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#pounditSaturday, June 25, 2022

Articles tagged: Matt Rhule

Panthers coach has incredibly low expectations for Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold throwing a pass

Aug 21, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) warms up before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers tentatively plan to start Sam Darnold at quarterback this season, but it certainly does not sound like they are expecting much from him.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule had a remarkably low set of expectations for Darnold when speaking Wednesday. Rhule said his goal with Darnold is simply to minimize “catastrophic” mistakes and turnovers.

“It’s the National Football League and you are going to have interceptions, but we don’t want three-interception games or four-interception games,” Rhule said, via Steve Reed of the Associated Press. “That can’t happen routinely, and it can’t happen because we are being careless with the football.”

Rhule isn’t even asking Darnold to sharpen his throws or guide the Panthers to the playoffs, though he’d surely love that. It’s a pretty strong indictment of the quarterback that the big worry entering his fifth season is simply to cut down on catastrophic turnovers. The quarterback turned the ball over 17 times in 2021, so it’s certainly a justified focus.

Darnold, for his part, remains incredibly confident in his own abilities. The Panthers just don’t seem to share that confidence right now.

Report: Matt Rhule struggled to add assistant coaches for 1 key reason

Matt Rhule in Panthers gear

The Carolina Panthers retained coach Matt Rhule for the 2022 season, but the rumors about his long-term job security have already reportedly taken a toll in one key manner.

Rhule retooled his coaching staff after a dismal 2021 season, but this was apparently no easy effort. In an appearance on FOX Sports Upstate’s “Game On! with Richmond and John” Friday, Joseph Person of The Athletic reported that Rhule struggled to land coveted coaching targets due to the perception around the NFL that the Panthers coach may not last beyond the 2022 season.

“There were coaches on staff, there were coaches that Matt Rhule wanted to bring in here and talk to like a Thomas McGaughey and a Pep Hamilton, that viewed this situation as a lame duck situation and didn’t want any part of it. That’s why we’ve seen three assistants leave,” Person said.

The hesitancy is understandable. There have been a lot of reports that cast Rhule as being firmly on the hot seat. If he stands a decent chance of being fired after 2022, there is not a lot of reason for an assistant to move their family to Charlotte for a job they may only hold for a year. Add in the fact that there is little support from the fanbase and it’s not a situation many would want to walk into if there are other options.

Photo: Aug 27, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

NFL coach could have interest in replacing Jim Harbaugh at Michigan?

Jim Harbaugh in sunglasses

If Jim Harbaugh leaves Michigan to return to the NFL, the Wolverines will reportedly have strong interest from a pretty big name.

Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule would be interested in the Michigan job should it become available, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. It is unclear whether that interest would be mutual, and it’s worth noting that Rhule has no ties to the university.

Rhule has apparently had his eye on college jobs for a while, as he reportedly looked at the Penn State job before it became clear that James Franklin would stay put there. He also may have reportedly pushed for the LSU job had the school been more interested.

These reports certainly suggest that Rhule is looking for a route out of the NFL and back to the college game, where he was much more successful. He had success at both Temple and Baylor, but is just 10-23 in two seasons with the Panthers. The feeling might be mutual, and Carolina’s owner might be very pleased at the chance to get out from under Rhule’s contract.

Of course, Harbaugh would have to make the jump to the NFL for any of this to be relevant. The Michigan coach might be open to making that move, but there is nothing concrete so far.

Photo: Nov 16, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts during the second half against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Video: Matt Rhule had cringeworthy response to Sam Darnold question

Matt Rhule in Panthers gear

The Carolina Panthers understandably don’t have much confidence in Sam Darnold heading into 2022, and Matt Rhule was barely able to hide that while speaking with reporters on Monday.

After the Panthers acquired Darnold in a trade with the New York Jets last year, they immediately showed how committed they were to him by not drafting a quarterback and picking up the fifth-year option on Darnold’s rookie contract. A reporter asked Rhule on Monday why the Panthers were so quick to commit to Darnold beyond 2021. Rhule tried his best to say the right things, but he seemed totally caught off guard.

“(We were) bringing him here to be the starter,” Rhule said. “Knowing that if he had a great year he would be a high-priced guy, and if he’s a starter at that number that’s low-end starter money. It was a collective decision.”

The thinking made sense at the time. Teams have until early May before a player’s fourth season year to decide whether they want to exercise the fifth-year option. Carolina was obviously optimistic that the Darnold trade would work out, and they felt the risk of guaranteeing him nearly $19 million in 2022 was worth the potential reward.

Rhule gave Darnold a chance to prove himself over the final three games of the season, and the 24-year-old continued to struggle. It’s hard to imagine the Panthers sticking with Darnold as their starter heading into 2022. If they do, it may not be long before the unflattering chants we heard from Carolina fans start back up.

Photo: Aug 27, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Panthers have made decision on Matt Rhule

Matt Rhule in Panthers gear

The Carolina Panthers have a made a decision regarding head coach Matt Rhule, according to a report.

ESPN’s David Newton reported on Saturday that the Panthers will bring Rhule back for the 2022 NFL season.

Rhule is completing his second season as Carolina’s head coach. The team went 5-11 last season and is 5-11 this year. There has been speculation that Rhule is on the hot seat, and even some rumors that Carolina’s owner has buyer’s remorse.

However, it seems like they are ready to let Rhule have a third season. They should.

