Is Mike Kafka a legitimate contender for Panthers head coach?

(Danielle Parhizkaran/The Record via IMAGN Content Services) Mike Kafka
(Danielle Parhizkaran/The Record via IMAGN Content Services) Mike Kafka /

Is Mike Kafka a legitimate contender to become the Carolina Panthers’ next head coach after his interview was officially confirmed for this weekend?

It promised to be a busy weekend for the Carolina Panthers as those in power continue their search for a new head coach. Team owner David Tepper was set to discuss the possibility with Sean Payton in Manhattan, which could alter how the organization approaches other candidates before anything official is confirmed.

Payton is the big prize and is being coveted heavily by the Panthers. Others such as the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals could also be landing spots given they already boast a capable quarterback to smooth the coach’s transition.

Ken Dorsey was next on the list before a tragic even put everything on hold, who held the position of quarterbacks coach in Carolina during Cam Newton’s meteoric rise to superstardom and is currently leading the Buffalo Bills offense on another Super Bowl tilt.

Dan Morgan knows Dorsey well from their time together in Buffalo and could bang the table hard for his triumphant Panthers return. However, a wildcard is also entering the fray.

Carolina Panthers will interview Mike Kafka for their head coaching vacancy

The Panthers will run the rule over Mike Kafka on Sunday once their interviews resume. Something that brings tremendous intrigue.

Kafka has just one season of legitimate NFL coordinator experience with the New York Giants. But he is a fast riser among the coaching ranks and widely respected in league circles.

His work as Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks coach came in for significant praise. This played a big role in Patrick Mahomes becoming a perennial NFL MVP candidate for good measure.

This fine work continued when Brian Daboll brought him to New York. The Giants have come on leaps and bounds offensively thanks to this duo, which has brought a career renaissance for quarterback Daniel Jones and the team accomplishing way more than most originally projected before the campaign.

Whether this particular cycle is too soon for Kafka remains to be seen. We’ve already seen Ben Johnson opt to remain with the Detroit Lions to accumulate additional experience, so a situation could arise where Carolina’s final interviewee is concerned.

It’s a long shot compared to others. Especially if Tepper wants someone with previous NFL head coaching experience after the Matt Rhule experiment failed dismally.

But the notion Kafka has no shot is foolish based on his current career trajectory.

He is an ex-player who is thriving on the sidelines. This commands instant respect within the locker room and is something that’s unlikely to go unnoticed by Tepper.

Kafka wouldn’t likely demand nearly as much as Payton or Frank Reich. His influence on personnel matters should be collaborative rather than getting the final say similar to that of Rhule or Payton.

The Panthers will give Kafka every chance of staking his claim. If the Giants cause an upset in Philadelphia, his stock will propel to heights not seen before.

And who knows, that might be enough to tip the scales in his favor.

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