NFC South News:  Ron Rivera Fired by Panthers

Kyle T. Mosley

New Orleans Saints' NFC South foe, Carolina Panthers, fire Head Coach Ron Rivera after 9 seasons at the helm.   Rivera led Carolina to a 76-63-1 coaching record during his tenure as the Panthers Head Coach.  Early in his days as Head Coach, he moonlighted as the team's Defensive Coordinator.

Ron Rivera
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Rivera was a strong leader, but his decision making was unconventional.  He later garnered the nickname of “Riverboat Ron” because of his "gambling" approach to unusual play-calling decisions for the Panthers at critical points in games.  In 2011, they hired Rivera as the Panthers Head Coach after serving as a Defensive Coordinator for the then San Diego Chargers from 2007 to 2010.   

Sean Payton and Ron Rivera met 16 times in NFC South classic showdowns.  In their last meeting, New Orleans defeated the Carolina 34-31 on November 24, 2019 in New Orleans, LA.  The teams will end the 2019 regular season on December 29, 2019 in Carolina with Perry Fewell, former secondary coach, named as Interim Head Coach. 

Rivera guided the Panthers to four playoff berths and one Super Bowl appearance.  He was the Associated Press Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2015.  Rivera led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50 and lost 24-10 to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The team could never regain their “magic” under Rivera’s leadership since that game.

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.” - via Scott Hamilton of Panthers Team Channel on SI.com

Panthers’ owner David Tepper has been mulling over if the team would keep Rivera since 2018.  Rivera signed a $15.5 million extension in January of 2018 when Jerry Richardson was still the Panthers owner.  Tepper may decide to pay the remainder of Rivera’s contract.   

The future on how the Panthers will proceed without Rivera is cloudy.  Decisions will be made regarding Panthers star QB Cam Newton and if he will return to the organization.  Newton is on injured reserve most of the year because a lingering foot injury.  Newton’s injury forced Rivera to start QB Kyle Allen this season in Newton’s absence.  However, the disappointing 5-7 record and recent lost to a struggling Washington Redskins team were the major influences of why Rivera was terminated.

More information on Ron Rivera’s firing and the NFC South to be posted here on our sister SI Panthers Team Channel by Scott Hamilton and Saints News Network on SI.com.

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