The Ron Rivera era with the Carolina Panthers has come to an end.
Panthers owner David Tepper announced Tuesday afternoon they had fired Rivera as head coach with four games remaining in his ninth season at the helm. Secondary coach Perry Fewell will take over as interim head coach, beginning with this Sunday’s road game at the Atlanta Falcons. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner will transition to special assistant to the head coach, while quarterbacks coach Scott Turner will take over as offensive coordinator.
“I have a great deal of respect for Ron and the contributions he has made to this franchise and to this community,” Tepper said in a statement via ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “I wish him the best. I will immediately begin the search for the next head coach of the Carolina Panthers.”
Rivera inherited a 2-14 Panthers team when he took over as a rookie head coach in 2011 and had them playing in Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos just five seasons later, but the team is currently one loss away from being guaranteed a third straight year without a winning record. The Panthers also haven’t won the NFC South crown since doing so in three consecutive seasons from 2013-15 with no chance to change that in 2019, as the New Orleans Saints (10-2) clinched the division with a Week 13 win.
While the Panthers (5-7) still have slim odds to make the postseason with a crowded NFC wild-card picture, they aren’t guaranteed entry even if they run the table — which would include defeating both the Saints and Seattle Seahawks (10-2) at home.
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Tepper Will Do ‘Comprehensive’ Review
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Tepper will also have the franchise undergo a “comprehensive and thorough review” of football operations in a process that also includes hiring new staff members, such as assistant general manager and vice president of football operations.
“Our vision is to find the right mix of old-school discipline and toughness with modern and innovative processes,” Tepper said. “We will consider a wide range of football executives to complement our current football staff.
“We all must recognize that this is the first step in a process, but we are committed to building and maintaining a championship culture for our team and our fans.”
Tepper and Rivera seemed to have a good relationship dating back as far as June 2018 when Tepper paid a record $2.275 billion to purchase the team, telling The Charlotte Observer shortly after the sale that Carolina was “blessed with a pretty good football side here.” Former Panthers ownership seemed to agree with his deduction as they signed Rivera to a two-year contract extension through 2020 amid early talks of selling the team.
But there have been a lot of questions coming Tepper’s way with the Panthers now a collective 12-16 under his ownership, both about the job status of Rivera and the future of injured starting quarterback Cam Newton. He didn’t budge about either when talking with reporters in mid-November, but he did offer up a sentiment that may have foreshadowed Rivera’s departure.
“Every time we have a loss, my mood is s—-y,” Tepper said via NBC Sports.