Panthers Fire Head Coach Ron Rivera in Surprising Move Amid Cam Newton Turmoil

With the playoffs no longer in sight, the 5-7 Carolina Panthers have made a change in the front office. The team announced on Tuesday afternoon that head coach Ron Rivera had been fired. This move comes on the heels of a last-second loss to the Washington Redskins. His nine-year tenure will come to an end with a 76-63-1 regular-season record and a 3-4 postseason mark.

With this move made, the Panthers will need another figure to step in and serve as the interim head coach. Secondary coach Perry Fewell will take over Rivera's duties for the remainder of the season. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner will take on a role as the special assistant to the head coach, which pairs with his previous experience as head coach of the San Diego Chargers. Finally, quarterbacks coach Scott Turner will serve as offensive coordinator.

“I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team,” 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 was originally hired in 2011 to serve as the fourth head coach in team history. With his defensive background, the expectation would be that the Panthers would make strides toward stopping Drew Brees and the powerful New Orleans Saints offense. They also had similar issues slowing down Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons.

However, the first draft pick of Rivera's tenure was actually used on an offensive weapon. With the first overall selection in 2011, the Panthers drafted quarterback Cam Newton out of Auburn. The Heisman Trophy-winning signal-caller had just won the National Championship after defeating the Oregon Ducks and was viewed as a transformative talent that could take this Panthers team back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2003 season.

In 2015, Newton fulfilled these expectations while leading one of the NFL's most productive offenses. He won league MVP and helped the Panthers build a 15-1 regular-season record. Following victories over the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals, the Panthers faced off with the NFL's top defensive team in the Denver Broncos. They ultimately fell 24-10 to the Von Miller-led team, ending the season just short of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

In nine seasons, Rivera led the Panthers to one Super Bowl appearance, an NFC Championship, and three NFC South titles. The Panthers also became the first team in NFC South history to achieve consecutive division crowns.


“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 continued. "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.”

(Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty)