Frank Reich talks Panthers firing, says 'probably the final chapter' in NFL career

Reich lasted just 11 games with Carolina

Not long ago, Frank Reich looked like a good NFL head coach. Now he might be finished in the NFL.

Reich was fired by the Carolina Panthers on Monday after a 1-10 start. He has now been fired during each of the past two seasons, a rare and unwelcome accomplishment. He was fired by the Indianapolis Colts during last season.

Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer got the first interview with Reich after he was fired, and Reich wouldn't tell Fowler he was done with coaching. However, he did say, “This is probably the final chapter of my NFL journey.”

Reich, however, didn't blame Panthers owner David Tepper for what went wrong during this horrible season.

Frank Reich said his NFL coaching career is likely over after he was fired by the Panthers. (AP Photo/Erik Verduzco)
Frank Reich said his NFL coaching career is likely over after he was fired by the Panthers. (AP Photo/Erik Verduzco)

Frank Reich doesn't blame David Tepper

Reich had comments about Tepper earlier this season that seemed critical. He said he had some uncomfortable and heated conversations with Tepper about the team.

On Monday, he had nothing but praise for Tepper when he spoke to Fowler. He said he had nothing but positive thoughts about Tepper, who he respected and cared about. He didn't sound surprised by the firing.

"It’s not unconditional love," Reich told Fowler. "I understand from a professional standpoint Mr. Tepper is going to have certain standards that he expects to have met. I have no hard feelings, and my personal relationship with him was actually a real highlight of this short time."

It couldn't have helped Reich, a former NFL quarterback, that No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young struggled this season while second pick C.J. Stroud is thriving with the Houston Texans. Had Young been playing well but the Panthers were losing, his development would have been a reason to keep Reich around for another season.

But Young was playing poorly and Tepper isn't a patient man. It might be the end for Reich, who turns 62 years old on Dec. 4.

Reich had a good start as a head coach

Reich has had a notable football career. He will always be associated with the Buffalo Bills and leading that team to the largest comeback in playoff history against the Houston Oilers. When Reich was at Maryland, he also led a comeback against Miami that was the largest at the time in college football history.

Reich became a coach and his work as the offensive coordinator of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles, who won a Super Bowl, got him the Colts' head coaching job. He was 37-28 through four Colts seasons with two playoff appearances despite no stability at quarterback following Andrew Luck's retirement. Then he went 3-5-1 with the Colts last season and got fired, then went 1-10 this season with Carolina and got fired.

If this is the end for Reich's coaching career, he sounded at peace about it. Having a four-year guaranteed contract from the Panthers that still has more than three years on it probably helps.

“The way the doors opened up for it was amazing," Reich told Fowler. "But there’s not always a storybook ending…. I also take comfort and find peace and strength that there is a next chapter of my life. I do believe that. I do believe God ordains our steps.”