The 2022 season is a make-or-break year for Matt Rhule, Sam Darnold and Christian McCaffrey, and if either of them perform below expectations it could mean a departure from Carolina.
These three members each possess an element that makes their job security under fire, at least if they plan to be a part of the Carolina Panthers organization, and each will be discussed as to why.
Long gone are the days of dynasties and tenured coaches in the NFL. It seems even the longest coaching, player duos do not yield successful results, except for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. In a league like the NFL coaches turn teams around quickly or not at all, and personnel brought in to assist include that.
Since Matt Rhule took over the head coaching position, Carolina posted 5-12 records in both years. In year three of a seven-year contract, Rhule needs improvement from the team, or it may mean the door.
Owner David Tepper wants a crowd, wants the money Carolina brings him, but if the team is abysmal, no one will support it. That’s one reason, and it may be small, but when a team does not perform, the coach is usually to blame.
Furthermore, the offense is far from ready to be a winning team. Besides McCaffrey and DJ Moore, there are no real threats on that side of the ball, and this hinders the Panthers. The defense is much the same, except for Brian Burns and maybe Jaycee Horn, no one strikes fear in opponents.
This inability to produce a good team, ultimately falls on Rhule, and with no great way to rebuild right now, it will fall on Rhule and his staff.
He impressed fans in the opening three games, but the season soured and now Darnold may be teetering between starting quarterback and out of the door in December.
The reason being that Carolina drafted Matt Corral and he is pegged as the QB of the future. Also, if Corral does not fit the bill, then maybe Carolina tries again with a pick in the 2023 draft where quarterbacks are more talented and plentiful than the 2022 class.
In the 2022 season, Carolina brought back Cam Newton, and the two platooned time at points during the season, and that showed the Panthers did not put all its’ faith in Darnold.
Darnold’s numbers are less than impressive as he threw more interceptions than touchdowns and has done so in every season. He is owed a ton of money from the Jets, and if he fails in the black and blue, Carolina will look to Corral and try to shed Darnold’s contract.
Possibly the most secure but could leave under the wrong circumstances and here is why.
He signed a huge contract, and since then played 10 games in two seasons, now that can be poor coaching tactics and a heavily reliance on him, but for the contract he is under performing.
This year if healthy and the player he was in the 2019, then he should be fine and his job secure.
But if he fails to produce adequate numbers or gets injured, then Carolina may trade him in hopes of getting something decent in return. The reason his job is on the line is simply because he can be great when healthy, but that’s an if and can work both ways. He’s injured again or terrible, then maybe a team takes a shot on him, and the Panthers get something back.
The contract is huge, and it is time Carolina see something worthwhile for it.
This is all speculation but heading into 2022 these are the jobs that are most under fire, and most talked about if things go south for the Panthers. If Carolina fails it is possible one or multiple personnel discussed are gone.