Duce Staley finally ‘close to home’ with Panthers, embracing latest opportunity with Frank Reich


Share This Post

or copy the link

Duce Staley’s role in Detroit (and rivalry with defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn) was a highlight of HBO’s Hard Knocks, but that time is now behind him.

Staley has moved to Carolina, joining Panthers coach Frank Reich’s new, star-studded staff as assistant head coach and running backs coach, working for a club of which Staley always wanted to be a part.

“It feels good to be back close to home,” Staley said Thursday. “Just growing up as a kid, of course, being in South Carolina during the time, ’95, ’96, of course the Panthers got going there. As a kid, you always dream about if you play in the NFL, you want to play close to home. So, the Panthers was definitely one of those teams that I thought about that hopefully draft me. It didn’t happen, but here I am now.”

  • Panthers’ Dom Capers believes DC Ejiro Evero has ‘it factor’ to be an NFL head coach
  • Panthers HC Frank Reich plans to hand off offensive play-calling at some point; coaching staff compiled with ‘diversity of thought’
  • 2023 NFL free agency: Unheralded players who should be kept off the market by their teams

Staley’s coaching career has officially included more stops than his 10-year playing career did. But change is good, at least in Staley’s eyes, because of whom he’s working under.

“First and foremost, Frank Reich,” Staley said when asked why he left Detroit for Carolina. “Awesome human being. Was able to win a Super Bowl with him. We talked about my mom, of course. She’s my heart, she’s my rock. So if I had an opportunity to come home, I said to myself a long time ago I would.

“But getting back to Frank, just being able to spend those years in Philadelphia with Frank Reich and win a Super Bowl, just to see him go out there and affect young men the way he did, it was awesome. And I said to myself I would love to have the opportunity to coach with him again.”

Staley began his coaching career in Philadelphia and spent two seasons working under Reich, who served as Eagles offensive coordinator in 2016 and 2017. In their second year together, the Eagles stunned the football world by completing a run to a Super Bowl triumph, toppling the dynastic Patriots in Super Bowl LII. That victory helped Reich secure the head-coaching job in Indianapolis, where he served from 2018 up until he was fired during the 2022 season.

Blessings often come in disguises, though. For Staley, Reich’s termination and journey to Charlotte created a path for him to return home. It will also present him with an opportunity to assist in another turnaround.

Detroit caught fire in the second half of the 2022 season, narrowly missing out on a playoff appearance one year after finishing with the second-worst record in the NFL. Under the direction of Staley and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, the Lions finished with a top-five offense and the league’s 11th-best rushing attack.

Foreman responded in kind, rushing for 4.5 yards per carry on 203 attempts and scoring five touchdowns on the ground in 17 games (nine starts). Staley, who talked plenty about the importance of hard work and grit in Detroit’s turnaround, sees Foreman as a perfect fit whom he hopes general manager Scott Fitterer will find a way to keep.

“Super high. Super high for me,” Staley said when asked for his thoughts of Foreman. “But you know, my last name ain’t Fitterer.”

Duce Staley finally ‘close to home’ with Panthers, embracing latest opportunity with Frank Reich

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *