While the madness of NFL coaching hires began in earnest on Tuesday with the hiring of Matt LaFleur and Kliff Kingsbury as head coaches of the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals respectively, all has been mostly quiet on the Carolina Panthers’ front. But with the coming of Wednesday, it looks as though so too will come the first interview for a potential new hire on the Panthers’ coaching staff.
According to a report by Joe Person of The Athletic, the Panthers are set to interview Perry Fewell for a job coaching the Panthers’ secondary. The Panthers have had a vacancy in their secondary coaching staff ever since assistant secondary coach Jeff Imamura was fired following Week 13. Fewell, a native of Cramerton, North Carolina and a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, coached at the collegiate level for 13 years before entering the NFL in 1998 as a defensive backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Working under head coach Tom Coughlin, Fewell would work for the Jaguars until 2002 before serving in the same position for the St. Louis Rams. After two years in St. Louis, Fewell took the same position with the Chicago Bears, working with then-Bears defensive coordinator and current Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. Fewell would only coach with Rivera for one year before taking a job as defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. By the end of his tenure in Buffalo, he had also served as the interim head coach in 2009.
After his tenure in Buffalo ended, Fewell reunited with Coughlin to become the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants in 2010. He would work for the Giants until 2014, winning Super Bowl XLVI in that timeframe. After returning to a defensive backs coach position with the Washington Redskins, Fewell would return to the Jaguars in 2017, re-assuming his old role with Coughlin now in an executive role.
With the Jaguars, Fewell would coach one of the NFL’s best secondaries and helped both of the team’s starring cornerbacks, Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, earn Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. However, after the Jaguars plummeted from reaching the AFC Championship Game in 2017 to 5-11 in 2018, Fewell was among several Jaguars assistants fired at season’s end.
In a somewhat interesting twist of fate, this will not be the first time that Fewell interviews for a job with the Panthers. According to Person, Fewell was among the candidates who interviewed to become the head coach of the Panthers in 2011 before Rivera was eventually hired.
Assuming that Fewell earns the job, he will be tasked with helping a secondary that showed great promise in 2018 take the next step: Particularly the cornerbacking pair of James Bradberry and Donte Jackson, who displayed flashes of becoming the same sort of lethal duo that Ramsey and Bouye had been under Fewell.