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Rumors about Matt Rhule’s status as Baylor’s head football coach apparently were true. The Carolina Panthers hired Rhule after three seasons with Baylor, and are hoping he can do a similar turnaround at a higher level. Rhule’s one of the hottest coaches in football, but now he inherits his biggest challenge yet.
Matt Rhule the rebuilder
When Rhule took over the Temple Owls program, they were coming off of a 4-7 season. His first season finished 2-10, and raised more concerns. However, he created a winning culture, bringing Temple to two consecutive conference championships and winning one. He finished with a 28-23 record with the Owls, but his final two seasons produced 20 of those wins, getting him the job at Baylor.
What happened at Baylor has been well-documented. A turnaround in Waco required more than improvements on the field. Rhule needed to give the Bears program a complete makeover on and off the field, and he proved to be the perfect man for the job. After a 1-11 finish in 2017, Rhule’s team went 18-9, including a trip to the Big 12 Championship Game this year. The NFL is a new challenge, but Rhule’s actually a good fit for what the Panthers already have on the roster.
A fresh start for Carolina
A 5-11 finish for the Carolina Panthers left fans wanting more, but the talent on the roster appears similar to what Rhule’s worked with at his two previous stops.
Cam Newton is one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in the league, and Rhule worked with similar athletes at Temple and Baylor. Temple quarterback P.J. Walker finished his career with 10,668 yards and 74 touchdowns passing, but also ran for 771 yards and nine touchdowns. His last quarterback, Charlie Brewer, passed for 7,742 yards and 51 touchdowns in his first three seasons. He also rushed for 885 yards and 15 touchdowns. Rhule now inherits Newton, a quarterback with 29,041 yards and 182 touchdowns passing to go with 4,806 yards and 58 touchdowns rushing. Rhule gives Newton a fresh start, but Newton gives Rhule his most talented quarterback yet. Oh and he gets to utilize Christian McCaffrey, arguably the most versatile player in the NFL. He’ll also inherit receivers D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel.
Another aspect Rhule improves at his stops is defense. At Baylor, the Bears went from 119th in scoring defense to 19th in just three seasons. At Temple, Rhule improved the Owls from 104th to 11th in four seasons. Carolina fields All-Pro Luke Kuechly along with exciting players like Shaq Thompson. The Panthers also hold the seventh pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown has been tied to their pick, adding to the excitement.
Matt Rhule takes his talent to the professional level, but it’s one he’s prepared to handle. If anything, this might be the easiest turnaround he’s needed to make. With the talent on the Panthers roster, Rhule figures to be a great fit for this team. If anyone’s equipped to handle this type of challenge, it’s him.