NFL: Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears

Following their 17-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 12, the Carolina Panthers fired head coach Frank Reich. The former Panthers quarterback was hired by Carolina in January to rebuild this franchise after the disappointing Matt Rhule era, but more disappointment followed. 

The Panthers are the worst team in the NFL at 1-10, and don't even own their first-round pick. Last offseason, Carolina leveraged the future for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and selected quarterback Bryce Young. The Alabama product has struggled, while No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud has flourished with the Houston Texans. Reich and his staff were unable to help their rookie quarterback, and couldn't decide on a play-caller as Reich started the season calling plays, then handed off duties to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, before Reich took back responsibilities just weeks later. The Panthers offense is averaging 15.7 points per game (No. 29 in the NFL), 4.1 yards per play (tied for last) and converting 37.2% of third downs (No. 20). 

Reich's 11 games with Carolina is the shortest tenure for an NFL head coach in the last 45 years, according to Sports Illustrated, since the 49ers fired Pete McCulley after nine games in 1978. On Monday, just hours after being relieved of his duties, Reich spoke with Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer, through whom he relayed his disappointment to the fan base.

"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. "It hurts me for the guys, the team, the coaches and the fans."

Reich has now been fired in the middle of the NFL season two years in a row, as the Indianapolis Colts parted ways with Reich last November after just over four seasons. The soon-to-be 62-year-old told The Charlotte Observer that he's not ready to say he's done with coaching altogether, but did say, "This is probably the final chapter of my NFL journey."

"It was a great opportunity," Reich said. "The way the doors opened up for it was amazing. But there's not always a storybook ending.... I also take comfort and find peace and strength that there is a next chapter of my life. I do believe that. I do believe God ordains our steps."

Reich said he will always be a Panthers fan, and that he still has faith the foundation for future success in Carolina is there. 

"I want to say that I believe there is a strength and character of leadership in that locker room that is at such a high level and is so strong," Reich said, "that there's no doubt in my mind that there is a foundation for all the success that this team is going to have."