So the Matt Rhule era is finally over. Honestly, good riddance. What a waste.

Rhule was probably the hottest coaching candidate of the 2020 offseason. I’m not sure why. I don’t follow college ball so my knowledge of Rhule was basically that he apparently turned around two teams, one being Baylor after the school had been rocked by the awful sexual assault scandal. I remember him being talked about as a guy who knew how to motivate a team, even a bad roster, into competing. I remember the Giants were probably the #1 candidate to land him until the Panthers swooped in with a frankly absurd contract that the Giants wouldn’t match. The Panthers got the biggest name of the coaching pool and the Giants ended up with some guy named Joe Judge who they tried to pretend was the pick all along.

Funny how things work out. If the Giants had hired Rhule he’d probably still be employed, and the team would still suck. Joe Judge was such a disaster that the front office got cleaned out for good last year and we ended up with the hottest candidate of the 2022 coaching pool, and the team appears to be starting on the right track. The Panthers were not so lucky. Rhule was not as awful a coach as Judge. The Panthers in that first year actually improved under Rhule, not to good levels but mediocre ones and for a first-year guy taking over a mess that’s acceptable.

Unfortunately, the cracks began to show the instant they traded for Sam Darnold. Sam Darnold? Did they give up that much for Sam Darnold? They did. That was our clue that Matt Rhule and the Panthers FO did not actually have a plan. The upcoming draft was full of QBs but they instead decide to take a flyer on the former first-round bust. Why? It did not get better from there. The Panthers came out of the gate in 2021 with 3 straight wins and then they’d only win 2 more games all year. By that point, fans were mad. Rhule was not popular. The team did not seem well run. A lot of people wanted Rhule out. They were paying like 5 QBs.

Unfortunately, that massive contract stuck David Tepper in the Sunk Coach Fallacy. Cut the guy now, so early in, owing so much money, or give him one more shot? I think they handled it quite possibly as bad as they could have in the end. They gave him one more shot, traded for one more washout QB, and came out of the gate looking like a pile of crap, firing Rhule after 5 games. 5 games in seems…too early. Not that I believe the Panthers were on the right track or would turn it around, but firing a guy that early solves basically nothing. Now you have a ton of players on a roster that know the season is a complete waste of time, why would any of them even try? I sure wouldn’t. Why risk getting hurt for an interim coach you know is toast (and it’s Steve Wilks, a guy who sucked so bad as a HC he got fired after one year). At least give Rhule 10 games to figure it out. Stick the hottest fire under him. If the season is a waste, make him do his job. Maybe the locker room situation was far more toxic than we know and he had to go.

Anyway, Rhule is still owed something like 40 million dollars, so he’ll be just fine. The David Tepper era is off to a horrible start.