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The Carolina Panthers are planning to retain head coach Matt Rhule for the 2022 NFL season, and he will begin a thorough search for an offensive coordinator next week, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Saturday.
Rhule, 46, has a career record of 10-22 heading into Sunday’s season finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Rhule previously fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady with five games left. By October, Rhule had said he was sticking with Brady, but wanted him to get more involved in the running game. However, Brady has never committed to running the game to the level Rhule preferred (at least 30 attempts per game).
Senior offensive assistant Jeff Nixon took over the offensive coordinator duties with the rest of the offensive coaching staff.
The fan base also seems to support Rhule as the crowd cheered “Fore Rhule” at the last home game, and fans even shouted that a Charlotte Hornets game was in the last week.
Panthers owner David Tepper hired Rhule in January 2020 to succeed Ron Rivera, who was sacked four games back in the 2019 season. Tepper gave him a seven-year, $ 62 million contract in addition to paying $ 6 million to buy out of Rhules’ deal with Baylor.
Carpets made it clear at the time that he understood the “difficulty” of having a coach move from college to the NFL. Rhules’ only NFL experience before Carolina was as an offensive assistant for the New York Giants in 2012.
Rhule was hired because of his reputation for quickly flipping programs in Temple and Baylor. The Panthers have not reached the playoffs or had a winning season since 2017.
Tepper said Rhule fit the job description of “the right mix of old-fashioned discipline and toughness with modern and innovative processes.”
The Panthers were 5-11 in the Rhules first season, losing nine of their last 11 games.
Injuries have played a role in Rhules’ time in Carolina. Pro Bowl center-back Luke Kuechly, who had a history of concussion, unexpectedly retired shortly after Rhule was hired. Christian McCaffrey has only played in three out of 16 games in 2020 due to injuries and a total of 10 games the past two seasons since becoming the NFL’s highest paid running back.
But no position has affected Rhule more than quarterback. The Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater to lead his first team after choosing to release Cam Newton, who was limited to two games in 2019 due to injury.
Rhule moved on from Bridgewater after one season, and Carolina switched to Sam Darnold, who was 13-25 in his first three seasons with the New York Jets. Darnold started 3-0 this season but won only one of his next six starts before going on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
After Darnold’s injury, Rhule brought back Newton, who was a free agent after being released by the New England Patriots after training camp. The 2015 NFL MVP, who lost its last eight starts its first round with Carolina, went 0-5 as a starter in its return.