How Do Teams Fare Next Season After Firing 1st-Year Head Coach?

How Do Teams Fare Next Season After Firing 1st-Year Head Coach?
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

The Frank Reich era in Carolina ended after just 11 games.

With the Panthers falling to 1-10 after losing to Tennessee, 17-10, on Sunday, the Panthers fired first-year coach Reich and elevated special teams coach Chris Tabor to interim head coach.

There will be a permanent replacement for Reich when North Carolina sports betting is in place before next season.

Since 2000, there have been 15 head coaches fired in their first season as coach. Perhaps a comfort to Panthers fans is that the next-year history of teams that made such a move has been surprisingly decent.

Utilizing Pro-Football-Reference.com, BetCarolina.com – your source for North Carolina sports betting apps - looked at how teams performed the year after firing a first-year head coach in that span.

Season After Firing 1st-Year Head Coach

Situation
Record Year After Firing7-9
Made Playoffs Year After Firing6 of 15 (40%)
Won Playoff Game Year After Firing3 of 15 (20%)
* Rounded to nearest whole number

 

A Quick Turnaround Is Possible

An encouraging stat line is that of the 15 case histories since 2000, six of those teams, or 40%, qualified for the playoffs the next season, with three even moving past the first round of the playoffs. Of course, the Panthers’ playoff chances disintegrated quickly under Reich this season.

In the aggregate, the 15 teams that replaced first-year coaches finished 7-9 the following season. 

Not included in the above statistics are the two teams that fired their first-year head coaches last season, Denver and Houston.  In those cases, the two teams are currently trending upward.  After a slow start, the Broncos are now 6-5 and in second place in the AFC West.  The Texans are also 6-5 and they’re tied for second in the AFC South.  As a result, Denver and Houston are in the AFC scramble for playoff berths.

Some Signs of Worry for Panthers

While those stats might give encouragement to Panthers fans, there are some realities to Carolina’s situation that work against a similar turnaround.

The Panthers find themselves in this position after having already spent the first overall pick in the 2023 draft on their rookie quarterback, Bryce Young, whose performance has been underwhelming, to say the least.  Making matters worse, in order to have the No. 1 overall choice with which to draft Young, Carolina traded away the No. 9 and the No. 61 selections in the 2023 draft, their first-round pick in 2024, their second-rounder in 2025 and an excellent wide receiver in D.J. Moore.

In short, it’s not at all clear that Young ever will play up to his No. 1-overall status and it’s unlikely the Panthers can reload on talent quickly to help him because they mortgaged their immediate future banking on Young to be the franchise QB.

So far this season, Young is 1-9 as a starter, completing 216 of 350 passes (61.7%) for nine TDs and eight interceptions. Further, at 5-10 and 204 pounds, there’s concern about Young weathering the pounding that NFL quarterbacks endure.

Meanwhile, Reich might wind up faring the best out of all this.  He’s still regarded as a good mentor to quarterbacks and probably will find work somewhere in the NFL.  He had signed a handsome contract with his previous team, Indianapolis, and another one with Carolina.  And the tenure with the Panthers was grueling,  albeit short. As ESPN analyst Rex Ryan put it, Reich looked like he aged 10 years coaching the Panthers.

Reich’s predecessor in Carolina was also fired mid-season. Matt Rhule went 10-23 in his first two full seasons with the Panthers and was fired last season after a 1-4 start. Despite interim coach Steve Wilks going 6-6 to finish out the 2022 campaign, he didn’t get the full-time job.

First-Year Head Coaches Fired Since 2000

  • Al Groh, New York Jets, 2000
  • Marty Schottenheimer, Washington Redskins, 2001
  • Art Shell, Oakland Raiders, 2006
  • Cam Cameron, Miami Dolphins, 2007
  • Bobby Petrino, Atlanta Falcons, 2007
  • Jim Mora Jr., Seattle Seahawks, 2009
  • Hue Jackson, Oakland Raiders, 2011
  • Mike Mularkey, Jacksonville Jaguars, 2012
  • Rob Chudzinski, Cleveland Browns, 2013
  • Jim Tomsula, San Francisco 49ers, 2015
  • Chip Kelly, San Francisco 49ers, 2016
  • Steve Wilks, Arizona Cardinals, 2018
  • Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns, 2019
  • Urban Meyer, Jacksonville Jaguars, 2021
  • David Culley, Houston Texans, 2021
  • Nathaniel Hackett, Denver Broncos, 2022 (not included in statistics)
  • Lovie Smith, Houston Texans, 2022 (not included in statistics) 
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Author

Bill Ordine
Senior Journalist & Opinion Columnist

Bill Ordine, senior journalist and columnist for BetCarolina.com, was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years. He covered the World Series of Poker for a decade and his articles on gaming have appeared in many major U.S. newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald and others.

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