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Panthers’ Matt Rhule fired following 1-4 start to the season

Matthew Morris Matthew Morris BVM Sports Journalist

CHARLOTTE (BVM) – The Carolina Panthers have fired head coach Matt Rhule following Sunday’s loss at home to the San Francisco 49ers, 37-15. Both Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter announced the news via Twitter. Defensive passing game coordinator and Secondary coach Steve Wilks will take over as interim coach. Carolina dropped to 1-4 on the season and it’s the team’s 11th loss in its last 12 games, leading many to believe Rhule could be the first coach fired in the 2022 season. 

The loss on Sunday put Rhule’s all-time record with the Panthers at 11-27 since being hired prior to the 2020 season on a seven-year, $62 million contract. Rhule will now have upwards of $40 million in a buyout. Once again, the offense struggled to do anything and although San Francisco boasts one of the best defenses in the league through five games, it’s no excuse for the poor play from the offense.

Matt Rhule fired Carolina Panthers
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan with Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule after the game. (Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Through five games, Carolina has only scored 20-plus points in two of its games. The Panthers also rank last in the league in third down conversions, only being able to move the sticks 24.2 percent of the time. The trade for Baker Mayfield prior to the season has not paid off, as the former first overall pick has struggled mightily in a Panthers uniform. 

Mayfield has thrown four interceptions and four touchdowns, while only completing 54.9 percent of his passes. He has been sacked 15 times, the seventh most in the league, but the offense as a whole has struggled to march down the field and score consistently this season. The team is now 1-27 under Rhule when opponents score 17-plus points.

The lack of offense has been a constant for the Panthers during the Rhule era. In three seasons, the team has been through three quarterbacks from Teddy Bridgewater to Sam Darnold and now Mayfield. Each has struggled and the team has only managed five wins in 2020 and 2021. 

Last season in an attempt to fix the problem, Rhule fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady in December after the team went 5-7 to begin the season. The move did not help Carolina win another game last year and Brady’s replacement, Bob McAdoo, has not been able to fix the problem. 

Rhule entered the season under scrutiny for a multitude of reasons. That included making the whole offense run during training camp after Rashard Higgins extended the ball as he crossed the goal line. That, along with the offensive issues made many believe Rhule would be fired sooner rather than later.  

The Panthers’ next five games are against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals. The team’s season is already on life support and the firing of Rhule may not give them the kick start the team needs.