Panthers fire Matt Rhule, Steve Wilks to take over

Former Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks takes over for Matt Rhule as interim head coach

The Panthers fired head coach Matt Rhule after two-plus seasons on the job. Defensive pass game coordinator/secondary coach Steve Wilks will take over as interim head coach.

Rhule was hired from Baylor, where he turned a 1-11 team into an 11-3 team in three seasons. He struggled from the outset with a rebuilding Panthers team, however, going 5-11 in 2020 and 5-12 last season. The Panthers opened with four home games in the first five weeks and a new quarterback in former first overall pick Baker Mayfield, but the offense struggled, and the team went just 1-4.

Sunday’s home loss to San Francisco, in a home stadium seemingly more filled with 49ers fans than Panthers faithful, appeared to be the last straw for team owner David Tepper. Rhule signed a seven-year contract in 2020 and is expected to be a candidate for the Arizona State head coaching job. The Sun Devils fired head coach Herm Edwards earlier this season.

Wilks is a Charlotte native who went to West Charlotte High School and played at App State. He also played for the Charlotte Rage minor league football team in 1993 and spent several seasons on Ron Rivera’s Panthers staff as defensive backs coach, including the team’s trip to the Super Bowl following the 2015 season. He became the team’s defensive coordinator in 2017, then left the following season to spend one year as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, going 3-13. Since then, he’s served as defensive coordinator for the Browns and University of Missouri before returning to Rhule’s staff this season.