Could Bobby Slowik's playoff masterclass put the Carolina Panthers on red alert in their quest to find the right head coach?
The Carolina Panthers are casting their net far and wide to finally put the right head coach in place. Ben Johnson is reportedly their preferred target. Others are being interviewed. Another shortlisted option did his chances of securing a top job an endless amount of good with an exceptional display of his credentials in a playoff setting.
Bobby Slowik put on a play-calling masterclass during Saturday's game against the Cleveland Browns. The Houston Texans offensive coordinator's innovation and trust in rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud had one of the league's best defenses on the back foot from start to finish. Couple this with two pick-sixes in succession from veteran signal-caller Joe Flacco, it came as no surprise to see DeMeco Ryans' squad emerge as comfortable winners.
Slowik's outstanding strategy received widespread praise in the game's immediate aftermath. He knows exactly how to put his players in the best positions to thrive. He knows exactly how to use misdirection, shifts, and pre-snap motions effectively. He continues to compensate for almost no consistent production on the ground.
Carolina Panthers should seriously consider Bobby Slowik
This should put the Panthers on red alert. Their quest for Johnson won't come with a happy ending if the Washington Commanders have anything to say about it. Make no mistake, Slowik is not a bad consolation prize by any stretch.
Slowik looks like the latest in a long line of Mike Shanahan protégés set for head coaching gigs. As we all know, this system has proven to be highly effective. He's a little inexperienced with just one season as an NFL play-caller, but his background alone suggests he's more than ready for this opportunity.
Although Slowik specializes in offense, he's got a background as a defensive quality control guy, too. Shanahan wanted him to start there to become more well-rounded. Once he linked up with Kyle Shanahan on the San Francisco 49ers, the offensive focus returned with newfound knowledge attached.
The Texans have gone from potentially securing the No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft before Lovie Smith's final-day win last season to a divisional playoff berth in one year. Ryans deserves the lion's share of credit for galvanizing a failing franchise. But this meteoric return to contention isn't possible without Slowik's outstanding impact.
How different would things look for Bryce Young with a schematic genius like Slowik running the offense? He's turned Stroud into an elite performer right out of the gate. In contrast, the constant turmoil surrounding the No. 1 pick resulted in a rookie campaign to forget.
Building around Young is immensely important considering the Panthers' substantial investment in the quarterback. If they cannot land Johnson, then Slowik might be the next best option. Someone who could maximize the Alabama product's skill set and mold the scheme around his undoubted talent.
Slowik's playoff performance versus the Browns has only heightened the level of interest surrounding his head coaching capabilities. The Panthers have already thrown their hat in the ring. They'd be wise to give him serious consideration after a remarkable rise to prominence in Houston.
And the best part? Slowik is only going to get better.