Through a statement, Carolina announced that the coach is no longer part of the team after starting the season with a 1-4 mark.
Matt Rhule was fired as Carolina Panthers head coach less than six months after owner David Tepper signaled it could take five, maybe six years, to rebuild an organization capable of sustaining excellence.
Rhule’s firing Monday comes less than 24 hours after a 37-15 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and before three years of the seven-year, $62 million contract he received in January 2020 to transform the Panthers the way he did with college programs at Temple and Baylor.RELATED
He was fired with an 11-27 record, including his 1-4 start this season.
Defensive passing game coordinator Steve Wilks, who managed the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, has been named interim head coach.
Rhule’s firing comes after Tepper said in late April: “I believe in Matt. He has my full support.”
“I’m a fan,” Tepper declared that day. “I don’t like losing. But it takes time and it takes a foundation, it takes time to create the foundation to win. I think Coach Rhule and [el gerente general] Scott [Fitterer] They’ve done a great job creating those foundations.”
Matt Rhule becomes the first head coach fired for the 2022 season. Getty Images
What Rhule, 47, never found was a quarterback capable of sustaining success.
He inherited Cam Newton, who was cut in March 2020 while rehabbing from foot surgery and a shoulder problem that made him a shadow of the player who won the NFL MVP award in 2015.
The Panthers acquired Teddy Bridgewater, who was released for one season after giving him a three-year, $63 million deal. They then traded with the New York Jets for the third overall pick in the 2018 draft, Sam Darnold, who had gone 13-25 as a starter in New York.
Carolina brought Newton back during the 2021 campaign when Darnold suffered a shoulder injury, only to see the first overall pick in the 2011 draft go 0-5.
Rhule and Fitterer made a strong push to make a trade with the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson this offseason despite the fact that the quarterback had 22 civil lawsuits against him for sexual misconduct and sexual assault.
When Watson chose the Cleveland Browns, making Baker Mayfield expendable, the Panthers began searching for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. That trade finally happened in July.
Mayfield never regained the form he had in 2020, when he led the Browns to an 11-5 record and a playoff win, posting career lows in almost every stat.
“That’s the most important position on the field,” Tepper said after the team parted ways with Newton. “Unless you have that guy who takes you to the playoffs and Super Bowls, you have to keep reassessing because the only thing that matters is the Super Bowls.
“And until you have that guy, you’re evaluating, evaluating, evaluating every year.”
Rhule felt the roster as a whole was good enough to win this season if he got something good out of Mayfield. That never happened and Tepper decided on Monday to make a change.