Panthers LB on Matt Rhule: If you don't buy in, you'll be gone

Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson has enjoyed playing for first-year NFL head coach Matt Rhule thus far

Tiki and Tierney
September 30, 2020 - 6:20 pm
Matt Rhule

USA Today Images


Matt Rhule got his first NFL win this past Sunday, guiding the Carolina Panthers (1-2) to a 21-16 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Rhule is still acclimating to the NFL, but based on his success in college football, it would seem the sky’s the limit for him in Carolina.

“Everything has been his way,” Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson said on Tiki & Tierney. “We’re all going to be on board and do everything the right way. If not, you may have to part. He’s making guys buy in. That’s what we’re starting to do. The good thing is we’re all starting to figure out and play for each other. We’re all starting to get comfortable with each other. Instead of just playing as a team, we’re playing for each other.”

Rhule’s track record speaks for itself. He went 2-10 in his first season at Temple in 2013 before going 10-4 in 2015 and 10-3 in 2016. He enjoyed a similar turnaround at Baylor, going from 1-11 in 2017 to 11-3 in 2019.

Then he replaced Ron Rivera in Carolina.

“It’s a little different, but he knows what he’s talking about,” Thompson said of playing for a former college coach. “He had success at Temple, at Baylor. He had success, so he knows what success is. He knows how his organization, his program or how he uses his process works. He’s been doing this since Temple, and all the guys who bought in, you can see what his record has been like. That’s what he’s doing here.”
The Panthers don’t just have a new head coach this year; they also have a new quarterback. Carolina released Cam Newton and signed Teddy Bridgewater this past offseason. 

Newton signed with New England and has led the Patriots to a 2-1 start.

“Cam’s doing a great job. Congrats to him,” Thompson said. “But Teddy is a great leader. He steps up when he needs to, he’s going to lead this team and he’s doing a good job with the offense and just making sure everybody comes together. . . . We’re a family.”

Carolina plays Arizona (2-1) this Sunday in a matchup of former Big 12 coaches. Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury, of course, used to coach at Texas Tech. 

The Panthers will have to slow down former Oklahoma standout Kyler Murray, who has eight touchdowns (four pass, four rush) and five interceptions on the season.

“You just got to keep him in that pocket,” Thompson said. “We know he hurts defenses when he’s outside of that pocket, just like a Russell Wilson. He hurts you when he’s outside the pocket, when he’s mobile, so we just got to make sure our D-Line keeps him in that pocket.”