It was anticipated and even expected that the Carolina Panthers would head into the 2023 offseason looking for a new coach. Previous head man Matt Rhule was on the hot seat, and needed to get off to a good start in order to secure his job.
That did not happen, and the franchise decide to fire him early in the season. As it turned out, Carolina started to play better after Rhule was let go, but still were not competitive enough to reach the postseason.
Here are three candidates that the Panthers should take a long look at during this coaching cycle.
Due to the legal action he took against the NFL last offseason, there is a chance that senior Pittsburgh Steelers defensive assistant Brian Flores will have significant difficulty obtaining another head coaching position in the league. The awkwardness of the situation would understandably leave teams conflicted about whether it would be smart to hire him to the position, but there are few people in the NFL more qualified to lead a team right now.
Even though his tenure with the Miami Dolphins ended on a contentious note, Flores did a great job navigating the difficult circumstances of the situation. He kept the team motivated and playing hard during a time when it seemed like they were more interested in building for the future. He also put his imprint on a defense that has continued to add star talent to a foundation that was developed by Flores.
There are a lot of questions in Carolina surrounding who will take over under center, but the Panthers’ defense has some solid building blocks with which to work. Flores’ guidance could help take them to another level.
If Carolina decides to go against hiring a veteran defensive minded head coach, they might opt to bring in a younger mind to keep building that side of the football team. Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has received a lot of attention for the work he’s done, and has positioned himself nicely to be able to secure a head coaching position in the near future.
One potential issue with Gannon’s candidacy is the success of the Eagles. The Panthers will not be able to officially hire Gannon until the Eagles are eliminated from the postseason. Considering that they are the number one seed in the NFC, it may be another month or so before Philadelphia’s season comes to an end.
Carolina’s coaching search may lead them to consider another assistant coach in the NFC East. Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has been well regarded for his acumen for a little while, and has been talked about as a future NFL head coach.
It’s no secret that the Panthers will be aggressive in free agency or the draft in order to find a viable option at quarterback, and having an experienced NFL play-caller in-house when that acquisition happens can’t hurt. The Panthers will also need to wait until the Cowboys’ season completes in order to officially hire Moore.