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David Tepper: 'Now was the time' to fire Matt Rhule

The Panthers have lost 11 of their last 12 games under Rhule, who finished his tenure 11-27 overall.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper said he "felt now was the time" to fire head coach Matt Rhule.

Rhule was fired Monday by the Carolina Panthers following Sunday's 37-15 loss at home to the San Francisco 49ers.

"I had a conversation with coach this morning. It was short, cordial. He's a gentleman. A true gentleman," Tepper explained. "There's numerous reasons why you make a decision like that. Ultimately, I felt this was a time. Now was a time."

San Francisco dominated Sunday's contest at Bank of America Stadium, dropping the Panthers to 1-4 on the season. The game followed the script the rest of the season has to this point for Carolina, as the offense struggled to move the ball against the stingy 49ers defense. To make matters worse, Baker Mayfield was seen in a walking boot after leaving the game in the fourth quarter following a sack. 

RELATED: Baker Mayfield out vs Rams game with high ankle sprain, reports say

With the loss, Rhule's overall record as Panthers coach slipped to 11-27. Sunday was also the 25th straight game the Panthers have lost when allowing at least 17 points, falling to 1-27 under Rhule in such games. 

Rhule is owed more than $40 million by the Panthers, according to ESPN insider Adam Schefter, but some of his buyout could potentially be offset if Rhule takes another head coaching job in college or the NFL.

RELATED: Steve Wilks named Panthers interim head coach

"We have a lot of season left," Tepper said. "I'd rather talk about the season left right now with Steve Wilks as coach." 

Steve Wilks will serve as the interim for the rest of the season. The 53-year-old spent one year as the Cardinals head coach after spending six years on Ron Rivera's staff in Carolina.

Wilks could be in the running for the job permanently.

"Ultimately, he's in a position to be in consideration for that position," Tepper said Monday. "I had a talk with Steve: No promises were made. But obviously, if he does an incredible job, he'd have to be in consideration for that."

"For me, it's taken a while to get here, but it's well past time for the Carolina Panthers to move off Matt Rhule as their head coach," Julian Council, host of Locked On Panthers, said. "It's unfortunate, this is the hand-picked coach that David Tepper wanted herein Carolina. Matt Rhule just has not been able to coach a winning football team."

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Despite a 1-4 record, and one of the NFL's worst offenses to date, multiple players came to Rhule's defense Sunday. Those players included defensive standout Brian Burns and running back Christian McCaffrey

Ultimately, Rhule's inability to find the right quarterback sealed his fate. After missing on Teddy Bridgewater in 2020, the Panthers took a risk and traded for Sam Darnold. When Darnold faltered, the team made a late-summer trade for Mayfield, who has played the worst football of his career since joining the Panthers. 

"We're fine in that locker room when it comes to that," Mayfield said of Rhule's job security. "There's a lot of plays we have to make. He can't do that for us. I'm speaking from an offensive standpoint."

Mayfield confirmed after the game that he will have an MRI on his left ankle. His status for this Sunday's game at the Los Angeles Rams is still unknown. 

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