Did Matt Rhule just bet his job on Panthers QB Sam Darnold?
What if it all goes wrong?
If the Sam Darnold experiment fails and the Carolina Panthers are forced to go back to square one in their search for a long-term signal-caller, the implications could be significant. Fired general manager Marty Hurney might be carrying the can for the Teddy Bridgewater signing, but there is absolutely no doubt the move did not get signed off without the approval of Matt Rhule.
The same applies to Darnold.
Rhule is getting a big and powerful say in personnel decisions. So another swing and a miss would potentially result in three different starting quarterbacks in as many years for the head coach.
Another thing to consider is Darnold’s failure would undoubtedly lead to yet another losing record. Team owner David Tepper has been incredibly patient since purchasing the Panthers from Jerry Richardson. But after finally getting his men of choice in place, now he’ll want to start seeing a return on his investment.
Carolina gave Rhule a seven-year, $60 million deal to prise him away from Baylor. This was done with a long-term project in mind, but there is no getting away from the fact the head coach would find himself on the hot seat if his belief in Darnold doesn’t pan out as expected.
The stakes just got a lot higher for Rhule. What comes next is going to be nothing short of fascinating and the long-term future of the franchise depends on it.