Matt Rhule revelations paint shocking picture of Carolina Panthers reign

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /

Early revelations surrounding Matt Rhule’s tenure with the Carolina Panthers paint a shocking picture of his three years with the organization. 

It’s been one week since the Carolina Panthers put Matt Rhule out of his misery. The head coach was fired following the team’s dismal Week 5 loss against the San Francisco 49ers, which had been coming for some time and ended a disastrous three-year stint with the franchise with little success.

Rhule looked out of his depth long before team owner David Tepper finally cut his losses. While his methods were well suited to the college ranks, this didn’t get the right message to professional players and ended up being his undoing.

As is normally the case, the rabbit is slowly coming out of the hat in terms of how Rhule actually ran things in Carolina. The early revelations paint a dictatorial figure that wanted complete control of everything, even getting involved with social media posts per Will Kunkel of FOX Charlotte and things he had no real business tending his time towards given how things were unfolding on the field.

Matt Rhule treated the Carolina Panthers like a college program

A recent article from Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports is further proof of Rhule treating the Panthers like a college program and not an NFL franchise. Much ridicule has come from The Process and The Brand he tried to install, which also included a three-page document that staff members were reportedly supposed to know off by heart to get themselves in the coach’s good graces.

"“The document states that “if you can’t write down” this plan and “the Brand,” the staff member is “not OOU.” That is an acronym commonly used in the building that stands for “One Of Us.” OOU was used regularly in the draft and free-agency process to determine what players Carolina should and should not target. The acronym came to be mocked regularly by some staffers in the last year-plus.”"

The fact Carolina hasn’t yet thanked Rhule for his services upon announcing the news tells its own story. That is probably the reason why he surrounded himself with close allies from Temple and Baylor throughout his stint with the team.

Joe Person of The Athletic also cited sources within the organization during his feature that disclosed the bizarre final few days before offensive coordinator Joe Brady was fired midway through the 2021 bye week.

According to Person, Rhule went away on his planned bye week vacation when the Panthers were in freefall and having brought Cam Newton back into the fold just a fortnight before. While the former Baylor man went off for some rest and relaxation, Brady spent his time in the building assisting the 2015 NFL MVP to pick up the offense in a bid to turn their fortunes around.

Rhule got back and fired Brady, making all this hard work obsolete. Newton never hit the heights anticipated in a difficult situation, but this was another example of the head coach managing operations abysmally.

Whether it’s Steve Wilks or someone else leading the Panthers moving forward, one thing that cannot be questioned is that they are far better off without Rhule. And the fact he had the final say on personnel decisions was a cataclysmic error in judgment from Tepper, who’ll be paying his guy handsomely for some time yet.

One could make a long list of the things Rhule couldn’t get right in Carolina. From the DBO sign to the flawed trades at the quarterback spot, it was an abomination from start to finish.

What’s important for the Panthers is moving on quickly from one of the worst tenures in franchise history. Even if the mess Rhule left behind couldn’t be much worse.

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