Matt Rhule isn’t happy that he failed to make the playoffs during his first season with the Panthers. That puts Teddy Bridgewater’s job in serious jeopardy.
No one really expected Matt Rhule to lead the Panthers to the playoffs this season. That doesn’t mean the first-year head coach was satisfied with his team’s 5-11 regular-season record. Carolina’s mediocrity in 2020 may cost Teddy Bridgewater his status as the team’s starting quarterback.
At the very least, the Panthere are actively investigating other options. The news that Dwayne Haskins is already visiting Carolina is raising eyebrows around the league. He flamed out spectacularly in Washington, but he’s still young enough to be a possible reclamation project for Rhule and his coaching staff. He wouldn’t immediately be installed as a starter over Bridgewater if he does sign with the team, but landing him would initiate a quarterback controversy of sorts in Carolina.
There’s also a strong possibility that Rhule directs the front office to spend a high draft pick on a signal-caller capable of challenging Bridgewater for the No. 1 spot on his depth chart. The Panthers currently possess the No. 8 pick in the draft. That’s not good enough to land Trevor Lawrence, but it could put Carolina in the frame one of the other talented quarterbacks projected to go in the top-10. Someone like Justin Fields or Zach Wilson could learn for one season behind Bridgewater before ultimately supplanting him as the team’s starter in 2022.
It’s also possible that the Panthers are doing everything possible this offseason to light a fire under Bridgewater. His first year as the team’s starter wasn’t without positives. The Panthers were competitive in almost all of their games despite their poor final record. Bridgewater deserves some criticism for failing to get his team over the hump in all those close games, but he also deserves a measure of credit for keeping the Panthers competitive despite being frequently outmatched in terms of talent.
The Panthers also understand that some of Bridgewater’s struggles can be attributed to injuries to big-name offensive teammates like Christian McCaffrey and Russell Okung. McCaffrey’s lengthy injury absence left Carolina without their most dangerous offensive playmaker.
Losing Okung destabilized Bridgewater’s blindside. He is a quarterback that needs a solid pocket to thrive. It’s understandable that his passing efficiency dipped whenever he was pressured from the backside.
In the end, the Panthers’ future transactions at the quarterback position will make their opinion of Bridgewater crystal clear before the 2021 season kicks off. It’s a storyline that will dominate Carolina’s offseason until a resolution is reached.