Despite the uncertainty of sports at this time, first-time NFL head coach Matt Rhule takes charge and looks ahead at the 2020 season with Carolina.
The Carolina Panthers are one of many NFL teams that made big moves and changes following the end of the 2019 season. The first of these changes occurred on Dec. 3 when the team announced it would be parting ways with Ron Rivera. Rivera had been with the team since 2011 before leaving after Week 13 in his ninth season. Matt Rhule became the next head coach of the Panthers on Jan. 7.
The other substantial change to come out of Carolina was in the quarterback position. Cam Newton was released in favor of acquiring Teddy Bridgewater. Newton had also been the team’s starting quarterback since being the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, with the exception of an injured 2019 season.
Rhule explains the team’s decision to release Newton.
Newton to Bridgewater
Strutting to Carolina pic.twitter.com/kaFIcYgFm6
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) March 25, 2020
After starting for the Panthers and playing most games since being drafted, Carolina players got used to Newton being their long-time QB. However, the 2019 season told a different story. Newton played only two games due to a foot injury that required surgery.
At this time, Teddy Bridgewater was playing backup for legendary Saints quarterback Drew Brees. An injury to Brees’ hand put Bridgewater in the starting spot for five weeks at the beginning of the season. Though Saints fans were deflated by the news of the injury, Bridgewater managed to fill the Brees-sized gap pretty well. The 27-year-old backup won all five games he started for New Orleans.
Rhule says the Bridgewater signing helps the team, especially during this time of social distancing.
The new Panthers head coach said that the decision to release Newton is more about what he thinks Bridgewater can bring to the team than it is about Newton’s skills and abilities. The announcement of the Bridgewater signing with Carolina came on March 25.
Rhule Looking Ahead
Rhule is taking charge of the Panthers and is positive heading into, what will hopefully be, the 2020 season. He said his goal is always to be a playoff contender and make it to the Super Bowl.
While he said he can’t say yet what the talent looks like because he can’t actually see the team in action, that remains the goal.
Rhule thinks Bridgewater is the perfect addition to this offense under new Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady. The new offensive additions will be combined with extended powerhouse running back Christian McCaffery. The Panthers and Rhule are looking to be an offensive weapon this coming season whether it starts on time or not.