Matt Rhule has got the Carolina Panthers believing again

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Matt Rhule
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Matt Rhule /

Matt Rhule’s start to life with the Carolina Panthers has got everyone believing again.

The Carolina Panthers are currently riding on the crest of a wave. Their two straight defeats to start the 2020 season now seem like a distant memory and there are high hopes for a young and ever-improving roster going forward.

Things didn’t exactly get off to the best of starts for new head coach Matt Rhule. The Carolina Panthers gave him a seven-year, $60 million deal this offseason thanks to a strong reputation of building up college programs back to prominence. But a severely disrupted preparation period and no preseason games due to COVID-19 health concerns meant that expectations were at an all-time low.

The writing looked on the wall for the Panthers after losing to the Raiders and Buccaneers. However, this group is made of stern stuff and the progress they’ve made during a three-game winning streak has swung momentum completely in the opposite direction.

Matt Rhule has turned the Carolina Panthers around.

Rhule deserves a significant amount of credit for this turnaround. He has got each member of the roster buying into his way of thinking, has made the adjustments needed to get the most out of his players, and seems to be the leader Carolina has been lacking after things went stagnant under previous head coach Ron Rivera.

The coach is working hard to temper expectations after the national media is now fully on board with what is transpiring with the Panthers. They are already emerging as one of the NFL’s surprise packages in 2020 and the most eye-catching element of all is that this level of play was not expected until later on in the campaign.

The NFL is a fickle world, and all it would take is defeats to the Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs to get those who questioned Carolina’s decisions in the spring to get their knives back out. Keeping the bigger picture in mind will remain prevalent throughout the season. But it is hard not to be encouraged by what the team has shown through five weeks of the campaign.

At the very least, Rhule has got the Panthers believing again.

Despite not having any NFL coaching experience prior to this appointment, it is clear that Rhule has earned the respect of his playing staff. They are completely on-board with what sort of ethos he is installing in Carolina and it might just result in a shock playoff berth with one extra spot available in an NFC conference that is lacking in quality outside of perhaps three teams.

The Panthers are way ahead of schedule. But there is plenty of work still to be done if they want to become a prominent postseason challenger in the not-too-distant future.

Nobody will know this more than Rhule, who has achieved plenty of notoriety during his time at Temple and Baylor in a similar situation.

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Excitement is definitely building, which is proof positive that owner David Tepper made the right hire. It’s easy to get carried away after five games. But considering what everyone thought the Panthers would be in 2020, the future looks incredibly bright under their progressive young head coach.