Panthers' Rhule: I'm not 'up in some tower' making every roster move
After a season in which the Panthers finished 5-12 despite ranking second in the league in yards allowed per game, head coach Matt Rhule is coming under scrutiny for Carolina's failure to address its offense.
The Panthers ranked 29th in points per game and 30th in total offensive yards after they passed up on prospects like quarterbacks Justin Fields and Mac Jones, as well as offensive lineman Rashawn Slater, in the 2021 draft.
But Rhule made clear Thursday on Sports Radio WFNZ that he isn't solely responsible for Carolina's struggles.
"I'm not sitting in my office up in some tower running the entire football operation, making the draft, doing the free-agent stuff," he said.
However, in particular, Rhule defended Carolina's decision to use its eighth overall pick on a defender, cornerback Jaycee Horn, instead of someone like Slater, who's set to start in this year's Pro Bowl.
"Rashawn hadn't played the year before," Rhule said. "He wasn't (the) ideal tackle size, there were a lot of questions of, 'Hey, is he a guard?' Same thing with Alijah Vera-Tucker. It was really, 'Hey, are you going to take a guy who is a guard at this number?'"
Rhule added: "Passing on Rashawn, that's something I know people bring up. I just hope you guys understand from me when I walk in that locker room, Jaycee Horn has to look at me and say, 'Hey, that guy believes in me.' And we thought he was on his way to Defensive Rookie of the Year (before his injury)."
Rhule also explained Carolina's decision to trade for Sam Darnold, who threw for nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2021, instead of drafting Fields or Jones.
"We just kinda put Sam in that group with those young quarterbacks, so we made that decision, and time will tell," Rhule said. "I think Sam looked really good for three games. I think Sam's last game, he played really well."
However, Rhule made it clear that the Panthers' season wasn't good enough.
"Year 2, the record is the same, it's 5-12. It absolutely infuriates me and pisses me off," he said.
Rhule added: "When I say that the process is working, I don't mean that we had a good year this year, and I don't think anyone shouldn't be angry about this year."
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