Dave Canales, with only one year as an NFL offensive coordinator, is still a bit of a mystery to Carolina Panthers fans. The 42-year old coach has said a lot of encouraging things about his intentions and plans for the Panthers, Bryce Young, and the future of the Carolinas, but so does every new coach.
To dig a little deeper on what Canales might bring to the table for the Panthers, I reached out to Gil Arcia over at Bucs Nation. Gil covered Canales for the entirety of his career as an offensive coordinator with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was able to give me some insight into our new coach. Read on for more about Canales’ affect on the Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield transition, his personality, what free agents we might see leave the Bucs to follow Canales, and more.
The 2023 Bucs transitioned from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield with national expectations of them taking a big step backwards. How did Bucs Nation feel about the Canales hire?
There was uncertainty, and lots of it. Not much was known about Canales when he was signed as the OC out of Seattle. Other than what we knew — was under Pete Carroll as a position coach, etc. — many wondered Canales would bring to the table from a playcalling and system perspective. We now see what he is/was capable of.
Now that he’s gone, what is the prevailing sentiment that you are seeing amongst fans?
There is an overall sense of disappointment. We witnessed the resurrection of Baker Mayfield’s career under Canales. We saw Rachaad White come just a few yards shy of 1,000 yards rushing. We saw a system that featured everyone on the offensive side of the ball with plays that played into the skill set of certain players. Now the fan base is back wondering “what’s next?” as the team is right back in the position they were in a year ago. I’d even argue there are in a slightly worse position considering the team lost some assistants as Canales took some with him.
How do you think the additions Canales brought over with him from the Bucs will help as he builds his vision of the Panthers?
I think the additions of Goodwin, Gilbert, and Idzik will be a huge help in building the system Canales wants in Charlotte. You have guys with familiarity to Canales on top of the mutual trust they built while in Tampa. They share the same vision and work very well together, on and off the field which is crucial. I mean we’re talking about guys that even spent time with each other outside of the team which alone is important in more ways than one. They all have the same focus and will undoubtedly pass that on to the players which is a very crucial layer to success.
Much has been made of Canales’ enthusiasm, a trait likened to Pete Carroll’s own relentless positivity. How did that affect the culture for the Bucs offense?
His teachings and attitude were most certainly infectious. His positive and upbeat mentality was contagious as many players from Baker Mayfield to Mike Evans to Tristan Wirfs spoke, often at lengths, about how great he was at coaching. I would say that what we saw on the bench during games, his interactions with the players coming off the field, was genuine and players appreciated how he interacted with them.
There was certainly never a “sky is falling” view from Canales. But rather a “let’s find a solution and implement it” type of approach, and he never wavered from that will transcended throughout the offensive side of the ball. That was apparent during the second half of the season when they turned things around.
What free agents from the Bucs do you think are now a threat to depart Tampa to join Canales in Charlotte? Asking for a Panthers fan base that is tired of being clowned by Mike Evans.
Well, I definitely don’t see it being Evans. Both he and the Buccaneers have recently spoken on the situation that both want him back. Senior Advisor to the GM Bruce Arians also spoke on the matter saying the Bucs will be paying him as well as others like Mayfield, Antoine Winfield, Jr., and Lavonte David.
Who I do think will join Canales (and Idzik) in Carolina is wide receiver David Moore. Doesn’t sound like much but his veteran presence played a big role in Tampa Bay’s receivers room and you can tell how important his role was to the team when he scored touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles. Again, not much on paper for the fans to hang their hats on but Canales/Idzik like him from his days in Seattle and he will immediately win over the locker room. Plus, it’ll be a guy on the field that’ll help with understanding the system.
Regardless on whether or not he can bring any player over, I really, really like what Canales can do with the Panthers. From building a staff, getting the right players, and implementing his system I think he can set Carolina up for a lot of success and truly hope Tepper doesn’t interfere with what he will try to do.