Panthers HC Matt Rhule on if he'll bench Baker Mayfield: 'I don't think it's right to speak on it right now'

In the wake of the Carolina Panthers' third loss of the season, a 26-16 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, some think it's time to ask about what changes can be made to help the team do better long term.

But when asked after the game Sunday afternoon, head coach Matt Rhule said he didn't have a clear answer yet for why his team is not performing at the level he and others have expected so far.

"It just wasn't good enough," Rhule said in his press conference. "Offensively, I think we have to go back and look at everything and see what we can do better, see what we're doing well, and try to fix what ails us right now, because it took a toll on us tonight."

Rhule was asked whether he felt like it was time to consider benching quarterback Baker Mayfield after his performance Sunday. Mayfield went 22-for-36 passing for 197 yards, and had two interceptions and one touchdown pass against the Cardinals. His 61.9 passer rating was his lowest of the season, but none of his four starts as a Panther have resulted in a rating over 100.

The coach avoided saying if it was time to make a change, saying he couldn't make any decisions as he hasn't reviewed film of the game.

"I'm going to refrain from anything big picture until tomorrow. 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," Rhule said. "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."

Another thing to consider is that the Panthers' previous starter, Sam Darnold, could be ready to play within the next few weeks after recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered during the preseason. Rhule did not have an update on Darnold's progress on Sunday, and repeated that he wouldn't be rushing toward any decision about the quarterback position before he could evaluate everything thoroughly.

"Offensively, we have to score more points. ... So yeah, we have to get it corrected, but in terms of any one person I just don't think it's right to speak on it right now," Rhule said.

Darnold hasn't been an incredibly successful starter himself, going 4-7 in his 11 starts last year for Carolina, but he could still be an option if Rhule does end up deciding that things aren't working with Mayfield under center. He has experience with the offense and was considered for the starting role this season before Mayfield won the spot.

So with questions about the state of the Panthers offense swirling, Rhule has to figure out what the best option is for his team to succeed. Whether that means replacing Mayfield or just working within the existing offense is yet to be determined, but no matter what, Rhule knows after Sunday's performance something will need to change.

"Obviously I know that it wasn't good enough, and that the numbers aren't what they need to be in a lot of areas," Rhule said. "I have to really go back and see why is this happening, why are we not playing better than this, because I know we have the personnel on offense to make plays, and it's just not coming together the way it needs to."

Carolina will face the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5.

Related Content