Skip to main content

Matt Rhule Addresses Quarterback Competition After Preseason Debut

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule looks on.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 17: Head coach Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers looks on during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Bank of America Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

The Carolina Panthers aren't declaring a starting quarterback just yet.

Baker Mayfield went 4-of-7 for 45 yards and a fumble in his team debut, and Sam Darnold threw an eight-yard touchdown to Rashard Higgins among his six plays.

During his post-game press conference (h/t Pro Football Talk's Josh Alper), Panthers head coach Matt Rhule wouldn't say if Mayfield would get another start when the Panthers face the New England Patriots on Friday.

"No, that was for today, that was just for today," Rhule said. "So we’ll go back and look at this tape. Obviously, Sam got us in the end zone. Baker led us down the field. Looked like both guys played well in terms of production. We’ll go back and look and see where they are."

Rhule expressed some satisfaction with each quarterback's performance.

"I have to really watch the tape to see exactly what they did, but I thought they were both in command," Rhule said. "They made the right checks, so I was pleased."

Most of the playing time went to P.J. Walker, who completed 10 of 19 passes for 136 yards. Meanwhile, rookie Matt Corral is unlikely to sneak into the starting competition after converting just one of his nine pass attempts.

Rhule is in no rush to declare his QB1, but Carolina's recent acquisition appears to be the front-runner. At the start of the week, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said Mayfield has the "inside track" on the starting job despite sharing first-team reps fairly evenly with Darnold.

Darnold posted a 71.9 quarterback rating for the Panthers last season with more interceptions (13) than touchdown passes (nine). While Mayfield struggled through injuries last year, he showed promise when leading the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs in 2020.

Saturday's preseason game will unlikely change Rhule's mind drastically either way.