Exposing the major flaws in Matt Rhule’s latest Carolina Panthers comments

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

Former Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule had some choice words to say about Cam Newton on the Bussin’ With The Boys podcast.

Another day, another head coaching candidate interviewed by the Carolina Panthers. Fans are more than ready for general manager Scott Fitterer and owner David Tepper to make a decision on who the next leader of the franchise will be. Hopefully, they decide to hire someone who will be the antithesis of Matt Rhule.

Rhule, who is entering his first season as Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach, talked about his family, former and current players, the difference between college and the NFL, and his time spent with the Panthers on the latest Bussin’ With The Boys podcast.

After listening to the two-and-a-half-hour-long episode, I wanted to give my thoughts on what Rhule said about the Panthers and why I have an issue with it.

To preface, I believe it is abundantly clear how I feel about Rhule’s tumultuous tenure. From terrible game management to poor personnel decisions made in the draft and via free agency, he spearheaded arguably the worst administration in the franchise’s short history.

Look no further than his handling of the quarterback position to understand the magnitude of Rhule’s failures.

Matt Rhule failed to grasp simple NFL concepts with the Carolina Panthers

In the podcast, Rhule starts off by saying he got fired in correction to the hosts who said he left. Right off the bat, he talks about how this fuels his motivation to be a better coach in Lincoln and for the young guys he is leading.

It’s clear in comments about his time with the Panthers that Rhule was in way over his head and truly not a fit for the NFL. He loves to present himself as a family man, and as somebody who wants to be close to his players. However, players and coaches call the NFL a business for a reason.

Relationships form, but all NFL bonds are just temporary and will come to an end at some point, which Rhule acknowledged. He also voiced his displeasure with the way players are cut and how every play is graded – not how hard they work in practice or the offseason.

While all this may be true, Rhule failed to grasp this concept while he was in charge and led the Panthers into deep disarray. The game changes once you make it to the professional level.

In college football, you can get by with strong relationships and team chemistry. But in the NFL, all that nepotism and emotional connection when it comes to the players need to be kept in check.

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be an element of emotion there, but when it comes to steering the fate of a franchise, emotion should not come before practicality.

Rhule talks about how his current staff at Nebraska is made up of more than 10 former players he used to coach in each of his previous coaching gigs, including the Panthers. This is one of the primary reasons why his time in the league failed cataclysmically.

Ironically, if there was one player he should’ve exercised his nepotism with, it was Haason Reddick. But we’ll save that for another day.

One of my biggest issues with what Rhule said is how the coach felt he never threw anybody under the bus, which is simply untrue. There were plenty of times during his first season in which he threw shade at Teddy Bridgewater and Joe Brady for decisions that cost the team a win.

While it was never a full-on roast, Rhule has had his fair share of criticism diverted to other individuals because of his refusal to take accountability.

After his firing early in the season, on a different podcast, Rhule talks about how he deserves some of the credit for what Steve Wilks and Fitterer accomplished this season. However, he contradicted himself by passing blame to the general manager for the heinous Sam Darnold trade and other roster decisions that set the franchise back.

Matt Rhule’s regret over Cam Newton is a microcosm of time with the Carolina Panthers

Even in this episode, Rhule admits to throwing Panthers legend Cam Newton under the bus for a play he made at the end of the game against the Buffalo Bills in 2021.

Rhule typically likes to take an extremely conservative approach to his post-game press conferences, often to the dismay of fans and reporters who are looking for an answer to the mess they just watched. However, in this specific instance, he passively blamed Newton for the outcome of the final play that ended with another Panthers’ loss.

The former Baylor man took an extended press tour following his firing. He has relationships with former players, coaches, and colleagues that have given him numerous platforms to speak on what went wrong during his tenure with the Panthers. Never before have we seen a coach take a lap like this after leaving a franchise in such a catatonic state.

When asked why it didn’t work out, he said he “took over a tough situation” and that “they” released Newton.

Not “we”, they.

Of course, this is passing the buck to figures like Marty Hurney and the powers that used to be during his first season. Rhule praised Newton for his efforts and called him a “grinder”, which is a head-scratcher to me because it begs the question.

Why didn’t he bring Newton back for 2022?

Rhule continued by saying he would’ve made changes to the team, the offense in particular, much faster. Specifically, trading up for a quarterback.

These are the statements that make the blood of Panthers fans boil. Suspect handling of issues that should have been addressed much sooner could have very well led to Carolina winning a weakened NFC South this season.

Rhule claimed he knew the division would be up for grabs. So it is truly ridiculous how much turmoil and limbo we were led to believe the future of the franchise was in, simply because of his inability to make the moves needed.

As Panthers fans, it’s past time we move on from Rhule and truly begin the healing process. We are tired of hearing this guy say all the right things with very little substance.

Everything he says from here on out will only discourage the team’s fanbase about his tenure even more. It’s best if we leave Rhule and the mess he made where it belongs.

Firmly in the past.

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