How much longer can Matt Rhule keep his job as Carolina Panthers head coach after a disappointing start to the 2022 season?
This is not the start Matt Rhule had in mind.
Two straight losses to begin the campaign against weakened opposition has piled more pressure on the head coach. Rhule’s seat was hot before a competitive down was played, but the Carolina Panthers fanbase is now extremely restless after entering the season with some optimism following a decent period of recruitment.
Sunday’s clash at the New York Giants was the same old story. The Panthers defense made real improvements from a lackluster Week 1 showing, but the offense was once again found wanting with red zone inefficiency, failing to convert third downs, and not coming through in the clutch.
Rhule now has a 10-25 record since replacing Ron Rivera on a seven-year, $62 million deal. Carolina has the league’s longest losing streak with nine games and hasn’t tasted success since Cam Newton’s sensational return in Week 10 at the Arizona Cardinals last season.
Carolina Panthers have been in terrible form under Matt Rhule
Just where the Panthers go from here is anyone’s guess. Their schedule appears extremely difficult over the next few weeks, with playoff contenders and a tricky trip to the defending Super Bowl champions all on the immediate horizon.
Rhule took responsibility for not putting his players in a position to win down the stretch. But in all honesty, fans are getting tired of empty words and nothing changing when it comes to the crunch.
"“Obviously for our guys that’s two games in a row where we’ve come down to the very end with a chance to win the game and come up short both times. I take full responsibility for that. That’s my job, that falls on me. I have to help these guys find a way to make just one more play and win the game.”"
Tepper was confident in Rhule’s ability when he spoke just before the draft. While that perception might have altered, it’ll be a big call to end his first appointment just three years into a contract that reportedly drew ire from other owners.
Tepper is a proud man. Admitting he was wrong and starting from scratch with no cap space and little draft capital in 2023 would be the biggest indictment yet on his tenure so far.
One thing Rhule still has going for him is support within the locker room. Everyone seems to be pulling in the same direction, but Tepper’s recent history suggests that if player dissension arrives, that might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Tepper was quick to remove Charlotte FC head coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez once reports started emerging about player unhappiness. So if results don’t improve for the Panthers and murmurings of discontent follow, that might be enough.
How quickly this happens, only time will tell. Rhule will likely get the next few games at least before drastic action is taken, but Tepper has proven to be wildly unpredictable and reactionary when it comes to important decisions.
Carolina’s plight is more like a soap opera than a football team. Whether it’s by winning or a fresh start, this needs to change sooner rather than later.