What’s Next For The Panthers After This Miserable 0 – 2 Start?

September 21, 2022

What next for the Carolina Panthers after the team lost for a second consecutive week to a game-winning field goal as they start the season 0-2?

Heading into the season Carolina had fans believing this season could be different than those in recent memory, after head coach Matt Rhule recorded back-to-back five-win seasons a mixture of good drafting and shrewd free acquisitions saw many amongst the Panthers fan base thinking this team had the chance to be a wildcard, especially with a schedule which saw four of the Panthers first five games being played at home. 

However, back-to-back defeats by teams led by sup par quarterbacks in Jacoby Brissett and Daniel Jones means Carolina is 0-2 and head coach Matt Rhule finds his seat hot. Their next five games see them meeting four playoff teams from a season ago including a visit to the defending Super Bowl champion LA Rams. From what we’ve seen through the first two weeks on both sides of the ball, it is a serious possibility by week seven they are 0-7, and more than likely head coach Matt Rhule is looking for a new job.

The way owner David Tepper has run the franchise since purchasing the team in 2018 leaves little confidence that he would get a potential coaching hire right, and while Rhule has been at fault for a lot of the problems with this Carolina Panthers team, his coordinators are not absolved of blame, OC Ben McAdoo has had a disjointed first two weeks calling plays for his new team.

In the Week One loss to the Cleveland Browns the Panthers struggled to get star running back Christian McCaffrey involved as the former Stanford Cardinal recorded just 14 touches, fast forward to Week Two McCaffrey logged his first 100-yard rushing game in almost three years, wide receiver DJ Moore logged just three catches on six targets for a second week. However, when Moore was targeted on back-to-back plays it helped Baker Mayfield lead the Panthers on a three-play 67-yard drive ending in a touchdown to Moore. 

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Panthers Defense

And on the other side of the ball defensive coordinator, Phil Snow has also struggled in different facets of the game, during Week One the Browns ran all over Carolina clocking up an eye-watering 217 yards rushing as they overcame the Panthers. In Week Two while the run defense was improved with Saquon Barkley held to just 72 yards rushing, the Panthers’ defense failed to get off the field on third downs and through two weeks are now the only team in the NFL to so far not force a turnover. 

However, most of the issues revolve around Rhule, and his refusal to use wide receivers lower on the depth chart, through two weeks the Panthers have used just three wide receivers in DJ Moore, Robbie Anderson, and Shi Smith, with fellow receivers Rashard Higgins and Terrace Marshall JR logging zero targets between them through two weeks, considering Higgins has a prior relationship with Baker Mayfield from there time in Cleveland. 

A 0-2 start has sent a Panthers fan base already on edge into complete meltdown with many happy to drive Matt Rhule to the airport, Rhule has done little to endear himself to Panthers fans since joining the team, remember this was the coach who cut franchise legend, Cam Newton, just weeks after being hired. Rhule has had success in the collegiate game turning around struggling programs in Temple and Baylor, with Nebraska and Arizona parting ways with their coaches over the last ten days, don’t be surprised to see Matt Rhule’s name floating around the college rumor mill again. 

Either way, looking at the Panthers’ remaining schedule and judging from the play so far, wins are likely to be at a premium. This likely means that next offseason the Panthers will have a new head coach and will be in a prime position in the draft to select one of the top stars coming from the college game.