It’s finally over Panthers fans. The Carolina Panthers parted ways with Head Coach Matt Rhule on Monday ending a torrid reign as head coach.
Adam Schefter of ESPN broke the news Monday Morning that the Panthers had parted ways with head coach Matt Rhule. In just over two seasons with the team, Rhule had a record of 11-27 and the team showed little improvement as they limped to a 1-4 start to begin the 2022 season.
Rhule’s final game in charge was an embarrassing 37-15 home defeat at the hands of the 49ers. The game was played in a half-empty Bank Of America Stadium with the majority of fans in attendance wearing 49er red. This was a clear indication of how fans were feeling about the Matt Rhule-led Panthers.
Tepper had preached patience on numerous occasions with NFL insider Ian’s Rapoport reporting that Tepper wouldn’t make a rash decision. It’s clear to see that Week Five was the last straw, one would imagine Tepper was watching from his box yesterday not happy with what was happening in the field or in the stands.
What Next For The Panthers
Moving forward, defensive backs coach Steve Wilks will be the interim coach for the Panthers with his first task being a trip to face the Super Bowl Champion LA Rams. Wilks has previous head coaching experience a season coaching the Arizona Cardinals in which Wilks was certainly given a rough deal with Josh Rosen as his QB. Wilks was fired after one season and Arizona hired Cliff Kingsbury as his replacement another coach potentially on the hot seat.
With Wilks now in interim charge, it remains to be seen what will happen with the three coordinators all hired by Rhule. Phil Snow followed Rhule from college to the NFL so don’t be surprised to see him join Rhule if he gets a college job. The Panthers will be keen to keep Chris Tabor around, the new ST coordinator has turned around a Panthers unit that had struggled under the previous coach Chase Blackburn.
Ben McAdoo is the coach with his job mostly on the line, despite having previous head coaching experience those in power decided that Wilks would lead the team on an interim basis. McAdoo’s offense has been stagnant and arguably the worst in the league this season so don’t be surprised to see McAdoo shown the door in the near future.
Wilks now has 12 games to show the Panthers hierarchy what he can do as a head coach and throw his name in the hat. With a litany of young coordinators shining in their respective roles despite owner David Tepper stating he would go for someone with NFL experience.
The Panthers saw one of those exciting young coordinators this past week. 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans was in town on Sunday as his unit completely shut down the Panthers’ offense. Ryan is already garnering talk as a potential head coaching candidate and he is a name that the Panthers may look at. Another popular name is Bills OC Ken Dorsey, Carolina has connections in Buffalo, current Head Coach Sean McDermott was Carolina’s defensive Coordinator between 2011-2016. Current Bills GM Brandon Beane also spent time in Carolina holding various front office positions between 1998-2016.
This is already looking to be a huge offseason for General Manager Scott Fitterer, this will give Fitterer the opportunity and pick his first head coach and potentially draft a quarterback in the first round, (the Panthers currently hold the first overall pick). If Fitterer fails to find either a long-term answer at Head Coach or Quarterback he may be the next out the door.
What Next For Rhule
In terms of Matt Rhule, he leaves at a time with some big college jobs available. One imagines the man who turned around programs at Temple and Baylor will be in high demand, and with jobs available at Arizona State, Nebraska and Wisconsin don’t be surprised to see Rhule take one of those jobs.
There’s no shame in Rhule moving back to the NCAA, while he seemed a good person and clearly popular in the dressing room but the results simply weren’t there. Nick Saban arguably the greatest ever college coach failed to make it in the NFL and one expects Rhule will head back to college and forge a successful coaching career. And while he has lost his job, Rhule is owed $40 million on his remaining contract with the Panthers, I think he’ll do just fine.
Moving forward there is hope amongst Panthers fans that a new more prosperous time is ahead, the Panthers have some talent on both sides of the ball, but early indications are that the Panthers may start to stockpile assets and start a full rebuild.