Panthers fire coach Matt Rhule; Baker Mayfield is expected to miss game vs. Rams
The Carolina Panthers fired coach Matt Rhule on Monday, ending the former Baylor coach’s tenure five games into his third losing season.
Rhule, the first NFL coach to be fired this season, went 11-27 with Carolina. The Panthers fell to 1-4 with Sunday’s 37-15 home loss to San Francisco as 49ers fans made Bank of America Stadium their East Coast home.
Defensive pass game coordinator and secondary coach Steve Wilks will serve as interim coach for the rest of the season. The 53-year-old Wilks spent one year as Arizona’s head coach in 2018, going 3-13. He will make his Panthers head coaching debut Sunday against the Rams at SoFi Stadium.
The Rams, now 2-3 after a home loss to Dallas, have never looked worse under coach Sean McVay, who admits everything is “not good enough.”
The 47-year-old Rhule was lured away from Baylor with a seven-year, guaranteed $62-million contract by David Tepper, the second-wealthiest owner in the NFL.
Rhule’s teams went 5-11 in 2020 and 5-12 last year.
Tepper was initially patient with Rhule following Sunday’s loss, but grew increasingly agitated and changed his mind Monday.
The Panthers hoped Rhule could turn things around in his third year as he did at Baylor and at Temple before that. The team had constant turnover at quarterback under Rhule, with Teddy Bridgewater as the starter in 2020 and Sam Darnold and Cam Newton getting starts last year.
The Panthers traded for Baker Mayfield this offseason. But the 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick has not played well, completing 54.9% of his passes and averaging fewer than 200 yards passing per game with four touchdowns and four interceptions.
In other Panthers news, Mayfield has been diagnosed with a high left ankle sprain and is expected to miss several games, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The person, who said Mayfield is expected to get a second opinion, spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the team has not yet released details of the injury.
P.J. Walker is expected to start Sunday against the Rams.
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