Amid an 0-6 start to the season, Panthers head coach Frank Reich is making a change to the decision-making on offense.
Reich has informed his players he will hand over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport, Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo reported on Monday.
Reich confirmed the change during his Monday news conference.
“It’s always been part of the plan,” Reich said. “Something Thomas and I have discussed from the time that he was hired. I’m excited for this for Thomas. I’m excited for our team on offense. Thomas is a stud. He’s a great leader. He’s a brilliant offensive mind. We all have a lot of confidence in him.”
Brown joined Reich’s staff as the final coordinator hire in February and was considered to be a significant addition. He’s only 37 years old, but is highly regarded in NFL coaching circles as a bright offensive mind.
The change was Reich’s call, per Pelissero, and Reich confirmed to reporters that it was “100 percent my decision from start to finish.” The move comes at an ideal point as the Panthers enter their bye week, providing Brown with additional time to prepare for his debut with the play sheet in hand Week 8 against the Texans.
“I think the timing is right,” Reich said. “This has been something even from the beginning that I have talked through with Mr. (David) Tepper and (general manager) Scott (Fitterer) from the beginning of the season. Thought that this bye week was going to be a check point. Really been thinking hard about it the last couple of weeks. And kind of knew it was leaning this way. I’m excited to turn it over to Thomas, and know he’s going to do a great job for this team.”
Reich said on Monday that from the moment he hired Brown during the offseason he knew this was a likely scenario, but he wanted to get to know Brown first before proceeding with a play-calling change.
“I needed to get in-season and see it all play out,” said Reich, who added that play-calling will remain a collaborative process. “I’d like to think this is the best decision no matter what our record is.”
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Carolina entered Week 6 showing clear signs that a change might be ahead. The Panthers ranked 26th in average passing expected points added and 25th in average rushing EPA, per Next Gen Stats. Their per-game averages in passing and rushing yards weren’t much better, ranking 23rd and 22nd, respectively.
The Panthers showed signs of improvement early Sunday against the Dolphins, putting together two impressive touchdown drives in the first quarter, but that was it. Carolina returned to its lackluster form in the second quarter, failing to score another point offensively for the rest of the day in a 42-21 loss.
Sunday’s loss dropped the Panthers to 0-6, marking just the second time Carolina has started 0-6 in franchise history and the first time since 1998. Rookie quarterback Bryce Young became the seventh quarterback drafted first overall to start his career 0-5 since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, which isn’t necessarily a harbinger of a doomed future, considering he joined a group that included the likes of Troy Aikman, Jared Goff, Alex Smith, Eli Manning and Trevor Lawrence.
Situation matters for young quarterbacks, and this is no different for Young. In a results-driven league, though, change is often necessary when teams approach their lowest points. Reich is making one by giving up control of the offense with the hope it will spark a turnaround.
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