INDIANAPOLIS – That didn’t take long.
Less than three months after being fired by the Indianapolis Colts, Frank Reich is back in the NFL. He’s been named head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
Reich, 61, returns to familiar territory. The long-time NFL backup quarterback threw the first pass in the history of the Panthers in the franchise’s inaugural 1995 season as their starter against Atlanta.
Owner Jim Irsay fired Reich following the Colts’ 26-3 loss at New England Nov. 6. That dropped them to 3-5-1.
“I told Frank that expectations are high,’’ Irsay said of changing coaches. “He was a winning head coach. If anyone wants to kind of diminish anything that coach did, you’d be wrong.’’
In his five seasons as Indy’s head coach, Reich posted a 41-35-1 overall record with two playoff appearances and one postseason win. His tenure with the Colts was marred by major instability at quarterback.
The team never was able to recover from Andrew Luck’s retirement prior to the 2019 season, and Reich would deal with a different starting quarterback in the five season openers, and eight overall.
After being fired by the Colts, Reich insisted “there’s disappointment and hurt. We had high expectations, and I don’t apologize or not ashamed of the high expectations that we had because I really do believe the makings of a championship team are there.
“It hurts to have it happen in the middle of the season.’’
Reich also stressed his desire to find another head coaching job.
“I don’t presume anything,’’ he said. “I have a lot of confidence and belief in who I am as a coach.
“I think you keep all of your options open. Obviously, my desire is to be a head coach. Love the game.’’
Reich and wife Linda returned to their home in North Carolina, and waited for those opportunities to unfold.
He interviewed with Carolina and Arizona, and the Panthers moved quickly.
It will be interesting to see if Reich attempts to bring some of his assistant coaches with the Colts with him to Carolina.
The Colts likely will have massive staff changes when they hire their coach to replace Reich.
Reich will have a chance to defeat his former team when the Colts visit Carolina next season.
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