Matt Rhule Promises Carolina Panthers Will Commit to Running; Joe Brady will remain playcaller

October 18, 2021

CHARLOTTE, NC – Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule won’t accept coordinator Joe Brady’s offensive play, but promised a “vastly” different appearance Sunday when the Panthers take on the New York Giants.

“We’re not going to line up and pitch 40 times a game and think that’s going to beat us,” Rhule said Monday. “He hasn’t. … So we’re going to redefine who we are, and we’re going to run football and we’re going to protect our quarterback and we’re not going to deliver the ball anymore.

“That’s the only way we’re going to win.”

The Panthers (3-3) have lost three straight games since a 3-0 start. They averaged 31 runs in the first three games compared to 25.6 in the last three.

They had just 23 runs in Sunday’s 34-28 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

That running back Christian McCaffrey has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury and is out for at least the next two after going on injured reserve has been a factor. Many of the short passes that McCaffrey turned into big plays were like runs.

Without McCaffrey, the teams featured wide receivers DJ Moore and Robby Anderson and rushed to five. That puts more pressure on quarterback Sam Darnold, who has thrown six interceptions in the last three games after throwing just one in the first three.

The Panthers have eight total turnovers during their losing streak, compared to two in the first three games. Rhule noted that all eight came on passing plays.

“If you say 16, 18, 19, 24, 25 runs, you better have an elite passing game,” Rhule said. “And right now that’s not our strength.”

Rhule said the “shame” of Sunday’s loss was that the Panthers were doing well with rookie running back Chuba Hubbard, who had 61 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

“We just haven’t committed enough to executing it,” Rhule said. “And that’s going to change. I can tell you right now.”

The league average for designed rush percentage this season is 37.5. Carolina is ranked 26th in the last three games at 33.7, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Rhule said he came into Sunday’s game wanting to run 33 times and would like to average that in the future. He didn’t blame Brady for the lack of balance.

However, Brady came to Carolina from LSU after helping quarterback Joe Burrow win the Heisman Trophy with 60 touchdown passes in 2019. The running game accounted for 34.1% of offense while the Tigers went undefeated and won the national title.

“Joe and I are great,” Rhule said. “We had a lot of plays [Sunday] He called races who died with a pass with a security blitz. We will just have to find ways to make football work in those situations. ”

The Panthers were also penalized offensively for calling for consecutive timeouts because the players were not lined up correctly or were confused by the call to play. Rhule called them “terribly poor works

Much of Rhule’s emphasis on the running game has to do with protecting Darnold, who has been sacked 12 times in the past three games without McCaffrey after being knocked down three times in the first two games.

Darnold’s total QBR without McCaffrey fell from 66 to 32.

Rhule believes that more racing and more balance will change that.

“Sam is not playing well enough,” Rhule said. “Let’s start there.”

But Rhule added that some of that falls to the staff for not doing a better job as a coach and to the players for not performing. Carolina had six passes thrown Sunday.

“We have to fix ourselves first,” Rhule said. “We shouldn’t panic. We don’t need to dump the baby with the bath water. We are 3-3 and we have to stop turning the ball and stop the run on defense.

“We are going to fix that this week.”