By now, you are well aware that the Carolina Panthers fired their head coach, Frank Reich, after just eleven games. It’s been a rough year so far, sitting at the bottom of the NFC South at 1-10. However, there are three potential new coaches who might be able to completely turn the Panthers around.

To set the stage here, let’s get right to the point. These are three outside-the-box and unconventional choices. Meaning, I have gotten away from the standard process of backfilling an NFL coaching vacancy with simply another NFL coach.

With all due respect to interim head coach Chris Tabor, let’s assume “interim” will be taken seriously. Tabor was previously the team’s special teams coordinator. So, here, we are thinking outside of the organization to fill Reich’s seat.

But Why?

There are three reasons I am considering a “curveball” method. To start, owner David Tepper is a unique personality. Tepper has been known to make quick and instinctive decisions. Furthermore, he is heavily involved (and invested) in the team’s success. Reich apparently had to meet with Tepper after each game to review what had transpired. The second reason for my choices here is simply because I believe these NFL minds would actually be great at this gig. Now, I have zero NFL experience. However, I did play football for ten years, and I have actually interacted with two of the three options listed.

Lastly, we’ve seen a few out-of-the-ordinary NFL coaching choices in the past few seasons. Though he did not get the job, the Indianapolis Colts hired their previous Pro Bowl Center, Jeff Saturday, to be their interim coach last season. Saturday had never been an NFL coach previously.

So, yes, it would be simple for me to suggest common (and very worthy) names like Ben Johnson, the Offensive Coordinator for the Detroit Lions, or Steve Wilks, current Defensive Coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers (with a Panthers history). Nonetheless, let’s follow Tepper’s path of taking a calculated risk. Here are three creative options for the Carolina Panthers to consider hiring as their next head coach.

  • Greg Olsen

    The current lead color analyst for NFL games on Fox, Olsen has reportedly expressed interest. Olsen was a fan-favorite during his nine season with the Panthers. He was also a team captain and Pro Bowler. I played against Olsen in high school (his team always crushed us). Our two schools would go to camp together for a week just prior to the pre-season starting. I witnessed first-hand how hard he works and how much football IQ he applies to literally every single play. I was also amazed at how much one player can lead a team at such a young age. In addition, Olsen’s father was the head coach of his high school team for many years. He saw great success, bringing multiple championships to Wayne Hills. Greg Olsen knows football. It goes without saying. It is in his blood. In addition, Olsen would be a players-coach who immediately has the respect of the locker room.


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  • Dan Orlovsky

    One of ESPN’s best football minds actually came close to joining the Panthers last season. Orlovsky played in the NFL for 12 years before joining ESPN. Currently, he details each NFL offense on numerous shows using touch-screen technology. Orlovsky knows how to read defenses and structure plays better than anyone I’ve ever seen explain it. In an interview I conducted with Orlovsky last year, he explained to me how he watches every single play of every single game each week, further emphasizing his passion for the game and it’s evolution. This past week, Orlovsky has laid out ideas on what needs to happen next for the Panthers’ number one pick and face of the franchise, quarterback Bryce Young.


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  • Steve Sarkisian

    Prior to winning a Heisman Trophy and carrying Alabama for multiple seasons, Bryce Young had actually committed to playing for USC. Sarkisian, then the offensive coordinator at Alabama helped Young change his mind and he then flipped to Alabama. Sarkisian recently described Young as “Steph Curry on grass.” Hiring a head coach who knows how to properly develop Young is essential. These two already seem to have a great relationship. In addition, although it did not work out, Tepper has hired big name coaches out of college football in the past. Sarkisian is the current coach of Texas, who is still in the hunt for the NCAA playoffs. Perhaps when that run is over, he may want to link up with the quarterback he has known since high school.


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