The chips are down on Carolina and Chip is out.
Matt Rhule has struggled to put together a winning team with the Panthers, and his midseason firing of standout offensive coordinator Joe Brady was a surprising gamble that didn’t 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 “the sensors in Chip Kelly’s way,” but it’s unclear whether or not Kelly was officially interviewed for the job.
Matt Rhule seeks experience in the #panthers‘ next offensive coordinator. Sources say Rhule also sent out some probes to Chip Kelly (I’m not sure if he was officially interviewed) before Kelly came back up 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, since they are kept secret so as not to spoil the draft.
The Panthers’ search didn’t start (or end) with Kelly. Joe Person of The Athletic reports that at least five others have interviewed for the open OC job: former Washington head coach Jay Gruden, former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo, the Vikings’ OC, Klint Kubiak, Colts wide receivers coach Mike Groh and Colts running backs coach Scottie Montgomery.
Packers passing game coordinator Luke Getsy and Texans OC Tim Kelly were also interviewed. Pep Hamilton, a longtime NFL assistant coach currently with the Houston Texans, turned down the opportunity to interview him.
Candidates known to have interviewed for the Panthers OC job:
— Joe Person (@josephperson) January 18, 2022
All things considered, three brand-new head coaches among the seven interviewed candidates aren’t exactly directing where football is headed.
Whoever takes the job will be tasked with making the most of either Sam Darnold (a task both Brady and Jeff Nixon failed) or a new quarterback picked by Carolina in 2022. Darnold’s $18 million fifth-year option will be picked up earlier until the start of the 2021 season, nearly guaranteeing him a final year in Panthers colors.
Candidates also have to weigh the job security of the man they’ll be working with: Rumors about Rhule’s status swirled in the middle of 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 on sight.