Frank Reich has now made history three times in the Carolinas.
In 1995 he became the franchise’s first ever starting quarterback. When he returned in 2022 he became the league’s first starting franchise quarterback to return to his former team as a head coach. And now after his firing he becomes the first head coach to be let go mid-season in back to back years.
Reich’s return to Carolina was met with optimism. He was an offensive minded coach, with ties to the region who put together a coaching staff with the right balance of coaching experience, playing experience and youthful upside. Couple that with the selection of quarterback Bryce Young with the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft and the Panthers were expected to compete for an NFC South Title.
Week after week those hopes regressed, along with the Panthers’ offense – led by Reich.
The offensive line that was supposed to be a strength became a liability. Bryce Young, who out of all the quarterbacks drafted in 2023 was supposed to have the easiest integration into the league, has struggled under constant pressure and limited weapons. Play calling duties were given and taken away. There was no clear identity and no signs of improvement. Opposing owners danced in away locker rooms and held hall of honor press conferences on Carolina turf. In just 12 weeks the Panthers went from being one of the teams with the most potential to a laughing stock.
After the 17-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans, owner David Tepper had enough. He decided to part ways with his 2nd coach in as many years. Whether or not Frank Reich should’ve been able to finish the season is debatable, but what is not is that he wasn’t the man for the job.
I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about Coach Reich. During my interactions with him he has always been sincere and honest. There’s no question he’s a nice guy and someone who is still well respected in NFL circles. And despite his unceremonious departure, unlike his predecessor, fans genuinely wish him well. But ultimately, Reich’s time as head coach of the Carolina Panthers will be remembered as a total failure and one of the lowest points in franchise history.