The Frank Reich era in Carolina is over. The Panthers have fired the head coach less than a full season into his tenure, the team announced Monday. Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor is now slated as the interim head coach and is addressing the team on Monday morning. Meanwhile, Jim Caldwell, who had been working as a senior assistant, moves into a special advisor role and will work with the offense run by coordinator Thomas Brown. Carolina ensured Brown, who was given offensive play-calling duties by Reich only to have them stripped away weeks later, has full offensive control Monday. They also fired associate head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley as well as quarterbacks coach Josh McCown, according to CBS Sports Lead NFL Insider Jonathan Jones.
"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 released Monday morning. "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."
The firing comes in the aftermath of Carolina falling to Tennessee on Sunday 17-10. That loss dropped the franchise to a league-worst 1-10 record on the season. Throughout the year, the Panthers have been among the worst in the NFL in essentially every statistical category, particularly on offense. They are averaging 15.7 points per game (29th), 4.1 yards per play (tied for last), and are converting 37.2% of their third down opportunities (20th).
Possibly what has hurt Reich -- a former quarterback in the NFL and an offensive coordinator -- the most has been the lack of development with No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young, who has struggled throughout the year. In 11 games, Young has completed 62.1% of his passes, averaged 187 passing yards per game, has a 74.7 passer rating, and has thrown nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Reich was officially hired by the Panthers on January 26 of this year after being fired by the Colts midway through the 2022 campaign. His 11-game run with Carolina is the shortest tenure for an NFL head coach in the last 45 years, per Sports Illustrated. The last time a team fired a first-year coach this quickly was Pete McCulley, who lasted just nine games for the 49ers in 1978.
This is the second time in as many seasons that the Panthers have fired a head coach in-season. Last year, the team let go of Matt Rhule after a 1-4 start. Now, it's Reich who has been shown the door and will not see Week 18 with Carolina. Under Tepper, who purchased the Panthers in May of 2018, there have been six head coaches: Ron Rivera, Perry Fewell (interim, 2019), Matt Rhule, Steve Wilks (interim, 2022), Frank Reich, and Chris Tabor (interim, 2023). Soon enough, there will be a seventh. Under the new NFL rules, the Panthers cannot conduct an in-person interview with a head coaching candidate currently employed by another team until after the divisional round of the playoffs (week of Jan. 22).
Reich is the second head coach to be fired this season after the Raiders relieved Josh McDaniels of his duties on Oct. 31.