Panthers name 3 coordinators, hiring Brad Idzik on offense and retaining Ejiro Evero on defense

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The majority of new head coach Dave Canales' staff is now set in Carolina.

The Panthers have agreed to terms with Brad Idzik as their new offensive coordinator and Tracy Smith as special teams coordinator, and also announced that Ejiro Evero has been retained as defensive coordinator.

Idzik and Smith both worked with Canales in Tampa Bay and Seattle, and the return of Evero saves him from having to hire a completely new defensive staff. Canales served last season as the Buccaneers offensive coordinator and his offense averaged just 15 points in two games against Carolina in 2023.

Canales said at his introductory news conference last week that retaining Evero would be a “huge piece” for the Panthers.

“Just the respect factor that I have going against them,” Canales said of Evero and the Panthers defensive staff. “I know this scheme going against it. I’m really excited to learn more about the ins and outs as far as how the calls come in, the adjustments, and all that. I just know it was really difficult on me for years, whether it was in Seattle going against the Rams in that family or this year just going against EJ twice.

“So, and this is really important for me, especially as a first-time head coach. I’m here to make sure we get our football right, especially on the offensive side, that we have that continuity with the players, with EJ, just being able to have the mentality that I saw that was really challenging to play against."

Evero unsuccessfully interviewed for head coaching jobs in Carolina, Seattle and Atlanta during this coaching cycle.

Carolina was fourth in the league in total defense last season but 29th in points allowed, opposite an offense that struggled mightily last season and was shutout in the final two games of the season.

Idzik comes from Tampa Bay where he worked with Canales last season as the Buccaneers wide receivers coach and was on the same staff with Canales in Seattle beforehand.

Canalas plans to call plays on offense this season.

Smith was the Seahawks assistant special teams coach last year after coaching three seasons with the Houston Texans. The Seahawks finished in the top six in sports writer Rick Gosselin’s annual rankings each of the last three years, including second in 2022 and third in 2021.