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NFLPA survey a reminder of how badly Panthers botched their last coaching search



NFL players spoke. Maybe this time the Panthers will listen.


On Thursday, the NFL Players Association unveiled a list of the league’s top five defensive, offensive, and special teams coordinators, as voted by NFL players.


Interestingly, Panthers offensive coordinator Thomas Brown and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor ranked second in their respective fields, while their 2022 interim head coach Steve Wilks ranked second among defensive coordinators.



Last season, Wilks took over for Matt Rhule after a 1-4 start and led Carolina to a 6-6 record, one game back of Tampa Bay for the division crown, including a 6-5 record after the team traded away running back Christian McCaffrey.


Wilks did more than enough to have the interim tag removed from his title, but owner David Tepper had other ideas, hiring Frank Reich in an ill-fated marriage that only lasted 11 games. In releasing its lists of top coordinators,

the NFLPA wrote that it was “only publishing the Top 5 coordinators in each category to highlight and focus on the positive impact coaches can have on players across the league.

We also want to ensure that players’ opinions are heard and accounted for by clubs ahead of the next hiring cycle.”


Based on the rankings, Panthers players aren’t demanding wholesale changes this offseason. Unfortunately, Tepper might repeat last year’s mistake.



Tabor was named interim head coach in Week 13. While he led Carolina to an inspired win against the Falcons, its ugly 26-0 loss to the Jaguars in Week 17 probably didn’t help his case in Tepper’s eyes.


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The Athletic’s Dianna Russini reported in early December, “The expectation in the Panthers building is Tepper will try to lure Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson to Carolina after trying to hire him last season.”


If Tepper gets his wish, it would be unsurprising for Johnson to bring in his own staff, threatening both Brown’s and Tabor’s jobs.

That means that Tepper could potentially allow three of the league’s most highly-regarded coaches on defense, offense, and special teams to leave the organization in two offseasons.


The NFLPA’s coordinator survey suggests coaching isn’t the problem in Carolina. The Panthers’ issues start at the top.


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