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CHARLOTTE, NC – Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, who spoke to reporters on Wednesday for the first time since Matt Rhule got 5-11 and 5-12 in his first two seasons, gave a strong vote of confidence to his head coach.
Tepper recalled that when Rhule got a seven-year deal in January 2020, he said it could take five years to build an organization capable of sustained expertise.
I added “maybe it will be six years” on Wednesday.
“I believe in Matt. He has my full support,” Tepper said in a 30-minute Zoom session. “… I’m a fan. I do not like to lose. Who likes to lose? I want to win. But it takes time and it takes a foundation and it takes time to create the foundation to win. I believe in Coach Rhule and [general manager] Scott [Fitterer] has done a great job of creating that foundation. ”
Carpets also gave a vote of confidence to Sam Darnold on the eve of Thursday’s NFL draft, with the quarterback remaining on the table for Carolina with the No. 6 pick.
“I want to say one thing, I think we have a very good quarterback in Sam Darnold,” Fitterer said in response to which quarterbacks in this year’s draft were able to get Carolina to a Super Bowl. “It was not your question, but I’m just saying it.”
Darnold was 4-7 last year as the Carolina starter and is 17-32 overall since the New York Jets made him the third pick in the 2018 draft.
Tepper noted that Darnold had 3-0 last season before running back Christian McCaffrey was injured. He also noted that Darnold suffered a shoulder injury that put him on injured reserve for four games.
“So there were a lot of different things that happened last year that hopefully will not happen again this year that give me any hope,” said Tepper, whose team has gone 22-43 since paying an NFL record of 2, $ 3 billion for franchise in 2018.
Carpets is also encouraged that Darnold can improve with the upgrades to the offensive line in the free agency and the hiring of the new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.
That does not preclude the Panthers from taking a quarterback in the draft. Fitterer said Tuesday that he told Darnold that the team would likely add another quarterback through the weekend either through the draft or by acquiring a veteran.
Carpets understands the importance of getting the quarterback position right and how it could affect the future of Rhule.
“Unless you have the guy who’s definitely getting you to the playoffs and the Super Bowls, you have to keep re-evaluating it, because the only thing that matters is the Super Bowls,” Tepper said in December 2020. , last time he held a press conference. .
On Wednesday, Carpets repeatedly spoke about the importance of patience and building a foundation. Part of the offseason focus on building this foundation has been the offensive line, and left tackling is still a big issue coming into the draft.
There’s a good chance one or two of the top three left tackles – NC States’ Ikem Ekwonu, Alabama’s Evan Neal and Mississippi State’s Charles Cross – will be available at No. 6.
“I have said it: ‘five years, five years, five years’ from the time Coach Rhule was hired, it’s just building that foundation, having the patience to build that foundation, trying to get fans to have patience that the foundation has. lasting victory, ” said Tepper.
“It’s hard to build that foundation. It’s hard. I have a new understanding of how stupid I am sometimes, quite frankly.”
Carpets, however, added that “win plays into” decisions, but he likes the setup for this season.
“There’s a saying, what was then, is then, what is now, is now,” Tepper said. “And we are in the now. We are not in that time.
“If we have an expectation of lasting victory, we must build it. We must have patience. I want to win now, but I know you still have to have a foundation.”