NFL Rumors: Panthers HC Matt Rhule on Hot Seat 'If Things Don't Pick Up Soon'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVOctober 5, 2022

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 25: Head coach Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers reacts after a play against the New Orleans Saints during the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule is reportedly on the hot seat amid a 1-3 start to the season.

According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano, the Panthers may be inclined to make a coaching change "if things don't pick up soon."

Fowler and Graziano added that the Panthers' likeliest candidate to take over as interim head coach in the event of Rhule getting fired is defensive pass game coordinator and secondary coach Steve Wilks, who went 3-13 as the Arizona Cardinals head coach in 2018.

After Rhule led impressive turnarounds at both Temple and Baylor, the Panthers hired him as their new head coach prior to the 2020 season.

The decision has not paid dividends thus far, as Carolina went 5-11 in 2020 and 5-12 in 2021 before starting 1-3 this year.

There was hope for improvement entering the 2022 campaign because of the young talent on defense, the healthy return of running back Christian McCaffrey and the acquisition of Baker Mayfield to take over from Sam Darnold at quarterback.

None of that has equated to a winning formula for the Panthers, though, and it is getting more and more difficult to envision Rhule lasting beyond this season.

The Panthers have now acquired Darnold and Mayfield in each of the past two offseasons, but neither has performed well and the offense has remained stagnant.

Darnold went just 4-7 as a starter last season, throwing for nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions, and eventually ceded for the return of Cam Newton.

Mayfield was thought to be a significant upgrade, but he hasn't been much better, completing just 54.7 percent of his passes for 747 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.

He was particularly listless in a 26-16 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, throwing for 197 yards, one touchdown and two picks.

It is difficult to win in the NFL without a top quarterback, but Rhule bears some of the responsibility for the quarterbacks who were chosen since he arrived in 2020 and the fact that they haven't performed.

Things aren't likely to get any easier for the Panthers in the near future, as their next three games are against the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, all of whom were playoff teams last season.

If the Panthers don't experience any success during that stretch, it wouldn't be surprising to see a coaching change made either during or at the conclusion of it.