The Carolina Panthers were among the best teams at the start of the 2021 NFL season. They won their first three games and many were predicting they would reach the playoffs. However, fast-forward to today, and it is evident those predictions were wide off the mark.
The Panthers won just two of the rest of the games they played this season, and now reports of unhappy players and dressing room discord are emerging. According to Joseph Person from The Athletic, people in high places in the Carolina franchise feel that coach Matt Rhule is not doing what he was brought in and paid to do.
Panthers Owner Far from Happy with Rhule
According to Person, David Tepper, the Panthers owner, regrets giving Rhule a seven-year contract. The former Temple University coach was brought to Carolina in 2020 after impressing at Temple and Baylor. He was even given a massive US$62 million contract. The fact that the New York Giants were interested in his services didn’t help lower that figure.
Will Get Another Season, But Has A Lot of Work Ahead
With Rhule being on a seven-year US$62 million contract, it is not easy for Tepper to decide what to do next, and it is even more difficult to tell him to leave. So, according to The Athletic, the US$16 billion hedge fund manager at the helm of the Carolina Panthers is willing to give Rhule another season to right the wrongs.
A vote of confidence from the owner might help Rhule in the short term, but he is probably aware that there are a lot of things that need fixing. And some of them are very close to home.
Reportedly, Rhule is a micromanager that likes to have complete control over everything that happens on and off the field. The coaching staff that surrounds him and that he assembled is also an issue for some players who feel Rhule’s assistants and coordinators have no NFL experience, so players are not so sure about the success of Rhule’s “process”.
Weak Offense and Tired Defense
And it’s easy to see why some players would doubt Rhule’s methods. The Panthers finished 5-11 in 2020, and they had Teddy Bridge as quarterback then. Their record this year is the same, even though they brought Sam Darnold and Cam Newton (after Darnold got injured in Week 9) to play at quarterback.
The Panthers’ defense is the only positive in Matt Rhule’s tenure, but it was that way before he took over too. In fact, because the Panthers’ offensive line cannot catch a break, their defense has played so often that it is evident that fatigue is creeping in.
If the Panthers continue to play like this next season, they would have the same problems and perform poorly in both the defensive and offensive departments. That would almost certainly result in Rhule getting shipped out.
There’s no doubt that the 2022 NFL season will be the last chance saloon for Rhule. However, with an unhappy owner on his back and some palpable dressing room discord to resolve, Matt Rhule has quite the task ahead of him.