New Panthers coach Frank Reich gets to draft, develop franchise QB

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Frank Reich is not blameless in the chaos that consumed the 2022 Colts, but the quarterback situation he coached until his November firing didn’t help his cause.

Matt Ryan, acquired in March from the Falcons, was a rock in his own right at 37, prone to turnovers and looking his age. The former NFL MVP was just the latest in a long line of QB cures Reich had to work with. It started with great Andrew Luck in 2018, Reich’s first season as the Colts’ coach. But after Luck’s sudden retirement, it was Jacoby Brissett and Brian Hoyer in 2019, Philip Rivers in 2020, Carson Wentz in 2021 and Ryan and Sam Ehlinger this season.

Reich never had the same starting quarterback for a second season, with no chance to build on the previous year’s work at the most important position. It was a hell of a quarterback.

That’s why Reich’s new job could empower him.

He was announced Thursday as the new coach of the Panthers, who have the No. 9 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. There’s a good chance they’ll use that top pick on a quarterback.

Carolina has started three signal callers in each of the past two seasons, receiving inconsistent production (the Panthers ranked fifth-worst in pass DVOA last season). In 2022, it was Baker Mayfield (six games), Sam Darnold (six) and PJ Walker (five). Mayfield is no longer with the team, requested and was granted his release in December, while Darnold and Walker will be unrestricted and restricted free agents, respectively.

Panthers name Frank Reich as head coach

Panthers name Frank Reich as head coach

Colin Cowherd reacts to the news that Frank Reich, Carolina’s starting quarterback, will be the team’s next head coach.

In the top 10 of this year’s draft, and armed with two second-round picks, the Panthers are positioned to take the top-tier quarterback Reich can mold.

Remember, he’s never had a chance to do that as a head coach. Luck was already a superstar for his lone season in 2018. Of course, as a quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator, he worked with Peyton Manning (2012-13), Rivers (2013-15) and Carson Wentz (2016-2016). 17). But this opportunity with Carolina is different as the primary voice of the coach.

Considering the Colts’ revolving door at quarterback, Reich’s results were impressive. He had a record of 40-33-1 in four and a half seasons. In three of his four full seasons, he had a top-10 scoring offense (fifth in 2018; ninth in 2020 and 2021).

With 14 years of NFL coaching experience on the offensive side of the ball, Reich brings a much-needed voice to help a Panthers offense that struggled last season. Carolina ranked 20th in scoring, 27th in DVOA and 29th in yards allowed on offense. In addition to quarterback instability, the Panthers did not have a 1,000-yard receiver or a 1,000-yard rusher. Reich, 61, becomes the franchise’s first head coach with an offensive background.

Also of note, Reich, who played 13 seasons in the NFL, was Carolina’s first-ever starting quarterback in 1995.

And in 2022, the Panthers and Reich could finally find their franchise quarterback for the next decade.

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for for three seasons (2018-20) before moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.

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