Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While they were on their bye week, the Panthers created major headlines this past Sunday with Matt Rhule's announcement that the team was parting ways with offensive coordinator Joe Brady. The 32-year-old coach was relieved of his duties after less than two years with the franchise. 

Rhule fielded questions about his decision during his Monday press conference. Rhule -- who said that the coaching change was originally planned for Saturday but he was unsuccessful in trying to contact Brady that day -- added that while Panthers owner David Tepper has been supportive of Rhule and his staff, it was untimely Rhule's decision to part ways with Brady, who he hired in 2020. The two had not previously worked together. The Panthers coach said he thought it was best to make the move now, as opposed to the end of the season, and he thinks Carolina "can be better on offense."

"(Brady has) done a lot to get us moving in the right direction, but this was something that I felt like, from a football perspective, we needed to do now," Rhule said.

Rhule anticipates starting Cam Newton -- who was benched following his 5 of 21 performance in Carolina's Week 12 loss to the Dolphins -- for the Panthers' upcoming game against the Falcons. During that Week 12 loss, Newton was replaced by P.J. Walker, a former XFL standout who is 2-0 as the Panthers' starting quarterback over the past two seasons. 

The Panthers started the season with Sam Darnold as their starting quarterback after trading for the former Jet. Carolina jumped out to a 3-0 start with Darnold before losing their next four games. Darnold, who is 4-5 as the Panthers' starting quarterback this season, was placed on injured reserve last month after surging a significant shoulder injury during the team's Week 9 loss to the Patriots

Rhule has temporarily turned the Panthers' offense over to Jeff Nixon, who served as Rhule's offensive coordinator at Baylor. During the their final season at Baylor, the Bears' offense averaged nearly 34 points per game en route to an 11-3 record. 

Brady rose to prominence in the coaching ranks following his role in LSU's 2019 national championship run. With Brady working as the Tigers' passing game coordinator, LSU led the nation with an average of 48.4 points per game. 

Despite their 5-7 record, the Panthers are one game back of the seventh and final spot in the NFC playoffs. The Panthers face an uphill battle, however, as they have the NFC's toughest remaining strength of schedule.