Just because I was out of town over the weekend doesn’t mean the Panthers stopped building their new coaching staff. Since hiring Thomas Brown on Friday, they have officially hired or retained a number of assistant coaches on both sides of the ball.
Shawn Jefferson was named as wide receivers coach, bringing 17 years of NFL coaching experience to the table; Robert Kugler was officially retained as James Campen’s assistant OL coach; former Pro Bowl defensive back and 15-year NFL veteran Deangelo Hall was hired as a first time coach in the assistant defensive back coach role under Jonathan Cooley; Tem Lukabu was hired as outside linebackers coach after a couple years of defensive coordinator experience at Boston College and NFL linebackers coaching experience prior to that; Todd Wash joined the team as defensive line coach after ten years of with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, including as defensive coordinator with the Jaguars from 2016-2020; and Bert Watts was named as safeties coach after coaching with Ejiro Evero as a linebackers coach in Denver last season and having ten years of college assistance roles prior to that.
The most intriguing names on this list to me are the first and the last.
Jefferson has experience working with—and getting the most out of—some big name receivers like Calvin Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. He is also the father of current star Los Angeles Rams receiver Van Jefferson. DJ Moore is obviously going to benefit from having a coach with Jefferson’s experiences, but I can’t wait to see what happens with Terrace Marshall Jr under this new staff.
Watts transition from linebackers to safeties coach under Evero raises a lot of questions about their intentions for Jeremy Chinn. There remain a lot of questions overall about what the Panthers defense is going to look like next year, but this job change looks like strong evidence that the team is going to mold their strategies to fit their talents rather than force guys into the coaches’ ideal roles. Chinn has been quiet for a couple of seasons now after switching more full time to a traditional safety role, but we know he has the talent to be a game changer when in the right place. This new staff may provide a better chance than we could have hoped for resurrecting his career as a playmaker.