Matt Rhule has won just eight games in two seasons as head coach of the Carolina Panthers, and now there are some questions about just how committed he is to staying in the NFL.
Joel Klatt, the college football analyst for FOX Sports, reported Wednesday on “The Herd” that he has been told that Rhule “is not all the way in on the NFL moving forward” and could potentially return to the college ranks.
The timing here is no coincidence as there are many attractive opportunities at marquee college programs right now. LSU and USC are among the teams looking for a new head coach. The Penn State job could open up as well if coach James Franklin decides to take one of the above-mentioned gigs.
The 46-year-old Rhule rose to prominence in the college ranks as the head coach of both Temple and Baylor. He is also an alum of Penn State. Rhule’s time in Carolina had not gone particularly well either. The Panthers are on a current four-game losing streak, and Rhule has been the target of criticism. There will certainly be options available for Rhule if he decides that an NFL head coaching job is not all that it is made out to be.
Photo: Feb 25, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule speaks during the NFL Scouting Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
If you want to find someone who is a big Dak Prescott fan, look no further than Matt Rhule.
Rhule’s 3-0 Carolina Panthers will visit Prescott’s 2-1 Dallas Cowboys in Week 4 on Sunday. Rhule on Wednesday talked about the Cowboys and singled out Prescott as a source of compliments.
Rhule said the Cowboys’ offense begins with Prescott, whom he compared to Peyton Manning and Drew Brees with how well he is operating.
Those are some serious compliments. And Rhule noted the stats back it up; Prescott is the second-fastest QB this season in getting the ball out of his hand.
Through three games, Prescott has passed for 878 yards, six touchdown passes and two interceptions this season. His 77.5 completion percentage leads the league.
Rhule will be trying to put a dent into those stats on Sunday.
The Carolina Panthers put together an impressive showing in their season opener against the New York Jets on Sunday, but it didn’t take fans long to question a decision from head coach Matt Rhule.
Some boos could be heard at Bank of America Stadium when Rhule opted to punt early in the game. Fans typically boo punts because they want the home team to go for it on fourth down, but in this instance they probably would have been happy with a field goal. The Panthers were at the Jets’ 33-yard line, after all.
You’ll almost never see a punt from that spot on the field in the NFL. Rhule obviously didn’t like Ryan Santoso’s chances of converting a 51-yard field goal. Though, it should also be noted that Jets punter Braden Mann suffered an injury early in the game, so Rhule may have been playing a field position strategy. It didn’t help that the punt went 18 yards.
The Panthers won 19-14, which is all that matters. Still, punting from your opponent’s 33-yard line is typically not a recipe for success in the NFL. Rhule probably shouldn’t make a habit of it.
Matt Rhule responded on Wednesday to some criticism from Teddy Bridgewater.
Bridgewater was traded by Carolina to Denver this offseason as the Panthers move on to Sam Darnold. He spent just one season with the Panthers.
During a podcast appearance that was published on Wednesday, Bridgewater talked about his time in Carolina. He took ownership of his poor performance as the Panthers’ quarterback. But he also was critical of some of the team’s practice processes. Specifically, he questioned the little amount of time spent practicing red zone and 2-minute situations.
Rhule responded by taking the high road.
That’s nice that Rhule will not publicly be critical of Bridgewater. Rhule responded well.
In truth, Rhule should use Bridgewater’s comments as a moment to reflect. Rhule was in his first year as the Panthers’ head coach after coming from the college game at Baylor. It’s possible that he took it too easy on his players, and that may have hurt the team.
The Carolina Panthers are making it clear that they’re putting all their chips in with Sam Darnold for 2021.
The Panthers traded for Darnold last month, signaling their intent to make him their starting quarterback. There was some thinking that the team might be tempted to select a top quarterback in the NFL Draft if one fell to them at No. 8. Instead, the Panthers selected defensive back Jaycee Horn, despite both Justin Fields and Mac Jones remaining on the board.
In an appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule made clear that the Panthers did what they did because of their full faith in Darnold.
“I love those guys and I think they’re gonna be great NFL players. I just think for us, when we got Sam and knowing he’s 23-years-old, just turned 24, we just felt like Sam plus another player would be better for the team overall,” Rhule said, via Grant Gordon of NFL.com. “We’re just trying to build the whole team and I just believe in Sam, I believe that he deserves the opportunity to go out and play with us.
“I think those other young quarterbacks are gonna be fantastic players, but the hit rate on first-round quarterbacks isn’t real, real high, and to have a chance to get Jaycee Horn and have Sam Darnold, we just kind of felt like, ‘Hey this is two for one.’ Now, we just have to make sure Sam’s a great player for us.”
Rhule makes good points, and it’s easy to take this as a suggestion that the Panthers simply weren’t sold on Fields or Jones. Darnold may be more of a sure thing in their minds.
Some people read a lot into the Panthers holding off on picking up Darnold’s fifth-year option, but it turned out to be meaningless. The team ended up doing so after the draft, and it’s pretty clear they’re going to be putting a lot of faith in the former New York Jet in 2021.
