The chips are down in Carolina, and Chip is out.
Matt Rhule has struggled to put together a winning staff with the Panthers, and his mid-season firing of hotshot offensive coordinator Joe Brady was an eyebrow-raising gamble that didn’t quite pay off.
Now, the search for a new OC is underway, with an intriguing name in the mix: UCLA head coach Chip Kelly. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Rhule put out “feelers Chip Kelly’s way,” but it’s unclear to whether or not Kelly officially interviewed for the position.
Matt Rhule looking for experience in the #Panthers’ next offensive coordinator. Sources say Rhule also sent some feelers Chip Kelly’s way (not sure if he officially interviewed) before Kelly re-upped to stay at UCLA. https://t.co/AybpQj4wL3
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 18, 2022
It can be difficult to determine if and when college coaches interview for NFL jobs, given that they’re kept under tight wraps so as to not mess up recruiting.
The Panthers’ search didn’t begin (or end) with Kelly. The Athletic’s Joe Person reports at least five others have interviewed for the open OC job: Former Washington head coach Jay Gruden, former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo, Vikings OC Klint Kubiak, Colts wide receivers coach Mike Groh and Colts running backs coach Scottie Montgomery.
Luke Getsy, Packers passing game coordinator, and Texans OC Tim Kelly have also interviewed. Pep Hamilton, longtime NFL assistant coach currently with the Houston Texans, turned down an opportunity to interview.
Candidates known to have interviewed for Panthers’ OC job:
— Joe Person (@josephperson) January 18, 2022
All things considered, three flame-out head coaches among seven candidates interviewed isn’t exactly coaching to where football is going.
Whoever takes the job will be charged with the task of getting the most out of Sam Darnold (a task Brady and Jeff Nixon both failed) or a new QB of Carolina’s choosing in 2022. Darnold’s $18 million, fifth-year option was picked up prior to the start of the 2021 season, all but guaranteeing him one final year in Panthers colors.
Candidates also have to weigh the job security of the man they’ll be working under: Rumors about Rhule’s status swirled amidst the 5-12 season, a sure disappointment for the second-year head coach.
The Panthers finished 29th in points scored and 30th in yards. The next offensive coordinator will have to make the O less offensive to the eyes.