It is time for a turnaround in Charlotte, North Carolina and Matt Rhule could be the one to do it.
On January 7, 2020, the Carolina Panthers hired Rhule to become team’s fifth head coach. The hiring came after the firing of Ron Rivera during the 2019 season with just four games left to play. Rivera ended his nearly nine year tenure with the team and accepted the job with the Washington Redskins. Panthers owner David Tepper said it was time to “revamp the football side of things” and didn’t want to wait till the end of the season to do it. Teppers plan for Rivera’s replacement was an “offensive-minded coach who embraces analytics” leading him to find Rhule.
Rhule has been known to turn things around in big ways at all his previous stops. He just took the Baylor Bears to a Big 12 championship game in just his third season as head coach. Rhule took the Baylor job in 2017 following the Art Briles scandal where they finished the season at 1-11. After a quick rebuild, in 2019 the Bears finished the season 11-3 overall in the Sugar Bowl and finishing No. 13 in AP ranking.
He also had an incredible turnaround at Temple University. He took the team from two wins to back-to-back 10-win seasons before heading to Baylor.
Rhule has an overall coaching record of 47-43.
Most of his coaching staff is making the jump from college to the NFL this season as well. The recent experience at the college level means they have spent a bit more time analyzing players that will be joining the NFL come April 23.
Rhule expresses the importance of building relationships during his college career and how that helps him in his first draft as a head coach:
He expresses that the lack of face-to-face communication is not ideal but states the positives of working from home giving them more time to get things in order.
The Panthers finished the 2019 season at 5-11 and last in the NFC South and have the No. 7 pick in the first round of the draft. Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons or Auburn’s Derrick Brown are at the top of many mock drafts for the Panthers.