The Mercury News Weekend

Panthers go with Reich as their new head coach


Frank Reich is returning to the Carolina Panthers as their coach, more than 27 years after starting the franchise's first game at quarterbac­k in 1995.

The Panthers announced Thursday they've agreed to terms with Reich to become the sixth head coach in franchise history. An introducto­ry news conference was set for Tuesday.

Reich was chosen among nine candidates who interviewe­d for the job, including former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and this season's interim head coach, Steve Wilks.

Reich received a four-year deal from the Panthers, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team does not release details of coaching hires.

The 61-year-old Reich joins the Panthers after spending the past four-plus seasons with the Indianapol­is Colts, where he went 40-33-1 as head coach before being fired on Nov. 7 after a 3-5-1 start. The Colts went to the playoffs twice as a wild-card team under Reich, going 1-2 in the postseason.

Before joining the Colts, Reich worked two years as the offensive coordinato­r for the Philadelph­ia Eagles, helping them win the Super Bowl in his second season under head coach Doug Pederson.

Quinn returning to lead defense as Cowboys shuffle coaches

A shuffling of the coaching staff for the Dallas Cowboys won't include defensive coordinato­r Dan Quinn, who is returning after another year of receiving interest from teams seeking head coaches.

Coach Mike McCarthy said the club's decision not to renew the contracts of six members of his staff, including one with deep ties to him in Green Bay, hasn't affected his relationsh­ip with owner/general manager Jerry Jones or the rest of the Dallas front office.

The Cowboys, who finished 13-6, reached the playoffs for a second consecutiv­e season and won a road game in the postseason for the first time in 30 years.

Still, Dallas' divisional-round losing streak reached seven games, the longest since the 1970 merger, with a 19-12 loss at San Francisco. The Cowboys haven't advanced to an NFC championsh­ip game since the last of the franchise's five Super Bowl titles to cap the 1995 season.

“As far as my relationsh­ip with Jerry, just using his words, we're in an excellent spot,” McCarthy said Thursday, a few hours after the club's announceme­nt on the coaches who aren't returning.

“The partnershi­p that we have, he's excited about. He told me a number of times this week that he wants me to coach here as long as coach (Tom) Landry did. And I said, `OK, that's a long time.'”

Jones' first act as owner in 1989 was firing Landry, coach of the Cowboys for the franchise's first 29 seasons. There's been chatter about McCarthy's job security since a losing debut in the pandemic-altered 2020 season.

Jones said the loss to the 49ers didn't change his outlook with McCarthy, who has always shrugged off talk to the contrary.

“I get to talk to Jerry a lot,” McCarthy said. “So I've never, I've never felt that. The narrative was externally generated.”

Pats, Jets name new offensive coordinato­rs

Bill O'Brien is back with the Patriots. The team announced Thursday that O'Brien was hired as its offensive coordinato­r and quarterbac­ks coach.

The move comes 12 days after the Patriots said they were searching for a new leader of their offense following a disappoint­ing season that saw second-year quarterbac­k Mac Jones struggle under an offense largely directed by play caller Matt Patricia and quarterbac­ks coach Joe Judge.

Meanwhile, the New York Jets hired former Denver Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett as their offensive coordinato­r.

The 43-year-old Hackett replaces Mike LaFleur and fuels some speculatio­n about whether the Jets could pursue Green Bay quarterbac­k Aaron Rodgers, whose playing future is uncertain.

Injured Bengals linemen Cappa, Williams miss practice again

Alex Cappa and Jonah Williams didn't practice Thursday, making it more likely the Bengals will again start three backup offensive linemen in Sunday's AFC championsh­ip game against the Chiefs.

Right guard Cappa (ankle) and left tackle Williams (dislocated kneecap) haven't practiced at all this week.

Max Scharping, a free agent signed before the season, started his second game at right guard in Cincinnati's 27-10 win over Buffalo in the divisional round last week, and Jackson Carman, a converted guard, played in place of Williams.

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