We're thirteen days into the Reich regime and I can't say it doesn't feel good to have competence at the head coaching position. Considering the circumstances in Indianapolis, it seemed that both parties needed a fresh start. Reich has plenty of in-state connections and has demonstrated a willingness to hire individuals that he doesn't have a history with. His main goal is "to create a championship caliber team and a championship caliber organization."
Let's explore the most recent hires beginning with the addition of defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero.
DC Ejiro Evero
One of the most coveted DC candidates across the league, Evero chose the Panthers over the Vikings, Broncos, and a flurry of other NFL teams. The Broncos' defense was a bright spot for the city of Denver, ending the 2022 season at 3rd in points allowed per game (18.1) and 5th in yards allowed per game (309.0). Interestingly enough, Evero commandeered a unit that was one of the best 3rd-down defenses in the NFL, an area that Wilks even struggled in, ranking #1 (#2 overall) in third down conversions at home (23.9%), and #2 in third down success rates (40.6%). Needless to say, he is a defensive genius.
In Carolina, Evero should have even more defensive weapons to utilize in the form of emerging superstar Brian Burns, Frankie Luvu, Derrick Brown, Jeremy Chinn, and lockdown corner Jaycee Horn, just to name a few. The Panthers' defense finished 2022 25th overall in DVOA. The former Broncos DC will look to bring a top 5 defense to the Carolina's, likely shifting to more of a 3-4 base defense.
Offensive Assistant Coach?
While his role and contract details have not been finalized, Duce Staley is widely expected to sign in Carolina to coach the offensive side of the ball. The former player (Philly, Pittsburgh) made stops in Philadelphia and Detroit before landing with the Panthers. The 2022 season saw him join Dan Campbell to coach the running backs and assume the assistant head coaching position.
Duce Staley had the opportunity to coach a Lions RB room that included D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, who broke several franchise records in the process. In 2022, Williams ran for 1066 yards and 17 touchdowns with a highlight efficient 4.1 YPC; another downhill runner in D'Onta Foreman could see similar success in a 17-game season.
LB Coach Pete Hansen
Once Sean Payton signed with Denver, Pete Hansen followed Evero to coach the linebackers in Carolina. Hansen is a strong candidate to take over after Evero inevitably leaves for a head coaching gig next offseason. From 2011-13, he was a defensive assistant in San Francisco, also making stops in Stanford (2014-19) and UNLV as a linebackers/defensive coordinator role (2020-21). Alex Singleton, a former Eagle, enjoyed a career year under Hansen's tutelage, recording 163 combined tackles, 6 TFLs, 3 PD, and 1 forced fumble.
Linebacker, specifically the inside linebacker position, should be an area that the Panthers seek to improve this offseason. Veteran Shaq Thompson is nearing 29 years old and occupies a hefty contract given by former GM Marty Hurney while rookie Brandon Smith didn't see much playing time despite an elite athletic profile. Perhaps a year under his belt should help him take another step forward next season. Linebacker hybrid Frankie Luvu was the brightest spot at the second level by far, recording 111 combined tackles, 19 TFLs, 7 sacks, 1 INT & TD, 4 PDs, and 1 FF. I anticipate Hansen should have fun with the linebacker room during his first season in Carolina.
I plan to update this page upon more news being released about the Panthers' 2023 coaching staff so stay tuned. Who is your favorite hire in this cycle so far? Leave your comments below.