By: ZACHARY JONES / STAFF REPORTER
The Carolina Panthers find themselves to be the first NFL team to make a coaching change so far this season, as they decided to fire Head Coach Matt Rhule.
This decision comes following a poor 1-4 start to the season paired with multiple seasons of underperformance. Rhule’s total record for the team was 11-27, having 2 consecutive 5 win seasons in the years prior.
It is also worth noting that the offseason decisions under the Matt Rhule era have been quite lackluster.
Carolina has seen some successes (Derrick Brown, Jermey Chin, Jaycee Horn, and Ikem Ekwonu) and some failures (Terrace Marshall Jr., Brady Christensen, Tommy Tremble) when it comes to the draft. The signings have not been amazing, with very unfriendly team deals for players such as Teddy Bridgewater (3 years, $63mil), Robbie Anderson (2 years, $29.5mil), Ian Thomas, (3 years, $16.5mil), D.J. Moore, (3 years, $61.9mil), and exercising the 5th year option on Sam Darnold ($18.9mil).
They have mainly made good trades under Rhule, trading for players such as Stephon Gilmore, Trai Turner, Kyle Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Laviska Shenault Jr. However, they completely flopped on the Sam Darnold trade based on draft capital sent paired with the salary cap hit of Darnold. Ultimately, Rhule just couldn’t make the roster work, despite it having talent consistently.
Panthers From Here
The question of who should take over the coaching vacancy needs to be addressed.
The lead candidates are DeMeco Ryans (San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator), Dan Quinn (Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator), Eric Bieniemy (Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator), Ken Dorsey (Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator), Shane Waldron (Seattle Seahawks Offensive Coordinator), and Byron Leftwhich (Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator).
Shane Waldron will have many teams intrigued with his high powered offense in Seattle thriving behind the resurgence of quarterback Geno Smith. Many like Waldron to Carolina especially due to the fact that the team needs drastic help on offense, and the Panthers could look to get him in hopes of getting a Baker Mayfield resurgence, similar to that of Geno.
The Panthers team this year has arguably better weapons than that of Seattle with DJ Moore and McCaffery leading that list, and paired with multiple deep threats like Terrace Marshall Jr., Shi Smith, and Laviska Shenault Jr. This could be the perfect fit for the vertical run system Waldron loves so much.
Another candidate for the job is DeMeco Ryans.
Ryans has been a hot name in the NFL world for a promotion to a Head Coach spot. This comes due to the fact that he has led one of the NFLs best defenses for the past couple of years in San Francisco. Ryans has helped to coach one of the best defenses in the league despite the consistent injuries his squad has faced.
Another option to be considered is somewhat of a stretch, Ken Dorsey.
The well animated, fiery offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills actually was a coach for the Panthers some time ago. The former quarterback coach could see a return to Carolina in the position of head coach.
Much like the Waldron deal this deal is centered around the fact that the Panthers need help offensively, and this may be the best man to provide it, being as he’s been a part of one of the best offenses in the league in Buffalo and even helped to hone Josh Allen’s talent. However, the likelihood of this to occur is lower than the others due to Dorsey recently resigning to stay with Buffalo over the New York Giants.