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Panthers fire Frank Reich after 1-10 start to first season in Carolina

Frank Reich's tenure in Carolina lasted just 11 games.

The Panthers fired the head coach on Monday after a 1-10 start to the 2023 season, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported, per sources informed of the situation. 

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor takes over as the interim head coach, per Rapoport.

The club later confirmed the move, announcing senior assistant Jim Caldwell will be a special advisor to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, who will resume play-calling.

"I met with Coach Reich this morning and informed him that he will not continue as head coach of the Carolina Panthers," owner David Tepper said in a statement on Monday. "I want to thank Frank for his dedication and service, and we wish him well. Effective immediately, Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor will serve as our interim head coach. Senior Assistant Jim Caldwell will be a special advisor to Offensive Coordinator Thomas Brown, who will take over play calling duties."

Pelissero later reported that the Panthers also fired quarterbacks coach Josh McCown and assistant head coach/RBs Duce Staley. The decision to move on from McCown and Staley was made by Tabor and Caldwell, per Pelissero.

"There's a heart-pounding disappointment in not hitting the marks that we needed to hit to keep this going and try to get it turned around," Reich said in an interview with The Charlotte Observer on Monday. "It hurts me for the guys, the team, the coaches and the fans."

It's been a rough first season for Reich in Carolina as the Panthers showed little signs of growth. Things boiled over after several in-game mismanagement issues in Sunday's 17-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

The issues were enough for Tepper to move on from Reich after just 11 games.

"I want to convey that I have nothing but positive thoughts about Mr. Tepper," Reich told The Observe. "On a personal level, I saw a side of him that I deeply respect and care about. But the NFL is a meritocracy. It's not unconditional love. I understand from a professional standpoint Mr. Tepper is going to have certain standards that he expects to have met. I have no hard feelings, and my personal relationship with him was actually a real highlight of this short time."

Reich added that this will probably mark 'the final chapter" of his time in the NFL.

Reich's offense has been a slog, bogged down by poor blocking, a non-existent run game, and a receiver crew lacking in playmakers. Worst of all were the struggles of No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young. The quarterback has displayed poor habits amid the losing and rarely has flashed playmaking ability. The coach handing off play-calling to Brown and then taking them back didn't help the inconsistent offense.

The Panthers have a bottom-four scoring (15.7; 29th) and total offense (265.9; 30th) in 2023. Under Reich, the club averaged 92.6 rushing YPG (29th) and has three rushing touchdowns (T-fewest).

Carolina sits with a -119 point margin in 2023, 31st in the NFL, and has scored 15 or fewer points in seven games (T-second-most in NFL).

Given the investment the Panthers made in Young, including giving up a 2024 first-round pick, which currently sits No. 1 overall, seeing progress from the young signal-caller is paramount in the final six games. Ownership clearly didn't believe the development would come with Reich running things. Now it's on Brown and Caldwell to change the narrative down the stretch.

Reich, who the Indianapolis Colts dismissed after Week 9, 2022, became the third head coach in NFL history to be fired in back-to-back seasons -- Chip Kelly (Eagles and 49ers) and Ray Rhodes (Eagles and Packers).

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