Had the Carolina Panthers caught a few breaks this season, they could very easily be 4-0. They fell just short in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns as rookie Cade York kicked a 58-yard game-winner to spoil Baker Mayfield’s revenge game. In Week 2, Daniel Jones gifted them a pick-six that would have turned the tide of the game, but the ball was dropped.
This past weekend, against the Arizona Cardinals, the Panthers were tied at 10 midway through the third quarter. They would go on to crumble in the fourth quarter, losing that stanza 16-6 to lose the game.
That dropped the Panthers to 1-3 on the season as they have not been able to capitalize on any opportunities presented to them. That has put Matt Rhule on the hottest seat in the NFL as he has arguably the least job security in the league.
There have been reports of Rhule losing the locker room, which is usually the final nail in the coffin for a head coach. If you cannot get the players to respond to what you are preaching, you are a dead man walking.
The fall from grace of the Panthers came out of nowhere, as they won 15 games in the regular season in 2015 before losing in the Super Bowl. Since that time, they have managed one winning season. Rhule has compiled a record of 11-26 in his two-plus seasons on the job.
Part of that is his inability to find a quarterback to lead the team. He has had five different players start under center during his tenure with the team with one of them, P.J. Walker, starting games in 2020 and 2021.
Finding consistent offense has been an issue, which plays into this eye-popping stat about the team. According to NFL Rumors, the Panthers are 1-26 under Rhule when their opponent scores at least 17 points in a game.
That streak has reached 24 consecutive games following the loss to the Cardinals in Week 4. The last time that the Panthers did defeat a team scoring 17 points was October 4th, 2020 against the Cardinals, a game that Carolina won 31-21.
That is an embarrassing stat and a direct indictment against Rhule. It means that his players are not prepared to play against teams that can score points or they just give up at a certain point in the game. Either way, that isn’t an encouraging thing for a head coach as it feels like a matter of when, not if, Rhule is relieved of his duties as head coach.
People always talk about the worst contracts that players sign, but the contract that Rhule received from the Panthers might be the worst coaching contract in NFL history. He received a seven-year, $62 million contract that also required a $6 million buyout for Baylor, where Rhule was coaching before the Panthers hired him.