4 takeaways from Panthers owner David Tepper’s first presser since 2020

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper /
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Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Matt Rhule /

David Tepper is still very high on Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold and HC Matt Rhule

Whether it was smoke or not, David Tepper didn’t shy away from praising the two most controversial pieces on the Carolina Panthers right now.

Tepper provided praise for quarterback Sam Darnold, who performed poorly after the team traded for him last year, and head coach Matt Rhule, who many fans have made it known that they want to be fired.

When Rhule was hired, Tepper gave him a seven-year contract worth $62 million and also allocated the former Baylor man the final say on personnel moves. Despite little success two years in, the owner remains optimistic about his leadership and the coaching staff he has built this offseason.

Tepper said Rhule and general manager Scott Fitterer put a great foundation in place and that if some injuries and different circumstances didn’t take place, the team wouldn’t have been as bad as they were the last two years.

"“I believe in Matt. He has my full support. I do think we have made improvements in the coaching staff; we have done a good job during free agency to fill holes. Obviously, we have some needs, and we’re going to try to attempt to fill some of those in the draft. I’m fairly optimistic about the new season given all the different things that have happened here.”"

That might just be Tepper trying to silence fans. But this still feels like a make-it-or-break-it year for Rhule.

With Darnold, Tepper reiterated what Fitterer said on Tuesday, that the team has a plan to look at quarterbacks but he thinks they have a “very good” one in Darnold.

Looking at Darnold’s stats, that doesn’t line up.