Secondary coach Perry Fewell will serve as interim head coach, and offensive coordinator Norv Turner will transition to special assistant to the head coach. Quarterbacks coach Scott Turner, Norv’s son, becomes offensive coordinator.
“I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team,” Panthers owner David Tepper said, via the team’s website. “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.”
At 76-63-1, Rivera was the winningest coach in the relatively brief history of the franchise. Hired in 2011, he led the Panthers to the playoffs four times in eight full seasons, including three NFC South titles and an appearance in Super Bowl 50.
Rivera was the AP Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2015.
The Panthers have played much of this season without franchise quarterback Cam Newton, who suffered a foot injury in the preseason that was more significant than initially believed; they’ve also been without standout defensive tackle Kawann Short since September.
Given that he’s been dealing with some big roster holes, it’s a surprise that Rivera would be fired at this point. Carolina has lost four straight games, including an eight-point loss to Washington on Sunday. The Panthers are currently 5-7.
Tepper has owned the franchise for 18 months, and it’s his prerogative to have “his” guy in the head coaching job. But a new head coach isn’t the only change Tepper wants to make: also in his statement, he said that an assistant general manager and vice president of football operations will be hired too.
“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 will consider a wide range of football executives to complement our current football staff.
“One change that we will implement is hiring an assistant general manager and vice president of football operations. 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.”
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