The Carolina Panthers were expected to be much improved in 2022, and that meant they were a team to back when making NFL picks. Carolina got off to a much slower start to the season than expected, and it ended up costing head coach Matt Rhule his job.
Rhule was officially fired by the Panthers on Monday following a Week 5 blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers. This was the first head coaching firing in the NFL during the 2022 season, but it likely won’t be the last.
This move was made by owner David Tepper after he realized that Rhule was not the head coach to help the franchise get over the hump. What made this move even more shocking is the fact that Tepper spent the entire offseason talking about Rhule and the promise to give him enough time to turn things around.
Rhule is still owed over $40 million by the Panthers, and he is expected to get all of the remaining money on his contract. Carolina initially signed Rhule to a seven-year $62 million deal as they plucked him from Baylor University.
The Panthers have been hit hard by the injury bug over the last few seasons, and that was the case again during the 2022 season. Still, it was the inability of Rhule to put together an offense that mirrored what he was able to do at Baylor, as the Panthers just couldn’t win any games in which the other team scored at least 17 points.
Fan support for Rhule and the Panthers seemed to hit an all-time low during the Week 5 loss, as well as a majority of the stadium, which was filled with fans of the 49ers. Steve Wilks was named the interim head coach of the Panthers, and he has had previous experience as a head coach in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals.
Panthers Looking at Making Deals
If you are going to be making NFL expert picks for the Panthers during the remainder of the 2022 season, you might want to check out their roster and injury report. Now that the Panthers have decided to fire Rhule, there is no reason for the Panthers to try to play for a playoff spot in 2022.
According to league sources, the Panthers are starting to listen to trade offers on some of their top players, including Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey has continued to be a terrific player, but injuries have been a problem over the last few years.
If the Panthers are willing to trade their star running back, then all of the other players will be on the table as well.
College Openings Popping Up
The most likely next step for Matt Rhule is to return to the college ranks where he had so much success. A return to Baylor won’t be an option for Rhule, but he is going to have plenty of other schools that come calling.
The Big Ten Conference might be his best option, as two high-profile programs are going to be hiring a new head coach prior to next season. The University of Wisconsin and the University of Nebraska both made a decision to fire their head coaches early on in the year.
Since Rhule is still going to be getting a ton of money from the Panthers, he could also sit and wait for a perfect opportunity to pop up.
Other NFL Coaches on Hot Seat
NFL teams are always expecting their head coaches to deliver, and they are quick to make moves when that isn’t taking place. If you are into making any type of NFL predictions, you can usually predict anywhere from 5-10 head coaching moves every season.
Owners and general managers don’t typically come out and say which coaches are on the hot seat at any time, but a quick look at the standings can give you a good idea. Some NFL franchises don’t like to fire a head coach during a regular season, but the coaching carousel starts going after the season.
By firing Rhule after just five weeks, Carolina has gotten a head start on the search for a new head coach, and that could provide them with a big advantage. Many NFL franchises will be interviewing the same candidates for a head coaching position, and Carolina could claim their head coach quicker.