“I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team,” Panthers owner David Tepper said in a written statement released by the team. “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, 57, is a respected coach who is likely to be a candidate for other head coaching vacancies around the NFL this coming offseason. He took the Panthers to the playoffs four times in his first seven seasons after being hired in 2011. The Panthers went 15-1 and reached the Super Bowl during a 2015 season in which Newton was named the league’s MVP.
Kyle Allen has had some good moments filling in for Newton at quarterback, and tailback Christian McCaffrey has become one of the league’s most dynamic players. But the Panthers rank only 21st in the NFL in total offense and 22nd in total defense, and they’ve lost five of six games since a 4-2 beginning to fall out of realistic postseason contention.
Sunday’s 29-21 defeat to the Redskins left the Panthers with a four-game losing streak and prompted action from Tepper, the hedge fund billionaire who purchased the team last year from Jerry Richardson amid an NFL investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct involving the franchise’s original owner.
Tepper said the Panthers will hire an assistant general manager and a vice president of football operations to bolster their front office decision-making staff.
“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. … 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.”