The Carolina Panthers fired Ron Rivera on Tuesday, ending the 57-year-old's nine-year run as the team's head coach.
Rivera's ouster comes less than 48 hours after a 29-21 loss to Washington at Bank of America Stadium. That defeat -- which dropped Carolina to 5-7 -- was the Panthers' fourth straight loss and its fifth in six games.
Secondary coach Perry Fewell was named interim coach for the remaining nine games of the season. Fewell — a North Carolina native who played at Lenoir-Rhyne College — was also interim coach with Buffalo in 2009, leading the Bills to a 3-4 finish after Dick Jauron was fired.
Quarterbacks coach Scott Turner will take over as offensive coordinator, while Norv Turner has been named as a special assistant to the head coach.
“I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team,” second-year owner David Tepper said in a statement. “I have a great deal of respect for Ron and the contributions he has made to this franchise and to this community. I wish him the best. I will immediately begin the search for the next head coach of the Carolina Panthers.”
Rivera went 76-63-1 during his tenure with Carolina. He produced three winning seasons, most notably going 15-1 during the 2015 regular season en route to capturing the NFC championship. That capped off a run of three straight playoff appearances by the Panthers, the only time it's been accomplished in the franchise's 25-year history. Rivera also led Carolina to the 2017 postseason.
However, Carolina is only 29-31 since their run to Super Bowl 50. And the Panthers started 2018 5-2 before losing seven straight. They recovered to beat New Orleans in the regular-season finale with back-up Kyle Allen at quarterback, but began the 2019 season with consecutive losses.
Carolina plays Sunday afternoon at Atlanta, with the Falcons opening up as a 2.5-point favorite.
Tepper alluded to possible changes following a Week 11 loss to Atlanta. Still, with only four games remaining, the likelihood of those changes happening sooner rather than later seemed remote.
“I don’t think anyone expected today," said Frank Garcia, a former offensive lineman who played for Carolina from 1995-2000. "I don’t think much value other than sending a message to the team that things are going to be different. The timing was a shock.”
Tepper said on Tuesday that structural alterations to the organization will be made along with finding a new head coach. That includes hiring an assistant general manager as as well as a vice president of football operations.
“We are going to take a comprehensive and thorough review of our football operation to make sure we are structured for long-term sustained success,” Tepper said. “Our vision is to find the right mix of old-school discipline and toughness with modern and innovative processes. ... 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.”