Could Panthers still fire Matt Rhule if hiring processes go south?

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Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule may have escaped “Black Monday” and the rest of the week that followed, but he may not be out of the woods quite yet.

Of course, we’re all well-versed at this point on last Sunday’s report from Jay Glazer—who suggested Rhule’s status could be hinging on his choice of offensive coordinator. The FOX NFL insider, prior to the Week 18 slate, noted that the second-year coach might need to hire a “rockstar” play-caller to keep himself in the good graces of owner David Tepper.

Well, another rock-solid reporter followed up on Glazer’s claim, pointing to the precedent set by the Philadelphia Eagles and their dismissal of Doug Pederson from a year ago.

“I haven’t talked to Glazer about it, but what I think he was saying here is that the owner will have to buy in on Rhule’s vision for that side of the staff, which aligns with what I believe—and wrote last Friday,” Albert Breer of MMQB wrote in his recent mailbag feature. “The fact is, because Rhule and Tepper are such strong personalities, nothing was going to be for sure until they talked through the direction of the team in looking back at Rhule’s first two years and forward into his third.

“There was always the chance, and maybe there still is a chance, that this goes the way Philly did last year, when owner Jeffrey Lurie and coach Doug Pederson simply couldn’t get on the same page through a week of meetings, and the Eagles let Pederson go eight days after the season ended. Could that still happen with Carolina and Rhule? I don’t think it will. But the coordinator search should at least make everyone certain the fit between owner and coach is still there.”

According to a report from ESPN’s Tim McManus on the day of that firing, Lurie did not believe Pederson presented him with a “sound vision” on how to move the Eagles and their various issues through the future. That’s a pretty similar circumstance Rhule is currently facing after not only wrapping up the campaign on a seven-game losing streak, but then having parted ways with his special teams coordinator, offensive line coach and defensive line coach two days later.

While it remains likely Rhule hangs on, as Breer opined, Philadelphia’s decision as well as Tepper’s absence from the public spotlight since season’s end could make for an interesting week ahead.

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