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Matt Rhule Could Afford To Relax Just A Smidge At The Senior Bowl

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 19: Head coach Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers reacts from the sidelines during the first half of the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 19, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Photo: Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Senior Bowl is the last opportunity for NFL staffs to evaluate some incoming draft prospects in a team environment, which means leading one of the teams for a week is less of a chore and more of a useful window to scout players. It’s even more useful this year with the pandemic canceling the combine. For Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule, however, it is also a valuable chance to do some hard coaching and make clear his philosophy of obedience. Don’t try to get away with a simple “Yes sir” around him. Look your coach in the eye and have a “FOOTBALL conversation”!

Rhule unintentionally presents a meatheaded synthesis of how football worships through-the-whistle, no-plays-off toughness, and he’s doing it at the Senior Bowl. Sure, more obscure prospects can make their name at the event, but they’re mainly trying not to get hurt before the draft. It’s a barely coherent speech that hinges on him being loud. He seems a bit unsure about whether he wants a more convincing performance of coachability, or simply more discipline. Chill the hell out, man:

Earlier this week, Rhule shared another time when he approached the pre-draft process with asymmetric intensity. In an interview published Tuesday at the Panthers’ team site, Rhule said he eliminated a top 2020 prospect from contention on the basis of vibes, and it only took him one elevator ride:

“There was a player last year, and I won’t say who, but was supposed to be drafted pretty highly,” Rhule said Tuesday. “And I got in the elevator with him at the Combine, and I was like, by the end of that elevator ride, I was like, ‘There’s no way that guy will be a fit with us.'”

Panthers.com

Illuminating. Even more illuminating would be to know who that player was, in case he turned out to be better than Rhule expected.