Carolina Panthers Fire Head Coach Matt Rhule After 1-4 Start, Steve Wilks Named Interim Head Coach


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Ozair Hussain

After a dismal 1-4 start to the 2022 NFL season, the Carolina Panthers fired head coach Matt Rhule on Monday, October 10.

The move comes after an ugly 37-15 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers in which the Panthers struggled on both sides of the ball. QB Baker Mayfield completed 55.6% of his pass attempts for 215 yards and an interception, which was returned for a touchdown, while the defense gave up 253 passing yards to 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo and 155 rushing yards.

Once one of the hottest head coaching candidates during the 2020 NFL coaching carousel, in which the Panthers lured the then-Baylor University head coach away from the New York Giants with a 7-year, $62 million contract, Rhule now finds himself out of a job.

One of the primary reasons Rhule was one of the hottest head coaching candidates three off-seasons ago was because of the fantastic job he did rebuilding Temple University and Baylor University’s football programs.

Rhule took a 2-10 Temple Owls team in 2013 to back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2015-16 before taking the head coaching job at Baylor. Rhule performed his magic once again, leading a 1-11 Baylor Bears team to a 7-6 and 11-3 record within the span of two years.

However, one of the reasons why Rhule was fired his third season into a 7-year deal was because of poor quarterback play and an extremely inept offense.

Rhule had a different starting quarterback each of his three years with the Panthers in Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield—all of whom have struggled. On top of that, Rhule also had to deal with star running Christian McCaffrey’s injuries over the past two seasons. McCaffrey missed a total of 21 games spanning the previous two regular seasons.

Although it was rumored Rhule was going to be fired after back-to-back 5-win seasons, owner David Tepper exercised caution by retaining him for a third season. However, as the losses continued, rumors began to surface Tepper was embarrassed by the 7-year contract he offered Rhule. Regarding Rhule’s dismissal as head coach, Tepper said, “I had a conversation with the coach this morning…it was short, cordial. He’s a gentleman, a true gentleman…Ultimately I felt like this was the time now, now was the time.”

Matt Rhule leaves the Carolina Panthers with an 11-27 record (.289 winning percentage) but should be an interesting head coaching candidate at the NCAA level given his previous track record.

In the interim, defensive pass game coordinator and secondary coach Steve Wilks will take over as head coach. Wilks was a member of the Panthers coaching staff from 2012-17 and the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals for the 2018 season.