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The Carolina Panthers upset several franchises when they snatched Baylor’s Matt Rhule out of the head coaching pool in 2020. Nearly two seasons later, the payoff has been inadequate under Rhule.
After extending their losing record to 5-10 with a Week 16 defeat, Panthers fans and critics are desperate to make sense out of the coach’s strategy, even if Rhule (10-21 total record) is also at a loss trying to explain it.
Pat McAfee was left dumbfounded by their recent appearance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and unloaded on the team’s recent troubles under Rhule.
“I mean, they have no idea what’s going on,” McAfee stated on his show. “Everybody’s always said ‘They got it figured out down there in Carolina. It’s a good coaching hire.’ But they’re just rolling through players. Darnold threw like a 60, 70-yard completion in one of his first plays. He extended the play. Then they had Sam Darnold in for the red zone for a couple plays. He doesn’t do well. They put Cam [Newton] in, Cam gets sacked. It just feels like it’s all in disarray.”
In the 32-6 loss against the Bucs, the Panthers featured Frankenstein’s offense — comprised of Cam Newton and Sam Darnold, formerly benched quarterbacks intended to make a whole. The tandem combined for 251 passing yards and helped set up two made field goals by halftime. Their second half was a total goose egg.
A day following the loss, team owner David Tepper voiced his support for Rhule amid rumors of a potential hot-seat situation.
“I talked to Dave today. He’s been unbelievably supportive,” Rhule announced on Monday. “All of our conversations this morning were about the best things to do moving forward. He’s been tremendously supportive and has shown a ton of confidence in me and in terms of what we’re doing. We’re certainly not where we want to be, but we knew that this was something that was going to have to be done right.”
Losing running back Christian McCaffrey to injury became a detriment to the offense, but the in-season firing of offensive coordinator Joe Brady was a telltale of this organization’s lack of direction from the start — joining the worst teams in the league such as Jacksonville, Detroit and the New York teams in a downward spiral this season.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela