Panthers head coach Matt Rhule's job status might be the most polarizing storylines in both the city of Charlotte sports and in the NFL as the days go by and the owner of the team remains silent. Albert Breer of Monday Morning Quarterback said in answer a mailbag question on the site yesterday that nothing can be officially ruled out here because of what happened with Jeffrey Lurie and Doug Pederson a year ago where Pederson was let go more than a week after the conclusion of the season. On Thursday morning, Rhule took to the airwaves of WFNZ and talked to both the Mac Attack and the Wilson & Norfleet show to discuss his job status heading into year three and much, much more.
It's been a Panther filled Thursday on Sports Radio FNZ, as Panthers head coach Matt Rhule appeared on the Mac Attack and Wilson & Norfleet this morning to discuss the 2021 season, among other Panther related topics. Panthers GM Scott Fitterer joined the Clubhouse with Kyle Bailey not too long ago to complete the Panther media tour today, as the franchise made their head coach and GM available following a disappointing, 5-12 season. One of the many themes that came out of Rhule's conversation this morning was the Panthers plan at the quarterback position, which was a big reason why the team struggled in the second half of the year. The Panthers started three different quarterbacks in Sam Darnold, PJ Walker, and Cam Newton. Fitterer had this to say about the team's approach to the position heading into the 2022 off-season
While the expectation that the Panthers will end up keeping Matt Rhule for his third season with the Carolina Panthers, yesterday's firing of Joe Judge by the New York Giants has some wondering whether or not there is still a chance that David Tepper could still make the move for a new head coach. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk was on with the Panthers earlier this morning and said that we won't really know what the exact decision until Tepper comes out and confirms it. Florio believes that Jay Glazer, who reported that Daivd Tepper is looking for Matt Rhule to hire a rockstar offensive coordinator, is right and that Tepper could be waiting to see what Rhule comes up with before making an official decision, something that he says is crazy.
The Panthers season finally came to a close on Sunday, as the team lost their seventh straight game to finish the season 5-12. After returning from Tampa, the players met with the media for the final time yesterday, and one of the big talking points was quarterback Sam Darnold. Both his head coach Matt Rhule, and GM Scott Fitterer stood up for the maligned QB, saying that he will be back in 2022 and that picking up his 5th-year option wasn't a mistake. They better hope not, because that 5th-year option will cost the Panthers over $18 million on the books for next season, and with over 20 players set to hit free agency, that money could be used in other areas. What is unclear as of this moment, is what will Darnold's role be? Will he be the clear-cut starter? Will the Panthers bring in the competition via a trade or free agency? Will Matt Rhule draft him a franchise quarterback, to cement his standing in the NFL? Nobody knows as of today, but for more on the situation, Panthers beat writer for the Charlotte Observer, joined Wilson & Norfleet today and had this to say on the topic:
For the first time since 1980, Georgia Bulldogs fans are waking up as national champions in the sport of football. After four losses for Kirby Smart against his mentor Nick Saban, all of which saw Georgia hold double-digit leads, Smart helped rally the Bulldogs with 20 4th quarter points including two touchdown passes for quarterback Stetson Bennett who had looked rather shaky before then. The Georgia defense was picked apart by Bryce Young for 369 yards despite throwing a lot of pressure at him but the bowed up where it mattered, in the red zone. The Crimson Tide had four trips inside the 20 on the night, but came away with just one touchdown in large part due to the pressure that they were able to get on Young. The Bulldogs also forced Young into a couple of key mistakes, including the game-sealing pick-six by Kelee Ringo in the final minute of the game with Alabama attempting to drive the field.
The college basketball season has started to heat up, as conference play is in full swing. Believe it or not, we are just under 9 weeks away from receiving the 68 team bracket, for the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Duke entered the season with high expectations, as they brought in another loaded recruiting class, for Coach K's final season as their head coach. The Blue Devils have earned some marquee wins early on in the season, topping both Kentucky and Gonzaga on neutral floors. Their only blemish before Saturday's loss home to Miami was at Ohio State, a team with legitimate Big 10 title aspirations. One of those highly touted incoming freshmen was Paolo Banchero, who will be a lottery pick later this summer in the NBA Draft. While Banchero has lived up to the hype, as he's averaging over 17 points per game, you could make the argument he hasn't been the best player for Duke this season. That title belongs to junior Wendell Moore Jr, who is averaging over 16 points, nearly 6 rebounds, and 5 assists per game. After an up and down start to his college career, the game has slowed down for Moore, and he is reaping the benefits, and earning praise for his play. Former ACC standout Randolph Childress, joined the Mac Attack this morning, and had this to say about Moore's play"
The 2021 season came to a close yesterday for the Carolina Panthers, as they fell to the Tampa Bay Bucs 41-17, to finish the season with 7 straight defeats, and finish with an overall record of 5-12. The Panthers became the first team in NFL history to start a season 3-0 and finish with 12 losses, as Matt Rhule is just 10-23 as an NFL head coach. Despite that glaring record, Rhule is likely to be back for a third season. That has many Panther fans in an uproar, as they want more, expect more, and deserve more, than what they've gotten since Tepper ran Ron Rivera out of town. In his recent rebuilding stops at Temple and Baylor, Matt Rhule's teams won 11 games, but that was after taking a step in Year 2. That's what separates his rebuild in the NFL as opposed to the college game, is that his team didn't take that step, making it hard to imagine they will do so next. CBS Sports analyst Bryant McFadden, joined Wilson & Norfleet earlier today, and he echoed that same sentiment:
At the start of the season, when Carolina was 3-0 everyone was singing the praises of Matt Rhule. The praises went as far as him being named as a candidate for the LSU and USC openings back in college when those jobs came available. Those praises can't be found these days as the Panthers are 5-11, as they enter their season finale Sunday, at Tampa Bay. It has gone as far as even at non Panthers events like the most recent Hornets game, "Fire Matt Rhule" chants erupted at Spectrum Center. Earlier this week, NFL Insider Ian Rapoport came to the defense of Matt Rhule on the Mac Attack, and today, ESPN studio host Kevin Negandhi, joined Wilson and Norfleet earlier today and came to the defense of the former head coach of Negandhi's alma mater. Here is what Negandhi had to say about Matt Rhule:
With the Panthers heading into the final week of the regular season out of the playoff race, the focus for the Panther fan base seems to be on positioning the team in the best spot in the draft to get a piece that this team desperately needs. Left tackle is the spot that most people are looking at with the Panthers top ten pick with names like Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu and Charles Cross amongst those that are being looked at in this range as part of a strong tackle class.
Monday Georgia takes on Alabama in a rematch of the SEC title game, as the two college football powers will face-off for the national championship, in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Tide routed Georgia 41-24 back in December to clinch their spot in the 2021 College Football Playoff. Both teams earned impressive wins in the semifinals, as Bama took down Cincinnati 27-6, and Georgia made quick work of Michigan 34-11, setting up the rematch. The biggest question entering Monday's game, is can QB Stetson Bennett IV lead Georgia to that elusive championship? The Bulldogs haven't won a national title since the 1981 season when Herschel Walker carried the team all the way. To help answer that question, Dari Nowkhah, SEC Network host joined Wilson & Norfleet earlier today, and had this to say:
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