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#pounditTuesday, January 31, 2023

Matt Rhule offers interesting take on what went wrong with Panthers

Matt Rhule at his first Nebraska press conference

Nov 28, 2022; Omaha, Nebraska, US; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule speaks at the introductory press conference at the Hawks Championship Center on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Rhule’s tenure with the Carolina Panthers will ultimately be viewed as a failure, but the coach clearly feels he was not given a fair shot to prove he can win in the NFL.

Rhule spoke about his tenure with the Panthers during an appearance on “The Season with Peter Schrager” podcast that was released on Tuesday. He was asked if there is anything about his two-plus seasons in the NFL that he would change if he could start over. Rhule candidly said he would have taken a job with a team other than the Panthers. The reason for that is he felt Carolina sold him on at least a four-year plan and then pulled the plug after less than three.

“I think I probably would have taken another job. It’s a great place with wonderful people, but I just don’t know if I was a fit there,” Rhule said. “We talked about having a four-year or five-year plan. If you tell me we’ve got a two-year plan, then I’m gonna go sign a bunch of free agents and do it. What was a four-year plan became a two-year-and-five-game plan real quick.”

Rhule added that he is “not angry” with the Panthers over the way things ended. However, he emphasized how he would have been far more aggressive in free agency and on the trade market had he known Carolina wanted to win sooner.

“I understand, but if it’s gonna be that quick then we’re gonna sign some more free agents. We’re gonna go make the blockbuster trades,” Rhule said. “I think the trajectory that we were on was correct. It was to have a team that next year could maybe make a big trade.”

You can hear more of Rhule’s comments below:

The biggest issue for the Panthers was that Rhule, who had final say over roster decisions, made multiple failed attempts to resolve the team’s quarterback situation. The Panthers traded for both Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield, and neither deal panned out. Rhule could argue that Carolina did not keep him around long enough to see whether Matt Corral could develop into a viable NFL starter, but the team obviously felt there was not enough progress.

Rhule has a point about being fired too quickly. Bad NFL teams have a tendency to expect immediate results when they bring in a new coach, and it usually takes several seasons to rebuild. Many coaches are not given enough time to turn things around after they inherit a losing roster.

In any event, things worked out nicely for Rhule. His 11-27 record with the Panthers did nothing to hurt his reputation at the collegiate level. Rhule’s new contract with Nebraska is evidence of that.

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