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Panthers Coach Matt Rhule’s Former College QB Commit Could Be the Key to Saving His Job in Carolina

A former college football player and one-time NFL hopeful who’s back in the game with a new shot at coaching told Yahoo Sports he believes his success is because of recently retired Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

The “north carolina panthers” is a team that has been struggling for years. They have had coaches come and go, but their current coach Matt Rhule might be the key to saving his job.

Highlights of the article:

  • In the 2022 NFL Draft, Matt Rhule and the Carolina Panthers must choose Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett.
  • The Heisman Trophy contender for 2021 signed to Temple University to play under Rhule.
  • In the next months, the Panthers must work out their quarterback position.

Matt Rhule, the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, ate his breakfast as the man in command of a 3-0 club on Friday, Sept. 24. The two-time NFC champs seemed to be in for a fun and hectic few months after many disappointing seasons.

At least for their opponents, the Panthers’ season has been entertaining. Carolina has gone 2-9 since defeating the hapless Houston Texans in Week 3 and has officially sealed a fourth consecutive losing season. If Rhule wins a third season with the Panthers and wants to remain, he and his front office must focus on Pittsburgh quarterback and top 2022 NFL Draft prospect Kenny Pickett.

Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers and Kenny Pickett of the Pittsburgh Steelers were almost teammates at Temple.

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule (L) and Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett in 2021.

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule (L) and Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett in 2021. In the 2022 NFL Draft, Matt Rhule (L) and the Carolina Panthers must pursue Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett | Mark Brown Logan Whitton/Getty Images; via Getty Images

Rhule wasn’t always the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Instead, he was the head coach of Temple University in Philadelphia, a mid-major football team. 

Rhule coached an Owls team that finished 10-4 and advanced to the Boca Raton Bowl the previous year in the spring of 2016. Kenny Pickett, a New Jersey high school quarterback approaching his senior year, also pledged to play for him. Pickett, a three-sport athlete at Ocean Township High School in Oakhurst, New Jersey, wanted to remain close to home and attend Temple University, which is about 80 miles away. 

During his senior year, though, Pickett’s recruiting intensified, and he finally signed with the University of Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Rhule took over at Baylor, which was in urgent need of stability after the alleged participation of previous head coach Art Briles in the suppression of sexual assault allegations involving student-athletes.

In 2022, if the Panthers keep Rhule and offer him a third season as head coach, he may finally get the chance to work with Pickett. The Panthers are projected to choose seventh overall in the 2017 NFL draft as of this writing. Pickett, who is 24 years old and will play in the 2022 season, completed 67.2 percent of quarterback passes for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns, and seven interceptions last season.

Pickett could not only play under Rhule next year, but he would still be a Panther. The game of football has an odd sense of humour.

The Panthers and Rhule must make sure they get a shot to pick Pickett next spring.

The Panthers’ 10-20 record under Rhule is due to more than just quarterback performance. With that said, the inconsistencies behind center and the persistent ailments to former All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey haven’t helped matters.

Pickett’s chances of becoming an above-average quarterback, much alone a star or a frequent Pro Bowl candidate, are little to none. The Panthers, on the other hand, need a genuine new start at quarterback, and they must give a fair shot to someone who will be able to hold the position for numerous seasons.

Purchasing in the off-season After a strong start, Sam Darnold has battled with interceptions and is suddenly a non-factor. Teddy Bridgewater, a 2020 signee, was dealt to the Denver Broncos earlier this year after the Panthers seemingly given up on him. Cam Newton has been a good running back (183 yards and five touchdowns in five games) but a terrible quarterback in his previous three appearances, with a 46.3 completion % and a 1-4 TD-INT ratio.

Pickett is presently expected to go in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, although he is not a consensus top-10 selection. Because the Panthers passed on Alabama’s Mac Jones and Ohio State’s Justin Fields this year, they’ll be forgiven if they slightly overpay for Pickett.

Pickett adds to a struggling Panthers team experience, arm power, and awareness. He’ll be 24 for the full 2022 season, which might persuade other clubs, particularly those in the midst of a rebuild, to go for a younger quarterback in the draft — or an older, more experienced quarterback in free agency or by trade.

The Panthers need to find a quarterback who can change the franchise’s long-term trajectory.

The Panthers have not officially said if Rhule will return in 2022 as of writing. It’s worth mentioning that George Seifert, the team’s full-time coach from 1999 to 2001, is the first full-time coach in Panthers history to fail to complete a fourth season. Jerry Richardson, who started the club in 1995, oversaw the hirings until the team was sold in 2018. Rhule’s destiny will be decided by David Tepper and general manager Scott Fitterer.

Regardless of whether Rhule returns, the Panthers must find a quarterback solution. Darnold and Newton aren’t it, and if the organization wants to see what P.J. Walker has to offer, now could be the best moment to do it.

Matt Corral of Ole Miss is a predicted top-10 draft selection if Pickett isn’t available or the Panthers don’t want him. Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson, for example, might be available through trade – or free agency in Rodgers’ case – depending on how he and the Packers go.

One thing is certain at this point. Rhule might be back on the collegiate sidelines in 2023 if the Panthers’ quarterback woes persist into next season.

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