY. 😳 pic.twitter.com/rlSFB7c159
— SleeperNFL (@SleeperNFL) December 2, 2023
Obviously, this is not a good thing. The Panthers are the biggest laughingstock in the NFL right now, and apparently, multiple players and/or coaches are sending warnings to Johnson. Considering 7-10 coaches are likely to be fired, Johnson will probably have a better option than Carolina. The only way to get Johnson is to massively overpay for his services. Would a six-year contract with full control of the roster be enough to convince Johnson to join Carolina? Maybe not, but Tepper will probably have to make an offer like that if he wants to get his guy in the Panthers coaching search.
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