2022 NFL coaching changes: Carolina Panthers

2022 NFL coaching changes: Carolina Panthers

NFL Coaching Change with fantasy football impact

2022 NFL coaching changes: Carolina Panthers


Once tabbed as a budding offensive mastermind, former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo’s star burned out nearly as fast as his meteoric ascent.

In 2022, after spending the past two years as in Jacksonville and Dallas, respectively, McAdoo was hired by the Carolina Panthers to serve as offensive coordinator. He will replace Joe Brady and his interim replacement, Jeff Nixon, after Brady was surprisingly fired during the season.

A brief history trip to refresh how we ended up here … McAdoo was a promising OC under Tom Coughlin and ultimately replaced him as head coach in 2016. The first-year leader would see his team finish 11-5 and get bumped by the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card Round. His sophomore season really couldn’t have gone any worse. The Giants would start 0-5 in a chaos-marred campaign that culminated with McAdoo’s dismissal after a 2-12 record following a game in which he snapped Eli Manning’s 210-game consecutive-start streak by a benching in favor of Geno Smith.

It was so bad that McAdoo didn’t coach at all in 2018 or ’19. He reemerged in Jacksonville as a quarterbacks coach in 2020 and spent the 2021 season as an offensive consultant in Dallas under his former coach Mike McCarthy.

Coaching tendencies

McAdoo’s system is a West Coast offense at its core, and his teeth were cut in that same offensive design while coaching on Jim Haslett’s staff in 2004. That year, the offensive coordinator was none other than McCarthy, whom he followed to San Francisco and again to Green Bay.

His positional coaching has primarily involved tight ends and quarterbacks, which cannot be overlooked as aspects that helped Matt Rhule hire McAdoo. Not only are those two exceedingly important positions in a West Coast system, getting this quarterback situation righted in a hurry is paramount if Rhule wants to coach the Panthers beyond 2022.

Staples of McAdoo’s system include passing to running backs, involving tight ends who can challenge down the field, and racking up yards after the catch from the wideouts.

We all know Christian McCaffrey is among the best pass-catching backs in the league. Tight end/H-back Tommy Tremble offers plenty to work with as receiving outlet, and D.J. Moore’s ability after the catch is arguably his strongest trait. Veteran tight end Ian Thomas renewed with Carolina, securing a position of uncertainty within this offense.

The most dangerous of West Coast offenses have incorporated a reliable vertical threat and a dynamic chain-mover — both can be found Carolina wideouts Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall Jr., respectively. Not too many teams are three deep with such clear distribution of attributes.

In 2014, calling plays for the Giants, McAdoo’s offense finished 18th in pass-run ratio, throwing 57.5 percent of the time. The following season, the result was 11th with 60.7 percent of the snaps being passing attempts. Expect a balanced approach in an ideal situation.

Personnel changes

The Panthers enter the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine week sitting 16th in salary cap space, or $10.1 million under the limit. Restructuring a few contracts should permit some wiggle room in free agency, but we’re looking at a team that feels it’s closer to a retooling than full rebuild. Following several quality draft additions in the last few years, this is the fourth-youngest roster in the NFL, and a huge portion of Carolina’s success will be tied to how much McAdoo can coax out of them.

Rumblings have suggested McCaffrey could be traded. Until something happens, presume there won’t be any serious offseason moves from this backfield.

The offensive line will need to be addressed. Center Matt Paradis and a pair of guards, John Miller and Trenton Scott, are set to become free agents. QB Cam Newton is unrestricted but could return to compete for a starting job. He’s not a great system fit, though. The defense is in a much different situation with several key players, especially in the secondary, scheduled to hit free agency.

Fantasy football takeaway

It all comes down to Sam Darnold at quarterback. He’s in the fifth year of his rookie deal, which guarantees him more than $18 million — actually a bargain if he can be coached into a starting-caliber passer. To date, we’ve seen hardly anything from him to be confident in suggesting Darnold will take a significant step forward. This is a poor rookie QB class, and the free-agent market won’t be much better. Could Carolina swing a deal for someone currently under contract, such as Jimmy Garoppolo, and upgrade the position? Perhaps. It will be tough based on the salary cap situation, so safe money says the Panthers open with Darnold as the Week 1 starter. His fantasy worth is basically locked in undraftable territory.

McCaffrey has become a major injury liability, which dramatically alters his fantasy football value. Will his stock tumble out of Round 1? Probably not. The veteran is a difference-maker when healthy, so gamer will have to take a leap of faith when investing. If he’s on the field, CMC is an RB1.

Moore stands to be the most impactful receiver of the lot. While a notable second-year leap from Marshall may be in store, it would likely require an injury of lengthy duration to Moore before that were to happen to the extent of being a breakout. Anderson is a capable deep threat and has offered little more, outside of one year in his career. Moore is a fringe WR1 or ideal No. 2 in PPR, whereas the other two are late-round roster-fillers in conventional formats.

At tight end, Thomas returning on a new deal likely entrenches him as the starter. He has yet to live up to the hype surrounding his physical traits. Tremble should be granted every opportunity to show during the offseason program he can be the guy, but it’s probable the veteran Thomas will stand in the way of an expanded role. Neither is more than a flier candidate.

Overall, the addition of McAdoo may not be the splash move fantasy footballers had hoped for at OC. He is, however, a veteran coach from a proven system who has at least shown capable of commanding a quality offense. Some coaches are just terrible at being “the guy” but thrive as a coordinator, and that’s shaping up to be McAdoo’s character arc.


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