While the two big coordinator hires are still pending for the Carolina Panthers, Frank Reich has made time to interview the Panthers former staff as he begins building his own. Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor and Offensive Line Coach James Campen, two of the most popular assistants from the 2022 squad, are being retained per reports.
New this evening: Panthers coach Frank Reich will retain special teams coord. Chris Tabor and OL coach James Campen, per league sources.— Joe Person (@josephperson) January 30, 2023
Mentioned this a.m. that Panthers encouraged HC candidates to keep both on staff after they impressed in 1st yr in CAR.https://t.co/6ekzNuJu5Y
It has also been reported that defensive coordinator Al Holcomb will not be retained on Reich’s staff. Holcomb was not expected to stay with the Panthers, but I do appreciate that Reich interviewed him to make sure. There seems to be a refreshing attitude at Bank of America Stadium now of challenging assumptions and doing the work to form their own opinions.
#Panthers interim defensive coordinator Al Holcomb will not return to Carolina as part of Frank Reich's staff, according to a league source.— Mike Kaye (@mike_e_kaye) January 31, 2023
Tabor faced more than just the chaos of changing his boss mid season, he also had to bring on a new kicker late in the offseason after a season ending injury to incumbent Zane Gonzalez. Eddy Piñeiro came in and posted a career high 35 field goal attempts, making 33, with a career long of 54 yards. Some fans may remember him for missing a game-winning kick in the loss to Atlanta, but it is worth noting that Piñeiro’s 94% conversion rate on field goals was good for 1st in the league in the 2022 regular season.
The special teams unit as a whole under Tabor was ranked eighth in DVOA by Football Outsiders.
Similarly, Campen oversaw an absolute renaissance along the offensive line with a rookie left tackle and two mid-range free agents. That’s not to mention the complete scheme shift mid season or the change of centers at about the same time. Campen’s unit was consistently a—and often the only—bright spot for the Panthers offense in 2022. If you’re going to build a team from the trenches out then it makes sense to keep the best coach over that area this franchise has seen in a long time.
Retaining Tabor and Campen were somewhat obvious choices, so Reich won’t get a ton of credit for them. Still, it is refreshing to see a “don’t beat ourselves” mentality applied without fanfare or an ironic lack of self awareness. Here’s to more choices that are more right than hyped.