Panthers Rumors: Jay Gruden, Bill O’Brien and Kevin O'Connell Eyed for OC Role

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 9, 2022

ATLANTA, GA  DECEMBER 04:  Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien prior to the start of the SEC Championship college football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs on December 4th, 2021 at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.  (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers are reportedly targeting Jay Gruden and Bill O'Brien as candidates for their vacant offensive coordinator job.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell could also be a candidate.

Gruden was out of football this season after serving as the Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive coordinator in 2020. O'Brien is in his first season as offensive coordinator at Alabama, helping the Crimson Tide to the national championship game.

O'Connell is in his second season as offensive coordinator under Sean McVay.

The Panthers are looking to replace Joe Brady, who was fired in December less than two seasons into the job. Brady was one of the hottest names in football upon his hiring, but the Carolina offense struggled the past two seasons amid massive personnel issues at quarterback and injuries to running back Christian McCaffrey.

Hiring a name like Gruden or O'Brien could be a sign head coach Matt Rhule's seat is getting warm. Both coaches have significant head-coaching experience and could step in as an interim coach if things go south next season. It's unclear what level of say Rhule has in hiring the coordinator after two wildly disappointing seasons.

Gruden spent six seasons with the Washington Football Team as head coach, while O'Brien led the Houston Texans for seven seasons.