The Panthers’ front office hasn’t given Rhule a ton to work with so far. They had Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback last season and Sam Darnold this season. Absent a franchise quarterback, we don’t see much improving for Carolina next season, meaning Rhule might not make it past his third season.

Carolina already made one significant coach firing and it seems like that will be it for now.

Photo: Aug 27, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Panthers owner has major regrets about Matt Rhule contract

Matt Rhule in Panthers gear

The Carolina Panthers appear poised to keep Matt Rhule for the 2022 season, but that does not mean they are satisfied with the job he is doing.

Rhule’s contract appears to be a significant source of buyer’s remorse for the top of the Carolina organization. Panthers owner David Tepper is “unhappy and embarrassed” by the contract he gave Rhule prior to the 2020 season, according to Joseph Person of The Athletic. Tepper gave Rhule a seven-year, $62 million deal to fend off interest from the New York Giants, a contract that now looks enormously undeserved.

That contract may be what saves Rhule and buys him a third year. The report states that Tepper still intends to give Rhule another season to try to salvage the coach’s tenure in Carolina.

Talk of Rhule coming back will not make Panthers fans happy based on their reaction during last week’s loss. Perhaps things will improve if Carolina can get a legitimate starting quarterback in the fold for 2022. For Tepper, this may be a lesson about overpaying for a head coach like Rhule who came in untested and unproven at the NFL level.

Photo: Aug 27, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers fans chant to fire Matt Rhule during blowout loss

Matt Rhule in Panthers gear

The Carolina Panthers on Sunday lost their fifth consecutive game, and their fans were not happy about it.

Not only did Panthers fans boo amid the team’s 32-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they also chanted for Matt Rhule’s job.

You can hear the “Fire Rhule” chants in this video:

Despite his team’s losing and lousy showing on Sunday, Rhule believes the Panthers are headed in the right direction.

Rhule just believes Carolina needs some time. He also has a good attitude about the booing.

The Panthers’ biggest problem is the same as it is for most struggling teams in the NFL: they don’t have a quarterback. They didn’t have a good quarterback when Rhule took the job, and Sam Darnold isn’t the answer either. Absent a franchise QB, there won’t be any consistent winning in Carolina.

Photo: Aug 27, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Rhule hints at plan for Sam Darnold return

Sam Darnold panthers

The Carolina Panthers will have Sam Darnold available against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, and coach Matt Rhule hinted that he has a role in mind for the quarterback.

The Panthers have primarily relied on Cam Newton since his signing, with Darnold out since Week 9 due to a shoulder injury. Rhule made clear that Newton will again draw the start on Sunday, but that Darnold will see some reps.

Rhule had an interesting explanation for his decision: he said he wants Darnold to get the chance to show what he can do and reclaim the role of an NFL starter.

Most will ask what the point of this is. At this point, Darnold’s NFL stock is pretty clear. The 24-year-old is in his fourth NFL season and has not shown consistent high-level ability. He has not always been in good situations, but he hasn’t looked any better with Carolina than he did in New York. The Panthers seem to know that, and it’s why they were consistently linked to another quarterback for much of the year.

On the other hand, Rhule has demonstrated a whole lot of belief in Darnold. Maybe he’s determined to give Darnold every chance he possibly can.

Matt Rhule on hot seat amid Panthers’ struggles?

Matt Rhule at a press conference

The Carolina Panthers surprisingly fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady on Sunday, and there is chatter that the firing could be the prelude to a bigger move.

Speculation grew Monday that the Panthers may be losing patience with second-year head coach Matt Rhule. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said on Monday’s “PFT Live” that he’d heard from a league source that Rhule may be the next Panthers coach to lose his job.

Rhule being fired would be a surprise, but so was Brady’s firing.

Carolina had lured Brady from LSU, and he was in high demand when he joined the Panthers. That made it surprising to see him lose his job after less than two full seasons.

The same would be true of firing Rhule. His 10-18 record so far is unimpressive, but the organization paid him an enormous sum of money to leave Baylor and move to the NFL. One would think they would really want to avoid admitting to failure there this quickly.

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

Matt Rhule not committing to Sam Darnold after ugly loss

Sam Darnold panthers

Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule has staunchly supported quarterback Sam Darnold all season, but that support may be eroding.

Rhule was noticeably non-committal Sunday when asked if he believes Darnold is the quarterback that gives the Panthers the best chance to win. Rhule said he had to “watch the tape” and praised Darnold’s preparation and toughness, but admitted he needed to see better decisions.

“I’ll watch the tape before I make some big statement. To be quite honest, I want to make sure I see everything and consider all factors,” Rhule said, via Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports. “I know Sam prepared hard. I thought he went out there and I thought he showed toughness. He gritted to the end so I don’t want to lay anything at his feet.

“We can’t have a quarterback throwing the ball up in the air. He knows that. I know that. Whether we have to get with the coaches and figure out is it the coaching, is it him, what is it? We just can’t keep doing this. But I have to see everything before I can probably answer that better.”

That hardly counts as a ringing endorsement, but Darnold doesn’t deserve one. He went just 16-for-33 for 172 yards and threw three interceptions in a 24-6 loss to New England. Things were rough enough that his own teammates were ripping into him on the sideline.

Rhule has demonstrated a huge amount of faith in Darnold in the past. So far, that faith has not been rewarded. The Panthers may have no choice but to look elsewhere going forward.