Matt Rhule lays down the gauntlet to starters after poor showing

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Matt Rhule
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Matt Rhule /

Matt Rhule has laid down the gauntlet to his starting unit with the Carolina Panthers after a poor showing at practice.

To say that head coach Matt Rhule was displeased with his starting group after Friday’s practice would be something of an understatement. The Carolina Panthers took the field at Bank of America Stadium for a game-type situation, which did not bring the sort of quality needed when they take the field Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders.

It was a wake-up call in no uncertain terms. The starting unit was reportedly devoid of any real energy, according to Rhule. This is not exactly ideal for the Carolina Panthers heading into the new season and the former Baylor coach made it abundantly clear that things will need to improve considerably in the coming days ahead of their return to competitive action.

Things must improve for the Carolina Panthers, and quickly.

Rhule did not see the necessary application from those occupying starting positions. If things do not improve, and quickly, things could get ugly for the Panthers in 2020.

He made his feelings known in no uncertain terms. This was probably the best time to see a performance like this with the season just about to get underway. But substantial improvements will be needed in a short space of time if they want to stand any chance of surprising those who have already labeled them as also-rans.

"“We did not play like a team that was excited to be out there completely at the starters’ level. I think the starters would all tell you that. It was not the requisite energy level to play at a high level, and that’s something we’ll have to learn from. I was not overly pleased with the starters, which obviously always then goes back to the coaching staff and myself. I don’t know if it’s just guys wanting to get to a game week. I just didn’t feel like it was fast enough or crisp enough with the starters.“If you want to have great moments, you have to have some bad moments that you learn from. I thought as they got into it, they got better. But we just don’t want to be a team that picks and chooses when we play. We want it to be like you can’t tell if we’re winning by 20 or losing by 20 when you see us play. That’s truly playing the game at the purest form.”"

This was a sentiment that was echoed by wide receiver Curtis Samuel. The former Ohio State standout also spoke with the media after the practice and was of the belief that the roster felt the same as their coach regarding their level of productivity and effort at Bank of America Stadium.

"“I feel like it starts within ourselves. We have to be in a mindset of trying to go out there and win a game. We’ve got to understand that we’ve got to build our own energy. It’s not about the crowd. It’s not about nobody else. It’s about us when we get on that field doing a job we love to do. Fans, no fans, preseason, no preseason, we know we’ve got to get our minds right and have that juice, have that energy and go out there and play the game.”"

It is hard to look at this any other way than disappointing. The Panthers have low expectations on their shoulders next season. But if the effort is not there, then it has the potential to have catastrophic ramifications.

Things are going to look far different across the NFL in 2020 as COVID-19 precautions rightfully take precedent over financial gains. It will be up to each player to motivate themselves without an atmosphere in the stands and whatever team does this better will have an undoubted edge during the campaign.

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Rhule will be hoping that his roster can learn from this and adjust accordingly. But time is now of the essence.