Geno Smith Mentor Lands NFL Head Coach Job

Former Seahawks QB coach and new Panthers head coach Dave Canales in 2010 photo.

Getty Former Seahawks QB coach Dave Canales in 2010 photo.

Journeyman Geno Smith becoming a playoff-caliber quarterback was nearly unthinkable three years ago. However, under the tutelage of a young, dynamic quarterbacks coach, that’s exactly what happened. And now that QB whisperer, Dave Canales, is the head coach of the Carolina Panthers.

Dave Canales Lands the Panthers Head Coach Gig

On Thursday, Jan. 25, the Carolina Panthers announced that Dave Canales would become the seventh full-time head coach in franchise history. The 42-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator is a first-time head coach but comes with some impressive experience, much of it with the Seattle Seahawks.

In 2010, Pete Carroll brought his USC strength and conditioning coach with him to the NFL and installed him as the team’s wide receivers coach. Canales held that position for seven seasons, transitioning to quarterbacks coach in 2018. During the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Canales held the title of passing game coordinator before going back to quarterbacks coach in 2022.

The Los Angeles-area native took the Buccaneers offensive coordinator job for the 2023 season, and after the team’s surprising run to the Divisional Round, Panthers owner David Tepper came calling.

Canales will not replace Frank Reich, who got just 11 games as head coach in Carolina. However, firing the former Bucs and Seahawks coach in season one will be difficult, as Canales signed a six-year deal.

This is rare for first-time head coaches, as The 33rd Team’s Ari Meirov reports, but it may be becoming a trend as the Houston Texans’ DeMeco Ryans, San Francisco 49ers Kyle Shanahan, and Detroit Lions Dan Campbell have all started with this type of job security in recent years.

Canales Turns Quarterbacks Around

David Tepper and the Panthers picked Dave Canales for one major reason: He gets the most out of quarterbacks.

When Canales took over as quarterbacks coach and then passing game coordinator for the Seahawks, Russell Wilson made the Pro Bowl every season and was second-team All-Pro in 2019. After Wilson left Canales, he fell apart. Now, how much of this is on Canales’ skills is unknown, but it is worth noting.

Then, after the Wilson trade, no one thought that Geno Smith could become a QB capable of leading his team to the playoffs. However, with Canales back as quarterbacks coach, that is exactly what he did. With Canales gone in 2023, Smith did not have the same year, and the Seahawks missed the playoffs.

Again, not sure how much of that is Canales, but worth noting.

Finally, Canales resurrected another QB from the dead in 2023, taking Baker Mayfield off the scrap heap and leading him to the playoffs and a Wild Card upset of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Worth noting here is you may want to bet heavily on the Buccaneers missing the playoffs next season if the trends continue.

In Carolina, Canales has one mandate. That is to get the most out of No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young, who the Panthers gave up a ton to get in the 2023 NFL Draft. The success or failure of that mission will largely dictate how much of that six-year contract Canales sees out.

… And Then There Were 2

With Dave Canales now the Panthers’ head coach and Raheem Morris the new headman with the Atlanta Falcons, there are now two job openings left in the NFL. The Seahawks and the Washington Commanders are the lone teams without a head coach as of Jan. 26, 2024.

For the Commanders, the rumors are they are set on Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who is still coaching in the NFL Playoffs.

As for the Seahawks, they now have their choice of any available coach.

This means former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel, Baltimore Ravens DC Mike Macdonald, Dallas Cowboys DC Dan Quinn, or heck, even Bill Belichick are in play for Seattle.

Seahawks fans will have to wonder, though, if Canales works out well in Carolina, should the Seattle have given its old offensive guru a better look?

Read More