After Teddy Bridgewater fired a parting shot at his former team's practice routine, Matt Rhule had a chance to respond.
The second-year Carolina Panthers coach addressed the topic with reporters Wednesday night after his former quarterback's criticism on the “All Things Covered” podcast.
"When you have 140 guys in a locker room, guys will disagree on some things sometimes," Rule said. "You can't ask everyone to agree with everything. ...
"But I feel really good about what we do, I want to make sure to say I feel really good about the way we practice and our process. I'm disappointed to hear he didn't feel the same way."
Bridgewater didn't feel prepared with Panthers
What exactly did Bridgewater say to disappoint his former coach? He wasn't happy with the way the team prepared for games under first-year offensive coordinator Joe Brady.
“I’ll just say this, for Joe Brady’s growth, that organization, they’ll have to practice different things in different ways,” Bridgewater said, per the Associated Press. “One of the things we didn’t do much of when I was there, we didn’t practice two-minute, really. We didn’t practice red zone.”
According to AP, the Panthers ranked 28th in the red zone last season, where Bridgewater thew five of his 11 interceptions on the season.
Rhule was an NFL rookie last season
The Panthers hired Brady last offseason from LSU, making him the youngest coordinator in the NFL at 30 years old. He was the architect of LSU's record-setting passing attack run by Joe Burrow during the Tigers' undefeated run to the national championship in 2019.
Rhule was also a new NFL hire out of college last season after leading a successful turnaround at Baylor. The routine he and Brady installed didn't sit well with Bridgewater, whom the Panthers traded to the Denver Broncos last month after acquiring Sam Darnold from the New York Jets.
“I guess the game is becoming about science and trying to keep guys healthy," Bridgewater continued. "You didn’t practice on Fridays there, but you walk through the red-zone stuff and then Saturday you come out and practice red zone.
"But you’d only get like 15 live reps. Guys’ reps would be limited.
Rhule spoke glowingly of Bridgewater after the Panthers signed him to a three-year, $63 million deal last offseason. Bridgewater made $24 million in his single season in Carolina after earning roughly $20 million combined in the first six seasons of his injury-plagued career.
"I believe so wholeheartedly in who he is as a quarterback," Rhule told Around the NFL last May. "I believe in his abilities. I believe in his arm strength. I believe in his accuracy. I believe in his decision-making. But beyond that, I know he's going to make everyone else that much better."
That relationship appeared to sour after a disappointing 2020 season. Now Bridgewater's a Bronco. And Rhule's left to defend his coaching style in public.
"I feel really good about our preparation, and the amount of work our coaches put in and the amount of work our players put in," Rule continued. "The amount of practice work, I think we push them in a really smart way.”
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