There’s a new era for the Carolina Panthers. They replaced former head coach Ron Rivera with Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, they released former 2015 MVP and signed Teddy Bridgewater, Luke Kuechly retired, and Greg Olsen signed with the Seattle Seahawks.
It’s odd to see a two-time Coach of the Year get fired in the middle of the season, but the Panthers hired a solid coach in Rhule. The former Temple and Baylor head coach might not turn the Panthers around in one year, but his resume in developing talent and a team is golden.
Rhule started at Temple in 2013 but started 2-10, but by 2015 Temple went 10-4 followed by a 10-3 season in 2016. In both seasons Temple would finish in the Top 25. Rhule would leave Temple for Baylor in 2017 and didn’t start hot with a 1-11 record. It took another two years for Rhule to rebuild a program as Baylor went 11-3 in 2019 and finished 8th in the AP rankings.
The Panthers are in a tough NFC South and perhaps might not be able to compete for the division between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The key for the Panthers is going to be patience, just like it was for Temple and Baylor fans.
The Saints are good enough until Drew Brees retires or their young talent hits the free agency market, then the Buccaneers have the same issue, but with Tom Brady. The Atlanta Falcons are built with veterans and a defense that’s going to need some rebuilding. The Panther are built for the future with a young offense and defense.
The Panthers have 13 key players that are 25 or younger: Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, Ian Thomas, Dennis Daley, Greg Little, Yetur Gross-Matos, Derrick Brown, Brian Burns, Jermaine Carter, Donte Jackson, Jeremy Chinn, and Eli Apple. Plus players that could be entering their prime like Teddy Bridgewater (27), Robby Anderson (27), John Miller (26), Taylor Morton (26), Stephen Weatherly (26), Shaq Thompson (26), Juston Burris (26), Tre Boston (27).
Last year the Panthers were the third oldest roster in the NFL, this year they could be one of the youngest. The Panthers might struggle this season, but with patience and Rhule developing the team, the Panthers are in good hands and have a bright future ahead of them.