With Matt Rhule under pressure, will he finally put Baker on the bench as he fights for his job as Panthers Head Coach
The plummeting 1-3 Carolina Panthers are set to face a 2-2 red-hot San Francisco 49ers defense that has forced six turnovers in their last four games. Rhule’s Panthers will have a hard time moving the ball in Week Five against Niners defense who held the defending champion Rams to just Nine points.
While there is talent on the team, the quarterback position is in shambles. Mayfield has four passing touchdowns to three interceptions early in this football season, and next week could determine if he remains the starting QB for the Panthers. If Mayfield has a bad game again, Rhule may have decide whether or not to bench Baker.
Panthers QB Under Pressure?
Baker won the starting quarterback position before Week One, due to backup QB Sam Darnold injuring his ankle. With no reliable backup, the Panthers could turn to P.J. Walker who is 2-0 as an NFL starter for a few games, to give the team a chance to win football games until Darnold is fully healthy.
Under Rhule’s coaching, the Panthers have won 11 of 37 games, 29 percent of their games. The team is 1-26 when they allow 17+ points.
Rhule can’t win games at the NFL lecel, but the team has the potential to be an “ok” squad with what is a talented roster especially on Defense.
Baker looked promising during his first two starts as Carolina Panthers QB, losing both games by late field goals. In Week Three, Baker showed grit and determination getting a win over Divisional Rivals, the New Orleans Saints. However, Baker had issues with interceptions in Week Four, throwing two, and passing for 197 total yards.
Regardless of Carolina’s slow start, which is daunting to the team’s confidence, it’s what they’re used to. Panthers in their 2021-2022 season were scorching under Sam Darnold, winning their first three games, losing four straight afterward. Three of those were close, like the Panthers Week One and Week Two games.
Darnold finished last season with nine touchdowns to 13 interceptions, with a 38.8 QBR. Although Baker is a slight upgrade from Sam Darnold, the offense can’t win games with either QB.
How bad is Carolina’s offense?
The Panthers are last in the league on third down conversions, 12 of 47, 25.5 percent. The team is also last in total yards, 1049, and tied for last in offensive touchdowns, four.
If the Panthers want to improve, they have to convert third downs. The offensive line has to give Baker enough time to give the ball to his receiving core, DJ Moore, WR; Robbie Anderson, WR; Laviska Shenault Jr, WR; and Ian Thomas, TE. Or he can give the ball to his safety valve Christian McCaffrey, RB, who scored Panthers lone offensive touchdown last week.
Mayfield’s performance issues on the field are vast. He has been off-throwing the ball behind receivers, leading to picks.
As far as time, Baker’s timing has been off, and the offensive line hasn’t given him much help, allowing him to get sacked 11 times but compared to the 2021 offensive line the unit has much improved.
The last time Baker faced the Niners was in 2019, where he got sacked four times, completing eight of his 22 pass attempts, throwing for 100 yards and two ints. With Baker’s slow start to the season, he hopes to keep his job after Week Five matchup against the 49er’s stout defense.
Rhule is looking to do the same, or his future as the Panthers head coach may potentially be in jeopardy. With a road trip to face the LA Rams coming in Week Six, Rhule must start winning and fast.