Is it time for the Carolina Panthers to part ways with Matt Rhule?


Carolina Panthers head coach, Matt Rhule, shakes hands with Atlanta Falcons head coach, Arthur Smith, after a game on December 12, 2021. (via Wikimediacommons)

The Carolina Panthers head coach, Matt Rhule, has coached the Panthers since January 2020 with a 10-23-0 record. In the three years he has coached in Charlotte, has Matt Rhule made a difference within the NFL team?

A New York native who attended Penn State University, Matt Rhule found himself at home with Baylor University from 2017 to 2019 as the football program’s head coach. Baylor University’s football league grew tremendously under Rhule’s leadership, guiding the team from a 1-11 record in his first season as head coach to a 7-6 record and an appearance at the Sugar Bowl in 2019. Rhule led the team from 11 losses to 11 wins in two seasons, marking the program as a “Power Five” leader. Second ever in school history, Baylor’s celebratory Sugar Bowl contest was also commended with their 11 wins in the 2019 season.

Matt Rhule was recruited for the NFL based on his collegiate resume in the head coach position. He landed a seven-year contract with the Carolina Panthers. Ron Rivera, the previous head coach of the Panthers, got fired in 2019, only four games into the season. The Charlotte NFL team offered a six-million-dollar buy-out from Baylor University.

Coach Rhule promised victories for the team and fans as the fifth head coach of the Carolina Panthers. A complete coaching staff change, combined improvements for the organization, and earning a relationship with his players seem to be the new head coach’s only standout accomplishments. So far, in the three seasons that Panthers owner David Tepper has given, Rhule has not held up to his promise of bringing home wins. In 2020 the team ended its season with a .313 percent winning record, and in 2021 the percentage spiked down to a .294 winning percentage. With only ten wins total for three seasons, Matt Rhule still has his $62 million contract with the Panthers.

Rhule’s record shows that his time in the NFL does not compare to his head coaching accomplishments at the collegiate level. Although productive progress takes more time in the NFL than at the collegiate level, social media conversations have blown up, with Rhule as the target.

Local Panthers fans have various opinions, including here on the Guilford College campus. According to Brad Davis, head coach of Guilford College’s football team, a team’s performance level determines the respect they receive from the coach.

“If a coach and a player lack trust, there will be a loss of connection on the field,” he said.

Davis also mentions that maturity level contributes to a team’s performance: “Back in 2015, the Carolina Panthers had some really great players such as Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, and Greg Oleson. These guys were in their prime time when the team worked their way to the Super Bowl that year.”

Morgan Kinney, a third-year student-athlete here on campus who works as a manager for the Guilford football program, also had some  thoughts on Rhule’s time with the Carolina Panthers.

“The attraction of fans towards the Panthers does not compare to when we drafted Cam Newton, which was the last time I remember loads of fans for the NFL team,” Kinney said. “Ron Rivera did a great job earning the fans’ excitement and accomplished so much with the organization leading up into his final year with the Panthers.”

With Rhule still on the job as head coach, the team has a lot at stake for fans to anticipate.