Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper gives votes of confidence to coach Matt Rhule, QB Sam Darnold

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, talking to press reporters Wednesday for the very first time considering that Matt Rhule went 5-11 and 5-12 in his very first 2 seasons, provided a strong vote of self-confidence to his head coach.

Tepper advised that when Rhule was provided a seven-year handle January 2020 he stated it might take 5 years to construct a company efficient in continual quality.

He included “maybe it’ll be six years” on Wednesday.

“I think in Matt. He has my complete assistance,” Tepper stated in a 30-minute Zoom session. “… I am a fan. I don’t like to lose. Who likes to lose? I want to win. But it takes time and it takes a foundation, and it takes time to create the foundation to win. I do believe Coach Rhule and [general manager] Scott [Fitterer] have done a great job of creating that foundation.”

Tepper also gave a vote of confidence to Sam Darnold on the eve of Thursday’s NFL draft in which quarterback remains on the table for Carolina with the No. 6 pick.

“I do wish to state something, I do believe we have a great quarterback in Sam Darnold,” Fitterer stated in action to what quarterbacks in this year’s draft can getting Carolina to a Super Bowl. “That wasn’t your question, but I’ll just say that.”

Darnold was 4-7 last year as Carolina’s starter and is 17-32 overall since the New York Jets made him the third pick of the 2018 draft.

Tepper noted Darnold was 3-0 last season before running back Christian McCaffrey was injured. He also noted Darnold suffered a shoulder injury that put him on injured reserve for four games.

“So there was a great deal of various things that occurred in 2015 that ideally will not duplicate this year that do offer me some hope,” stated Tepper, whose group has actually gone 22-43 considering that he paid an NFL-record $2.3 billion for the franchise in 2018.

Tepper likewise is urged Darnold can enhance with the upgrades to the offending line in totally free firm and the hiring of brand-new offending planner Ben McAdoo.

That does not prevent the Panthers from taking a quarterback in the draft. Fitterer stated on Tuesday he informed Darnold the group likely would include another quarterback through the weekend either through the draft or by getting a veteran.

Tepper comprehends the significance of getting the quarterback position right and how it might affect the future of Rhule.

“Unless you have that guy that for sure gets you to playoffs and Super Bowls, you have to keep reevaluating that because that’s the only thing that matters is Super Bowls,” Tepper said in December 2020, the last time he held a news conference.

On Wednesday, Tepper talked repeatedly on the importance of patience and building a foundation. Part of the offseason emphasis on building that foundation has been the offensive line, and left tackle remains a big question entering the draft.

There’s a good chance one or two of the top three left tackles — NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu, Alabama’s Evan Neal and Mississippi State’s Charles Cross — will be available at No. 6.

“I’ve stated it, ‘5 years, 5 years, 5 years’ from the time Coach Rhule was employed, it’s simply constructing that structure, having persistence to construct that structure, attempting to get fans to have persistence for that structure to have actually sustained winning,” Tepper stated.

“It’s hard to build that foundation. It’s hard. I have a new appreciation for just how stupid I am sometimes, quite frankly.”

Tepper, however, added that “winning does play” into choices, however he likes the setup for this season.

“There is a saying, what was then is then, what is now is now,” Tepper said. “And we remain in the now. We’re not in the then.

“If we have an expectation for continual winning we need to construct it. We need to have persistence. I wish to win now, however I understand you still need to have a structure.”

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