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Panthers 'Plan' to Hold Second Round of Interviews

The coaching search is just getting started...

Nine candidates have interviewed for the Carolina Panthers head coaching job and now, the team is expected to conduct a second round of interviews, as expected.

Those candidates?

Jim Caldwell (former Colts and Lions head coach)

Caldwell is a well-respected coach in the NFL thanks to what he has done with guys such as Peyton Manning (Colts), Joe Flacco (Ravens), and Matthew Stafford (Lions). In his two stints as a head coach, Caldwell combined to go 62-50, including taking the Colts to a Super Bowl in his first season on the job in 2009. For an organization that has struggled on the offensive side of the ball, particularly at quarterback, Caldwell makes sense. 

Steve Wilks (Panthers interim head coach)

After what Steve Wilks did in his 13 weeks in charge of the team, there is a strong belief from those within the locker room that he is the right man for the job. He took a team that was dead in the water that had no direction and had them two wins away from an NFC South championship and a playoff berth. Wilks has seen both the good and the bad in Carolina and if there's one guy that knows how to get this organization back to its winning ways, it's Steve Wilks.

Frank Reich (former Colts head coach)

Reich couldn't get the quarterback position right while in Indianapolis and because of it, the Colts decided to move in a different direction. He did, however, help build the Colts' roster into one of the best in the AFC. Unfortunately, injuries and inconsistent QB play were the team's downfall. In four-plus years as the head man, Reich compiled a 40-33-1 record. Like the two names mentioned above, Reich has a Panthers background, albeit one year. Reich was actually the first starting quarterback in the team's history, starting three games during the inaugural season in 1995.

Shane Steichen (Eagles offensive coordinator)

Steichen is going to be a very popular candidate in the coaching carousel this offseason with many NFL teams viewing him as one of the top young offensive minds out there. He helped develop Justin Herbert during his rookie year with the Chargers and has done a remarkable job with Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. Although everyone wants to talk about the quarterbacks, Steichen places an emphasis on running the ball. The Eagles finished the season ranked 5th in rushing, averaging 147.6 yards per game.

Ejiro Evero (Broncos defensive coordinator)

Ejiro has also interviewed with the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos. He has another interview with the Houston Texans scheduled for next week.

In 2021, the Broncos' defense finished 12th in pass defense (210.2 ypg), 10th in rush defense (109.8 ypg), 7th in total defense (320 ypg), and 14th in scoring defense (21.1 ppg).

Ken Dorsey (Bills offensive coordinator)

Dorsey got his start in coaching with the Panthers back in 2013 as the quarterback's coach - a position he held for five seasons. In 2018, he took a brief break from coaching to become the assistant director of athletics for the sports program at Florida International. The following season, he returned to the NFL, reuniting with Sean McDermott in Buffalo to be his quarterback's coach. Dorsey has had a big impact on the development of Josh Allen, who was once viewed as a project. Now, he's one of the best signal callers in the entire league. Once Brian Daboll took the New York Giants head coaching gig, Dorsey was promoted to offensive coordinator. The Bills are 2nd in the NFL in scoring averaging 28.4 points per game. 

Mike Kafka (Giants offensive coordinator)

Kafka is a name that many aren't all that familiar with but he has a pretty good resume, to say the least. After serving as a quality control coach in 2017, Kafka was promoted to be the quarterback's coach of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018, also the first full year that Patrick Mahomes started in the league. He worked with Mahomes through the 2021 season before accepting the offensive coordinator role with the Giants, helping lead them to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Daniel Jones struggled with consistency during his first three years in the league and some wondered if he would remain a part of the Giants' future. Kafka has had a big part in developing Jones and helping him turn in a career year, completing 67% of his passes and throwing for a career-high 3,205 yards and just five interceptions (career low). 

Sean Payton (former Saints head coach)

Payton spent 15 years strolling the sidelines in New Orleans, helping lead the Saints to a 152-89 record, seven NFC South division titles, and one Super Bowl. 

It's rare that a high-profile coach like Payton becomes available, which is why hiring him will come with a hefty price tag. Not only will he garner a large contract but because he is still under contract with the Saints, a team will have to trade for him. The rumored compensation is at least one first-round pick, possibly two.

Kellen Moore (Cowboys offensive coordinator)

Moore, 34, is viewed as one of the top coordinators in the league and is someone who will draw interest as a head coaching candidate from others as well. Last year, Moore interviewed for the head coaching vacancies in Jacksonville and Miami.

After retiring as a backup quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, Moore shifted to the Dallas coaching staff as the quarterback's coach where he served in that role for just one season before replacing the fired Scott Linehan as offensive coordinator.

This season, the Cowboys finished 4th in scoring (27.5 ppg), 11th in total offense (354.9 ypg), 9th in rushing (135.2 ypg), and 14th in passing (219.8 ypg).

No details have emerged as of Tuesday evening in terms of which candidates will get a second interview or when those meetings will occur. 

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