Former Panthers coach Matt Rhule isn’t upset. Or so he says.
He says other things that suggest otherwise.
Now that Rhule has an eight-year contract with Nebraska and no immediate (or long-term) plans to return to the NFL, Rhule has opted for candor, even if it’s tainted by revisionist history, regarding his time with the Panthers.
Asked during an appearance on The Season with Peter Schrager what would Rhule have done differently, he was direct.
“I think probably probably [have] got another jobRhule said. “It is a great place. Wonderful people. But I just don’t know if I was a fit there. You know, at the end of the day, you know, we talked about, ‘Hey, let’s have a four year plan, a five year plan.’ You know, if you say to me, ‘Hey, we have a two-year plan,’ then I’m going to sign a bunch of free agents and do this. So what was a four-year plan became a two-year, five-game plan pretty quickly.”
So, in other words, Rhule would have done better sooner if he knew that he was expected to do better sooner.
“I’m not angry about it,” added Rhule. “At the end of the day, I understand. But if it’s going to be that fast, then let’s sign some more free agents, let’s do blockbuster trade, let’s do this stuff. I think the trajectory we were on was correct.”
It’s not like they don’t try to make a blockbuster trade. They wanted Deshaun Watson. He didn’t want them. No talented veteran quarterbacks with options opted for the Panthers.
Perhaps it was Rhule that made them retreat. Maybe it was owner David Tepper. Maybe it was something else.
Regardless, Rhule’s comments ring hollow. There are no four- or five-year plans in the NFL, and the Panthers were really trying to make the difference that would help them win now. They just couldn’t make it happen.
The more likely truth is that Rhule opted not for the safety of a supposed four or five year plan, but for the money Tepper was paying. The Giants, who also wanted Rhule, wouldn’t even think of matching the seven-year, $62 million package that Tepper gave Rhule.
Ultimately, this is what led Rhule to take the job. Perhaps he regrets prioritizing money over winning potential. Perhaps he regrets working for Tepper, who seems inclined to meddle more than most landlords.
Regardless, the idea that Rhule regrets taking the job because he thought it would take four or five years to show real progress is hard to swallow given that the NFL doesn’t work that way anymore — and hasn’t in decades.