Panthers fire Matt Rhule after 1-4 start; Wilks takes over

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule speaks during a news conference after their loss against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. The Panthers have fired coach Matt Rhule following a 1-4 start to the season, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday, Oct. 10, because the team has not yet announced the decision. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman) (Jacob Kupferman, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The Carolina Panthers fired coach Matt Rhule on Monday, ending the former Baylor coach’s tenure five games into his third losing season.

Rhule, the first NFL coach to be fired this season, went 11-27 with Carolina. The Panthers fell to 1-4 with Sunday’s 37-15 home loss to San Francisco as 49ers fans made Bank of America Stadium their East Coast home.

Defensive pass game coordinator and secondary coach Steve Wilks will serve as interim coach for the rest of the season. The 53-year-old Wilks spent one year as Arizona’s head coach in 2018, going 3-13.

The 47-year-old Rhule was lured away from Baylor with a seven-year, guaranteed $62 million contract by David Tepper, the second-wealthiest owner in the NFL.

Rhule’s teams went 5-11 in 2020 and 5-12 last year.

Tepper was initially patient with Rhule following Sunday’s loss, but grew increasingly agitated and changed his mind on Monday.