So, what’s the Carolina Panthers plan with Matt Rhule as head coach?

Carolina Panthers

It’s a team with three losing campaigns these past four seasons. Now the Carolina Panthers head in a different direction with their newest head coach.

Have you read the news today?

Oh boy.

The Carolina Panthers, who first took the field in the NFL in 1995 and have still yet to post consecutive winning seasons, hired a new head coach on Tuesday.

Matt Rhule spent the past three years with the Baylor Bears and led the club to the Sugar Bowl this season. Prior to that, the one-time New York Giants’ assistant was the sideline leader for the Temple Owls. What’s so unique about the 44-year-old teacher, who celebrates a birthday on the final day of January?

Well, the Panthers have technically had five head coaches in their 25 seasons. That includes Perry Fewell, who took over on an interim basis for the final four games after Ron Rivera was dismissed. It began with Dom Capers back in ’95, followed by George Seifert (1999-2001) and later John Fox (2002-10).


 


Notice a trend? All five men were defensive coaches. Enter Ruhle, who is a student on the other side of the football.

He inherits a team with one of the league’s premier quarterbacks…when healthy. It wasn’t that long ago that Cam Newton was capturing NFL MVP honors. That was in 2015, when the 15-1 Panthers reached Super Bowl 50. It also wasn’t long ago that the first pick in the 2011 draft was leading his team to the playoffs in ’17. But injuries have taken their toll since the halfway point of the 2018 season. This offseason, there was shoulder surgery but that wound up not being the only thing to ail Newton. He was sat down after two games this past year and both Kyle Allen and Will Grier finished out the year behind center.

So what does all of that have to do with Rhule? And what about a Carolina defense that hasn’t been up to snuff for more than a year? Was bringing an offensive coach to Charlotte the right move given the issues elsewhere?

The Panthers allowed the second-most points in the NFL (470) and the fourth-most rushing yards in the league in 2019. But one way to offset those deficiencies is with a balanced attack and that’s what Baylor featured under Rhule. Carolina has arguably the most versatile running back in the league in Christian McCaffrey. A healthy Newton makes this approach even better. And it will be interesting to see who the franchise brings on to run the defense.

Panthers’ owner David Tepper, who purchased the team roughly a year and a half ago, was looking to make a splash. Rhule was a name out there in recent weeks and thought to be on the New York Giants’ wish list. Now he takes over in Carolina and inherits a club that finished 5-11 in ’19 and dropped its final eight games. But this is a head coach that knows a little something about reclamation projects.

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