Sunday, December 4

Panthers’ Matt Rhule doesn’t rule out benching Baker Mayfield after Week 4 loss: We’re ‘not good enough’

Four games in, the Panthers may or may not be ready to pull the plug on the Baker Mayfield experiment. Now 1-3 after Sunday’s 26-16 loss to the Cardinals, Carolina hasn’t gotten much production from the former Browns quarterback this year, and his two interceptions in Week 4 helped doom the offense. Afterward, coach Matt Rhule wasn’t ready to predict changes at the position, but wasn’t ready to rule any out, either, leaving the door open for Mayfield to be benched ahead of Week 5.

“I’m going to refrain from anything big picture until tomorrow,” Rhule said, per NFL.com. “At the end of the day, I’m on the headset, I see the things, I know that it’s never just one person here, one person there, it’s a lot of different things, so I’ll try to give you a really well-thought-out answer after watching tapes. All that being said, I believe that we can play better than that. I just feel like we have to expect more from all of us as an offense, and it starts with me first.

“We have to get it corrected,” Rhule continued, “but in terms of any one person I just don’t think it’s right to speak on it right now.”

“Right now,” of course, is the key phrasing. The Panthers are obviously 1-3 this year — and now a combined 11-26 under Rhule — for many reasons. But QB has been the steadiest and/or most apparent issue for the club ever since Rhule took over. It’s not as if Mayfield entered with surefire job security, either, competing with former Jets castoff Sam Darnold for the starting job into the preseason. In four games with the Panthers, Mayfield has thrown four touchdowns and three interceptions, completing just 54 percent of his passes and posting a QB rating of 74.98, one of the worst among active starters.

Asked Sunday whether Darnold, who is recovering from a preseason high-ankle sprain, would be available in the coming weeks as a replacement, Rhule did not specify when Mayfield’s predecessor could return. The only other active QB on the Panthers’ depth chart is backup P.J. Walker, who’s primarily served as the No. 3 signal-caller.





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