How has Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich managed to stay ahead of the game despite his old-school demeanor?
Frank Reich has been nothing short of a revelation since he became Carolina Panthers' head coach. His high standards, exceptional football acumen, and ability to lead men are in stark contrast with team owner David Tepper's first hire - a man that couldn't get out of his own way and had the ego unbefitting of his ability.
It's not hard to see why Tepper became convinced that Reich was the man to take Carolina forward. While his offensive background helped considering the current NFL landscape, the coach also had a grand plan to mold an elite staff mixed with youth and experience - something that offers a broader set of opinions and mixes the traditional with the modern day.
This has also gotten Reich out of his comfort zone, too. Some compromise had to be reached when devising the scheme alongside offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, which is all part of Carolina's new collaborative approach without one man holding absolute power.
Frank Reich born again with the Carolina Panthers
When speaking to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated before heading down to Spartanburg for a nostalgic training camp, Reich stated that being open-minded with room to grow despite being at the tail-end of his coaching career has kept him ahead of the game. After all, you're never too old to learn.
"Absolutely, it’s made me a better coach. It’s the healthy tension of being strong and staying central on your core convictions, but being open-minded and willing to grow and learn. And one thing I know and I believe I can never get accused of, is that hey, this isn’t a guy who’s 61 years old, who’s just stuck in the old ways. That’s never been who I am. The age thing is nothing. I always want to be at the cutting edge of team philosophy, leadership, offensive philosophy. It’s always been a continual quest to stay on the cutting edge of that. So that’s regardless of age. And I think that’s what bringing different people to the table; it keeps it fresh."- Frank Reich via Sports Illustrated
Nobody is going to agree all the time. Least of all a tandem of Reich and Brown, who come from different offensive philosophies and hadn't worked together previously before linking up in Carolina.
This combination of old and new has seemingly meshed together a complex yet extremely creative system. With a cerebral assassin in quarterback Bryce Young under center, it's easy to believe big things are set to emerge from the Panthers immediately under Reich's exceptional guidance.
Standing still and becoming stuck in your ways is never the best course of action. This rings true not only where NFL coaching is concerned, but in all forms of employment and life situations.
Keeping up to date with the latest trends, not getting left behind, and becoming receptive to different ideas is something that was probably difficult for Reich initially. However, making a real go of this opportunity in an area where his family remains deeply rooted trumped everything else.
Reich's old-school coaching methods are still evident - that will never change. But having a young, vibrant coaching staff around should ensure he's kept on his toes and right up to date with the current NFL trajectory.
And in many respects, it's the perfect combination.