3 Carolina Panthers head coach candidates whose stock soared over wildcard weekend

The Carolina Panthers have the potential to make a home-run hire with their next head coach.

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Carolina Panthers could hire Dave Canales

  • Offensive Coordinator | Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I think in terms of quarterback development and progression, Dave Canales might be the best person for that role. His stock is certainly soaring, and it's been soaring over the last two seasons.

From 2010-2022, Canales was with the Seattle Seahawks in a variety of roles. He is most known for his work with Geno Smith back in 2022 when he was the team's quarterbacks coach.

This was the first year in a decade without the Seahawks having Russell Wilson under center. I don't think people had the highest of expectations with Smith as the QB1. However, the veteran signal-caller exploded in 2022, leading the league in completion percentage and heading the NFC in touchdown passes.

Smith had a 100.9 passer rating. To say it came out of nowhere would be an understatement.

Canales had a big impact on Smith's rise from obscurity. In 2023, he was brought on as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator. He's revived the career of Baker Mayfield to the tune of 28 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions during the regular season.

The Bucs' offense ranked just No. 20 in points scored, but Canales has had a significant impact on this team. Mayfield is playing the best football of his career. Tampa Bay's unit led by their progressive play-caller had its way with the Philadelphia Eagles defense in the wildcard round.

Mayfield threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns to all but guarantee he'll return next season. Canales has done wonders with the two aforementioned passers who are limited in many ways. It's crazy to think what work he could do with a more talented passer, perhaps like Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young.

Ben Johnson, Bobby Slowik, and Dave Canales saw their stocks skyrocket over wildcard weekend. The Panthers want to interview all of them. That's a good sign.