Thomas Fletcher probably was not expecting to be drafted this year. Instead, he was probably expecting to sign with a team as an undrafted free agent.
But that changed on Saturday, and the news left him stunned.
According to Fletcher, who was the long snapper at Alabama, he was on the phone with another team about signing as an undrafted free agent.
Then he got a phone call from Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule. Check out this awesome exchange:
How great is that? Fletcher thought he was being called about coming in as an undrafted free agent. Instead, he got the great news that he was drafted.
Fletcher went in the sixth round, No. 222 overall. Two long snappers were taken in the sixth round, so he actually had some company.
Fletcher won the Patrick Mannelly Award as the best long snapper in the country at Alabama. He’s looking to continue that success into the pros.
There have been some reports this offseason that the Carolina Panthers are looking to upgrade at the quarterback position, but head coach Matt Rhule insists the team is perfectly content with what they have.
Rhule was asked by reporters on Wednesday where things currently stand with Teddy Bridgewater. He had high praise for the quarterback.
“Teddy is a tremendous professional and Teddy is a tremendous person,” Rhule said, per Jonathan M. Alexander of the Charlotte Observer. “I think he is controlling what he can control. … He’s our quarterback and nothing has changed since the end of the offseason.”
The Panthers were reportedly one of several teams that tried to trade for Matthew Stafford before he was sent to the Los Angeles Rams. Bridgewater unfollowed the Panthers on social media not long after that. Rhule was asked about that on Wednesday, and his response was fairly predictable.
“I wouldn’t read too much into anything,” he said.
A lot could still happen during the offseason, and there is one team that is said to have interest in acquiring Bridgewater. In all likelihood, however, he will remain Carolina’s starting quarterback heading into 2021.
The Panthers got off to a hot start last year before fading down the stretch. Bridgewater finished with 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 15 games. Rhule will certainly be hoping for more from him if he does remain the team’s starter.
The Carolina Panthers need a general manager, but the head coach emphasized that he won’t be the one filling the role.
When asked about possibly taking over the GM role from fired Marty Hurney, Panthers coach Matt Rhule made clear that he had no interest in the position and shot down speculation quickly.
“I do not want to be the GM. As clearly as I can say that,” Rhule said Monday, via Joseph Person of The Athletic.
The combined coach/GM model is one that a few franchises have embraced in recent years. While there are exceptions, it hasn’t worked out all that well. It makes even less sense for Rhule, who has only been an NFL head coach for one season and doesn’t have the track record or resume that would suggest he deserves an expanded portfolio.
Some quotes from ownership raised questions about Rhule’s role in running the Panthers. It seems he wants to be an advisor, though, not the man in charge.
The early reviews on new Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule seem to be very positive.
Safety Tre Boston has already been won over by the new coach, saying Rhule has won the team over and set himself up to be successful.
“I think this guy has an edge to him. I think he has a certain ‘it’ that coaches have to have,” Boston told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on the Rapsheet + Friends podcast, via Grant Gordon of NFL.com. “I’m excited to see him more in person with the guys, because right now, I think he started with a nice lead because he has a nice momentum going in between how he’s treated us, how he’s respected us, how he respects our time. That means a lot to professionals and men, adults, as well. So, I think Rhule has set himself up for success with his men. We trust him. We believe in him. And when we get together, it’s all about building chemistry and knowing that we are the Carolina Panthers and we’re gonna do what it takes to win ballgames around here.”
That’s a pretty ringing endorsement for a first-year head coach, especially when the players really haven’t met him in person yet. Still, Rhule does come with a pedigree. He’s been very successful at the college level, taking over Temple and Baylor at low points and turning them both into winners. That should serve him well in the jump up to the NFL level, as he’s shown he can handle adversity and win over players before.
If Boston is right, Rhule has won over his players. One question now is whether he’ll have the same level of trust from his front office, especially after what reportedly happened during the Panthers’ NFL Draft.
The Carolina Panthers made a big splash in free agency by signing Teddy Bridgewater to be their quarterback, and their new head coach seems very happy with the move.
Matt Rhule, who is entering his first year as Carolina’s head coach, raved about Bridgewater’s leadership during an interview on “Around The NFL” Friday.
“The best players in the world bring out the best in their teammates and I can tell you, since free agency started, the amount of the guys that want to come and play with Teddy has nothing to do with me or anybody else,” Rhule said. “They want to be a part of what he’s doing ’cause he brings out the best in the people.”
Carolina signed Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million deal in March and believes he will be their next franchise quarterback.
The 27-year-old was originally drafted by Minnesota but suffered a devastating leg injury that caused him to miss all of the 2016 season. He spent the last two seasons with the Saints and excelled when he got opportunities to start last season. Bridgewater went 5-0 as a starter for New Orleans last year, passing for nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He will be replacing Cam Newton as the team’s franchise quarterback.