NFL

Carolina Panthers Coach Matt Rhule Showing Who’s Boss in His First Season

Matt Rhule is the new kid in town, but he’s getting comfortable there. In his first year as head coach of the Carolina Panthers, Rhule is doing things his way. After starting off 0-2, Rhule saw his team win three straight while playing without their best player in Christian McCaffrey. Rhule is tough but fair and is showing he’s the right man to lead the Panthers.

Who is Matt Rhule?

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Matt Rhule is in his first year as head coach of the Carolina Panthers. He was hired prior to the 2020 season after spending the last three seasons as the head football coach at Baylor. Prior to his time at Baylor, Rhule was the head coach at Temple.

In 2015, Rhule guided Temple to a 10-2 season, posting an impressive 27-10 victory over Penn State. It was Temple’s first victory over the Nittany Lions in 74 years. In 2017, Rhule became the head coach of Baylor. In his first year, he went 1-11 as the Bears failed to qualify for a bowl game for the first time in eight seasons.

Rhule followed that season up with a 7-6 record. He then went 11-1 in the regular season. Baylor fell to Oklahoma for the Big 12 title and then lost to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Rhule left Baylor for the NFL after the 2019 season. He signed a seven-year deal with the Carolina Panthers for $62 million.

Rhule overcomes rough welcome to the NFL

Along with a seven-year deal worth $62 million comes the pressure to win. Mike Rhule began his NFL head coaching career with consecutive losses to begin the 2020 season. The Carolina Panthers, with a first-year coach in Rhule and a newcomer at quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, dropped a 34-30 decision to the Las Vegas Raiders in the season opener.

The following week, the Panthers fell to 0-2 after a 31-17 loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rhule got his first NFL victory in Week 3 when the Panthers won 21-16 at the Los Angeles Chargers. The Panthers stopped the Chargers on the final play of the game to seal the victory. The Panthers were also without Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey, who suffered a high ankle sprain against the Buccaneers.

The win over the Chargers began a string of three straight wins for Rhule and the Panthers. In Week 4, Carolina defeated the Arizona Cardinals 31-21, and then knocked off the Atlanta Falcons on the road, winning 23-16. Since then, they have fallen to the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints in close games.

Rhule is showing who’s boss

Matt Rhule wears two words on his shirt sleeve. ‘What’s Next’ is written, but it’s not in question form. He’s not asking what’s to come, but he’s making sure he and the Carolina Panthers are ready for whatever comes next. “The whole point is that we’re not asking what’s next,” Rhule said, according to ESPN. “We’re attacking what’s next. We don’t care what’s next. We’re just looking for the next challenge.

“It’s probably the ethos of our program – like, you learn from the past but never dwell on the past,” Rhule said. “It’s just a mindset of we don’t wallow, we don’t worry. We just attack.” Rhule has his set of rules and if you don’t abide by them, he deals with it and moves on. Josh Hawkins, a practice-squad player, was shown via Instagram dancing mask-less in a crowd this weekend and was subsequently released.

While many NFL coaches ease into practices after the team’s day off, Rhule goes full force with full pads and all-out effort. “Many free agents that have come in from other places (for tryouts), you get dropped into a Carolina Panther Wednesday, it’s like you’re on Mars,” Linebackers coach Mike Siravo said. “Like, ‘What are you guys doing?’ It’s only his first year in the NFL, but Matt Rhule is taking charge in Carolina.