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Matt Rhule trying to cross-train coaches, be adaptable

The Panthers new owner David Tepper didn't take any chances with Christian McCaffrey by giving him a massive new contract.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule has been planning to be an NFL coach for years.

Since exactly nothing has gone according to plan since he became one, he’s emphasizing the need to adjust.

That has the rookie head coach trying to stay upbeat during a pandemic which will prevent him from actually working with his team until training camp, as well as in his methods.

“I’ve coached at Temple and at Baylor, and my players will probably tell you we didn’t have a lot of advantages when we got there,” Rhule stold Peter King of NBC’s Football Morning in America. “Just figure it out. Figure it out, bro. Really, that’s the key to life.”

Of course, that was going to be the case for the Panthers anyway, as they start over practically from scratch, with a new head coach, two coordinators who lacked much NFL experience, and a roster stripped of most of its veteran talent.

So as they put things together, they’re going to have to know each other inside-out. Toward that end, Rhule has defensive coordinator Phil Snow sit in on offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s meetings, and vice versa. He’ll drop by at a moment’s notice, the kind of “walk-around coach” move he picked up from Bill Parcells. He’s also giving assistants more specific teaching points to present to the rest of the staff, mini-clinics such as tackling technique or specific route concepts against particular coverages.

“Over the years,” Rhule said, “I just felt like there was a real disconnect between how much offense the defensive coaches know, and how much defense the offensive coaches know. And so that’s just allowed me I think to be really confident as a head coach. I’m not some guru, but I do know enough about every position on the field. The ones I haven’t been an expert at, I’ve hired really good coaches there. I’ll learn from them. It’s my job as a head coach to have players play their best football when they play for me. . . .

“You can’t ask the players to learn the full game if our coaches don’t do that. I think that all comes from my background.”

Rhule’s coached linebackers, defensive line, special teams, offensive lines, quarterbacks, tight ends, and served as recruiting coordinator during his days in college, and managed a pair of impressive reclamation projects in his last two stops. So he’s used to a lot of different methods, and less-than-perfect starting points.

Which is good training for what he’s doing now.