In a move many have expected over the first five weeks of the season, Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has fired head coach Matt Rhule. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks will take over as interim head coach for the rest of the season. Wilks was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. Rhule will reportedly still make $834,000 a month for the next 48 months courtesy of the Carolina Panthers.
Rhule has not won more than five games in a season. With a 1-4 start, the hope for anything positive this year has almost completely evaporated. He has fielded five QBs over three seasons with little to no offensive consistency to be found. The injuries to All-Pro RB Christian McCaffery have not helped the situation, but even when he does play, the passing attack is hit or miss. So why was Matt Rhule fired after just five weeks? Let’s take a look at the aftermath.
Why did Carolina fire Matt Rhule?
This decision felt inevitable with how the Panthers have played this season, but the one win Rhule did get this year wasn’t enough to save how anemic Carolina has looked all year. It will be interesting to see if Rhule’s firing also spells an end to quarterback Baker Mayfield’s time as the starter for the Panthers.
After this 1-4 start, Rhule sits with a career record of 11-27, the least successful head coaching stint in Panthers history. One of the main reasons people expect Tepper fired Rhule so early in the season is it gives him a chance to find a job with a college football team.
Where Does Rhule Go Now?
Rhule and Tepper agreed to a seven-year/$62 million contract after the 2020 season. While no one knows how much guaranteed money is left in the deal, if Rhule gets a new opportunity in the upcoming NCAA hiring cycle, the Panthers would get a dollar-for-dollar credit for the $40 million buyout.
Rhule was hired due to his success and quick turnarounds at both Temple and Baylor. There are a lot of openings that have come up across the college football landscape. It seems unlikely he would fill Wisconsin’s vacancy. However, Rhule could be the perfect candidate to rebuild a program like Nebraska, Colorado, or Arizona State.
Rhule is a phenomenal college head coach, but it seems the NFL was a bit more than he could handle. After leading Temple to an AAC conference championship in 2016, Baylor brought Rhule in to take over a Baylor team recovering from the Art Briles sexual assault scandal. The Bears went 1-11 in 2017 but bounced back to 6-6 in 2018 where he won his first bowl game, the Texas Bowl, against the Vanderbilt Commodores.
His college career culminated in an 11-1 2018 season where Baylor lost an extremely close Big 12 championship game to the Oklahoma Sooners. Rhule was hired and with Carolina before he could coach the Sugar Bowl which Baylor also lost. His track record of rebuilding college teams is clear not everyone is made for the NFL.
Editor’s Note: Per a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Carolina Panthers have also fired defensive coordinator Phil Snow