Matt Rhule introduced as Panther’s new head coach


Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 8, 2020; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers new head coach Matt Ruhle holds up a jersey at Atrium Health Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Carson Keaton, Sports Editor

The Carolina Panthers are entering their 26th season as a franchise in the NFL. In the first 25 seasons of the teams existence, the Panthers have had four head coaches; the latest being Ron Rivera who was fired after the team’s week 13 loss to a then 2-9 Washington Redskins team. The team then chose to finish out the season with interim head coach Perry Fewell who lost the remaining four games to finish the season with a 5-11 record.

On Jan. 7, the Panthers hired former Baylor head coach, Matt Rhule. In his college coaching career, he significantly improved the record of Temple and Baylor. Rhule signed a seven year contract with the Panthers that can be worth up to $70 million with $60 million guaranteed. 

Rhule is not new to the Carolinas. From 2002 to 2005, Coach Rhule was an assistant head coach for Western Carolina University. As a part of the coaching staff, he coached linebackers and offensive line while also being the run game and special teams coordinator. Near the end of his time at Western Carolina, he even took over some of the head coaching duties during then head coach, Kent Briggs’ battle with cancer.

Many people are hesitant about the Panther’s coaching choice because of Rhule’s lack of NFL experience. It is not often that a coach is given an NFL head coaching position right out of college. The one year Arizona Cardinals coach, Kliff Kingsbury who also came straight from coaching in college was named head coach after six seasons at Texas Tech University. In 2019 the Cardinals ended 5-10-1. Panther fans hope the team can do better than that in Matt Rhule’s first season but 5-10-1 is still an improvement from the Panther’s 5-11 2019 season. 

Rhule is a program builder, meaning that when he is given a head coaching job he addresses the issues in the organization and fixes them as quickly and easily as possible. The biggest question with the team entering the 2020 season concerns quarterback Cam Newton’s future with the team. Rhule is a coach that usually brings in younger, less experienced players with a lot of talent to build his teams. With Newton entering the final year of his five year, 103.8 million dollar contract his future with the Panthers is uncertain. 

Players like running back Christian McCaffrey are excited to get to work with Coach Rhule. Although the Panthers ended their season with a 5-11 record, the running back became only the third player in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. McCaffrey was one of the high points for Carolina in the 2019 season showing out in most, if not all contests. So, McCaffrey being excited to work with Coach Rhule is a good look for the new coach.

Panther fans have a lot to look forward to leading into the 2020 season as the Matt Rhule era begins in Carolina. Of course, the fans want a Super Bowl win but hopefully in 2020 the team can just make an improvement from the 2019 season.