Report: Matt Rhule Expected to Return as Panthers Head Coach for 2022 SeasonJanuary 8, 2022
Despite a second consecutive losing season, Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule reportedly isn't going anywhere.
ESPN's David Newton reported that the Panthers are planning on retaining Rhule as head coach for the 2022 season. The 46-year-old has a 10-22 career record ahead of Sunday's season finale at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Newton added that Rhule will begin a thorough search for a new offensive coordinator next week. Former Carolina OC Joe Brady was fired with five games left in the season. Senior offensive assistant Jeff Nixon assumed Brady's role in the interim.
Rhule was hired by Carolina on a seven-year, $62 million contract in January 2020 after successful college head coaching runs at Temple and Baylor. Panthers owner David Tepper also paid a $6 million buyout on Rhule's deal with the Bears.
Carolina lost nine of its last 11 games on its way to a 5-11 season in Rhule's first year. In 2021, the Panthers started out 3-0 but quickly fell off and are now 5-11 while riding a six-game losing streak into Sunday's contest.
Rhule has had to deal with a rash of injuries to key players during his brief run as head coach. Panthers star running back Christian McCaffrey has played in a total of 10 games over the past two seasons because of various ailments. Starting quarterback Sam Darnold has spent time on injured reserve this year because of a shoulder injury.
The Panthers brought back Cam Newton after Darnold's injury, but it didn't work out as they had hoped. Carolina went 0-5 with the 2015 NFL MVP as its starter this season.
Rhule's tenure was rocked when seven-time All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly unexpectedly retired shortly after he was hired. Kuechly had a history of concussions throughout his eight-year career.
Rhule's return will not be welcome news to some Carolina fans. The crowd at the Panthers' last home game were chanting "Fire Rhule," and the chant even broke out at a Charlotte Hornets game as well.