Panthers' Top Options to Replace Matt Rhule as Head Coach After Firing

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVOctober 10, 2022

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 02: Head coach Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers looks on before the game against the Arizona Cardinalsat Bank of America Stadium on October 02, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers are the first NFL team looking for a new head coach during the 2022 season.

The team announced it fired Matt Rhule on Monday following a 1-4 start that included Sunday's ugly 37-15 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Rhule went 11-27 since he took over as the head coach ahead of the 2020 campaign. Defensive pass game coordinator/secondary coach will take over as interim head coach.

Rhule figures to be a top candidate for open coaching positions in the college ranks, considering he found success at Temple and Baylor before heading to the NFL.

As for the Panthers, a major part of the issue has been quarterback Baker Mayfield. He has struggled in his first season with the team while completing 54.9 percent of his passes for 962 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.

Quarterback has been a concern in Carolina since the end of Cam Newton's first tenure with the team in 2019, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see the franchise look toward the offensive side of the ball when searching for its next coach.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is seemingly a candidate for every open position but is yet to parlay his success with Patrick Mahomes into a head coaching job. It may be a stretch to suggest he can establish the same level of productivity with Carolina's signal-callers, but it is impossible to argue with his track record in Kansas City.

The Chiefs won the AFC West in each of his first four years as offensive coordinator and reached two Super Bowls, winning one.

Elsewhere, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore figures to be a candidate after the NFC East team finished first in the league in yards and points last year and is 4-1 this season even though quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a thumb injury in Week 1 and is yet to return.

Cooper Rush has not lost since taking over for the injured starter.

The Panthers could also look toward the other side of the ball by considering San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.

Ryans' 49ers are first in the NFL in points and yards allowed this season thanks to a defense that could lead it into Super Bowl contention even if Jimmy Garoppolo is mediocre under center. Gannon's Eagles are fourth in yards allowed and seventh in points allowed and remain the league's only undefeated team at 5-0.