Even before the season began, it was more of when, and not if, Matt Rhule began 2022 sitting squarely in the hot seat among coaches. As the oddsmakers predicted, he was the first coaching casualty of the season. The “when” turned out to be within 24 hours of an embarrassing, 37-15 Week 5 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Rams were also just drilled by the Niners. That wasn’t really the issue here. Rather, Rhule’s godawful 1-27 record when the Panther defense surrendered at least 17 points was what did him in.  So, under Rhule, Carolina has had very good offensive players. They never had a good offense, the only way they could muster wins was when their defense dominated the game.

This will be the first attempted fix for interim coach Steve Wilks. The former Arizona Cardinals’ coach had been a defensive assistant in Carolina, and now he’s been elevated to the top.

Carolina, 1-4 on the season, travels to Inglewood Sunday and a date against the Super Bowl- champion LA Rams. It’s not surprising the Panthers are double-digit ‘dogs, as per NFL odds.


So, not only was Wilks unsuccessful as the Cards’ coach (fired after going 3-13 in 2018), he comes from the defensive side of the ball. It is assumed Panthers’ owner David Tepper prefers to hire a coach who’s offensive-minded, then find a quarterback to pair with him. Roll out the “suspects” in Charlotte,

Sean Payton

As long as Sean Payton is an unemployed coach, he will be the first on any of these lists. However, a big caveat to luring Payton is the Saints holding his rights until 2024, and what are the chances they negotiate those rights with a division opponent? They’re not great.

Tepper has plenty of money, so, to steal a line out of the movies, he may make Payton an offer he can’t refuse. He also has good players and draft capital to offer New Orleans, so perhaps this idea isn’t far-fetched.

Sean Payton

Shane Steichen 

You don’t know the name Shane Steichen, however you do know his work. He’s been the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia under Nick Sirianni, and his unit is in the top five this season in both points and yards.

He has helped develop Jalen Hurts, and was in Los Angeles as the offensive coordinator during Justin Herbert’s rookie season with the Chargers. That turned out pretty well.

He’s just 37, highly thought of by players and coaches, and he would bring innovation to the Carolina offense that was missing for the entirety of the Matt Rhule era/error.


Jonathan Gannon

Staying in Philly, another possibility is Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. He’s worked exclusively on the defensive side of the ball as a coach, but was a Rams’ scout (three seasons), providing a broader background than his coaching resume might otherwise suggest.

Philadelphia had a top-10 defense last season under Gannon, now a top-five unit, The league’s only undefeated team, now the 5-0 Eagles are tied with the Kansas City Chiefs as second choices (+650) to win the title, according to Super Bowl odds.

Jonathan Gannon

Next Out?

Rhule’s gone, and so are defensive coordinator Phil Snow and special teams coach Ed Foley. It’s not clear just how deep the rebuild in Carolina is going to go. General manager Scott Fitterer is still employed. Tepper said that it’s premature to make a decision about Fetterer and 2023.

There is, however, a window right now to have Fetterer try to remake this team, and at the same time possibly justifying his job. There are also many teams around the NFL that would happily join in remaking the Panthers.

Running back Christian McCaffrey is tremendous, which is why there are rumored to be a number of suitors. He’s also due to make $20 million in each of the next two seasons, which is why the Panthers might be willing to “ditch” him. 

The Buffalo Bills have reportedly inquired about McCaffrey, and the Los Angeles Rams would also make a lot of sense, considering their offensive issues to begin the season. Running back Javonte Williams is out for the season, and maybe 2023 as well, so perhaps the Denver Broncos are a trade partner.

Wide receiver D.J. Moore is also being mentioned as being on the market before the Nov. 1st trade deadline. He just signed a three-year, $61.8 million extension, and is still just 25 years old.

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