Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was well aware of the fans frustrations as he was pulled in the first half for Sam Darnold as chants of “Fire Matt Rhule’ rang out during that Panthers’ 32-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While Newton is unlikely to remain with the Panthers beyond this season, mainly due to his continued poor play, the 32-year old former MVP publicly backed Rhule as Panther coach following the game.
“Coach Rhule is a great coach,” Newton said, according to ESPN’s David Newton. “Last thing I checked, Coach Rhule wasn’t out there playing.
“I just know we’re a good football team. It may not look like that all the time, but I know what I see in practice and I know what I’ve seen over these last couple of weeks — we’re a good football team and we can win. It’s just about us believing we can win and not taking the easy route and be able to grunt games away.”
Newton also defended the decision to put Darnold in at quarterback and then use both Newton and Darnold under center throughout the game.
“I can tell you right now it wasn’t because of the coaching,” Newton said of Rhule’s decision. “It wasn’t because of what a person may have said or done. The truth of the matter is, we’re all playing for jobs.
“If you don’ think as a coach you wouldn’t do the right things to win and build your tenure here, you wouldn’t do it.”
“I come from Philadelphia,” Rhule said. “To me, it just shows people care. We’re not winning. I have no problem with that. People spend hard-earned money to come watch us play.
“When you’re the head coach, the quarterback, that’s all part of it. I would much prefer passion over apathy. I would much prefer pressure over nothing. I could do something else.”
“I hate it for our fans that we’re not winning,” said Rhule. “I know how much they want to win. I hear from them. I hear you.
“But when Dave hired me he said, ‘I want it done right. I want it done for the long term. I want you to build it with young players that grow.”’
“Football has been good to me,” Newton said. “I was able to walk away unscathed. I know it sounds like I’m retiring, but it’s been great memories. I do think about as we move forward that it takes more than one guy, it takes more than one talent, it takes more than a couple of guys.
“It takes unanimously everyone understanding what their role is and what they have to do.”
“We have some key areas we have to fix,” he said. “But I believe it’s 1,000 percent working. I just know no one can see it and I apologize.”