Panthers pick Dave Canales as head coach

The Carolina Panthers named Dave Canales their next head coach on Thursday night.

Canales, 42, spent the 2023 season as offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and previously coached quarterbacks for the Seattle Seahawks, where new Panthers general manager Dan Morgan was among his co-workers.

Canales and Morgan were both hired by the Seahawks in 2010 and climbed the professional ranks together.

Canales becomes the seventh head coach since owner David Tepper purchased the team in 2018, counting three interim coaches. Chris Tabor finished last season as interim coach after the firing of first-year coach Frank Reich. Reich was hired over 2022 interim coach Steve Wilks, who had replaced Matt Rhule. Rhule was Tepper’s pick to replace Ron Rivera, with Perry Fewell holding down the fort as interim coach in between.

“Dave’s background is rooted in success,” Tepper said in a statement. “He has an innovative mindset and positive energy that connects well with players and staff. We are impressed with his ability to bring out the best in players.”

Carolina finished with the NFL’s worst record at 2-15 last year and ranked 32nd in total offense (265.3 yards per game) and passing (161.2 ypg). The Panthers tied for last in points per game (13.9) with the New England Patriots.

Reports indicated the Panthers are working to keep their defensive staff intact.

Canales was an assistant strength coach at Southern California when he was hired by the Seahawks in 2010 as an offensive quality control coach and climbed the ranks to passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He was credited for reviving the career of Geno Smith, a Pro Bowl pick with 4,282 passing yards in 2022, and received even more kudos for extracting a career year out of former Panthers failed revival project Baker Mayfield in 2023. Mayfield turned in career-high numbers with 4,044 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and a 64.3 completion percentage.

Canales has never been a head coach at any level. He becomes the only active NFL head coach of Hispanic heritage and the fifth in league history, joining a list that features Rivera.

Morgan was an NFL linebacker drafted 11th overall in the 2001 draft by the Panthers. Injuries, including a series of concussions, cut his career short after 59 games.