‘I want to win at my first job’: Keys to getting Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule off the bench – Carolina Panthers Blog

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Matt Rhule tops many NFL coaching lists on the bench, but the Carolina Panthers’ third-year coach didn’t have to look far during this week’s joint practice with the New England Patriots to realize realize that this is not so. it means that he is necessarily doing something wrong.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was fired from his first job with the Cleveland Browns and has now won six Super Bowls.

Rhule also didn’t have to look any further than Belichick and what he did with Tom Brady to see the key to turning things around: a quarterback with the potential to become a franchise player.

That’s one of the reasons the Panthers considered acquiring Deshaun Watson, who has been accused of sexual assault and other misconduct during massage sessions in civil lawsuits filed by 25 women, during the offseason, and why they switched to Cleveland for Baker Mayfield after the Browns got Watson.

Rhule knows that finding the right quarterback won’t solve all the problems that led him to just five wins in each of his first two seasons as an NFL coach, but he knows it will help.

“Vince Lombardi once said that the only flaw in football is that it’s too position-dependent, and that’s the quarterback,” said Rhule, whose team plays the Patriots on Friday (7 pm ET, NFL Network). “We’ve done everything we can to try and find the guy that can win a Super Bowl for us.”

Could Mayfield be the difference?

Mayfield is on track to win the starting job after weeks of intense competition against Sam Darnold, and his play could determine whether Rhule falls into that long list of coaches who failed their first NFL job.

Tony Dungy, who won a Super Bowl in his fifth season in Indianapolis after being fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, gets it. He never had a franchise-capable quarterback until he inherited Peyton Manning with the Indianapolis Colts.

“You can win and be in the hunt without a great quarterback, but everything has to be perfect,” said Dungy, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. “When we got to Indy and had that magical quarterback, I discovered that things don’t have to be perfect.”

Mayfield doesn’t necessarily have to win a Super Bowl to secure Rhule’s future, but he does need to show the potential to be magical in the long run.

That’s why Belichick insists that having a franchise quarterback isn’t essential for early job security, but having a solid one helps.

“When we won the Super Bowl in 2001, I wouldn’t say Tom Brady had established himself as a franchise quarterback,” Belichick said. “When we won in 2014 and 2015, I would say he was a franchise quarterback. The name was the same, but I don’t think the player was the same.”

The Panthers hope Mayfield isn’t the player who struggled with the Browns last season while dealing with a shoulder injury that kept him from shooting. They are betting that he will be the player who helped the Browns go 11-5 and win the playoffs in 2020.

Mayfield isn’t worried. He exudes the same confidence in his abilities that Rhule has in his.

“It’s not a year of redemption,” Mayfield insisted. “I know what I’m capable of.”

Linked QB-coach futures?

Rhule doesn’t plan on joining the roster of Belichick, Dungy, Tom Coughlin, Pete Carroll, Jon Gruden and Andy Reid, coaches who were replaced in their first NFL head-coaching job and won a Super Bowl with their second or third equipment.

He also acknowledges that each of those coaches needed a big quarterback game — Brady with Belichick, Eli Manning with Coughlin, Peyton Manning with Dungy, Brad Johnson with Gruden, Patrick Mahomes with Reid — to win a title.

From that point of view, Rhule’s immediate future could be tied to Mayfield’s, and vice versa.

“I want to win at my first job,” Rhule said. “But the key is that there are great lessons that you go through, the successes and the humbling.”

Rhule has been humbled over the past two seasons, from losing and replacing many coaches on his original staff to the COVID-19 pandemic preventing him from developing the personal relationships that were key to past successes.

But his biggest failure has been as a quarterback. He missed Teddy Bridgewater starting in 2020 and Darnold starting last season. He missed out on bringing back 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton, who went 0-5 in 2021.

But Belichick, for example, thinks Rhule knows how to coach.

“I have a lot of respect for Matt Rhule,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for the way he approaches the game. It’s a type of football, so we have a lot in common there.”

The patience of the property also helps

“If you’re blessed to have Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, you’re going to be in the hunt every year, but you’re still not going to win a Super Bowl every year,” Dungy said. “A strong owner is also needed.”

Dungy doesn’t know enough about Panthers owner David Tepper to know if he’ll have patience with Rhule. He doesn’t know Mayfield well enough to know if he can do for Carolina what Matthew Stafford did in leading the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl last season after an 86-95-1 record with Detroit.

But he knows too often owners give up on good coaches, just as coaches sometimes give up on good quarterbacks, saying patience is a “lost art.”

Patience has been Rhule’s strength. He had losing records in his first two seasons at Temple and Baylor before winning in his third season. His past makes him confident that he can turn things around with the Panthers.

That past, like this week’s present with Belichick, is also a reminder that the quarterback’s game is key.

“So that’s the kind of process we’re in right now,” Rhule said. that gives you the best chance to succeed.”

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