Now that former Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule has a new job (he was hired by Nebraska to be its new head coach less than a week ago), he's opening up about his time with the Panthers and giving his side of the story about why the marriage between the two parties ended.
On the podcast "The Season with Peter Schrager," Rhule was asked what he learned from his two-plus seasons with Carolina (38 games to be exact), or what he would have done differently. It took him almost no time to answer.
"I think I would probably just ... probably taken another job," Rhule said. "It's a great place. Wonderful people. But I just don't know if I was a fit there."
If you remove the "just don't know if I was" from Rhule's last sentence and replace it with "wasn't," he would be right on the money. But hindsight is 20/20.
Rhule continued, bringing up how team owner David Tepper took his four-year plan to turn around the Panthers and essentially reduced it to two years and five games, the exact length of his tenure.
"At the end of the day — we talked about, ‘Hey, we’re gonna have a four-year plan, a five-year plan.’ If you tell me, ‘Hey, we got a two-year plan,’ then I’m [going to] sign a bunch of free agents and do it. So what was a four-year plan became a two-year and five-game plan real quick. And I'm not angry about it. At the end of the day, I understand. But if it's gonna to be that quick, then we're gonna sign some more free agents, we're gonna make that blockbuster trade, we're gonna do those things."
Rhule appears to be blaming Tepper for compressing his timeline, even though he was given a massive amount of organizational power in his seven-year, $62 million contract with the Panthers. Tepper probably has a different view of how all that went down with the guy he trusted to run his multi-billion dollar team.
Rhule takes responsibility for the good things
Rhule might not want to take the blame for the failure of his plan (or his failure to realize he was on the hot seat and should speed things up), but he was more than ready to take responsibility for the things he felt impacted the team positively.
“I think the trajectory we were on was correct,” Rhule said. “It was to have a team that next year could maybe make a big trade. I think you see the signs of it now. When they play well on offense, they win. There’s a good defense there. I give Steve all the credit, I give the coaches all the credit. But I’m part of that building process. So if that had just stayed through maybe this year and maybe made the big free-agent signing this year to get them over the top—I think that the Panthers could win the NFC South for years to come.”
Looking at his time in Carolina as a whole, everyone can agree that Rhule was not the right guy for the Panthers. Now he's back in college football, and in 2023 will attempt to give Nebraska the same kind of makeover he gave Temple a few years ago. It has to go better than his last gig, right?