Three weeks ago the Panthers were cruising towards a Wild Card berth. Now, Ron Rivera’s job is in jeopardy after three consecutive defeats.
Ron Rivera has more than a playoff berth at stake between now and the end of the regular season. The Panthers head coach may also be working to keep his job for the 2019 season.
Recent reports claim that Panthers owner David Tepper “is becoming increasingly frustrated” with the way his team has played as of late. Carolina hit a new low on Sunday after losing to the Buccaneers. The team’s three-game losing streak has Rivera’s team on the outside of the NFC playoff picture.
Tepper, of course, has a lot at stake. He spent $2.5 billion to purchase the franchise after Jerry Richardson was forced to sell the Panthers amid sexual misconduct allegations. The first-year owner has deep pockets, and he realizes his team has more than enough talent to earn a postseason appearance.
The upcoming schedule certainly won’t do Rivera any favors. Carolina has to travel to Cleveland next week before finishing their regular season with three division games. The Panthers will face Atlanta once, but they still will be required to play the Saints twice before the playoffs begin. The team will need to turn things around immediately if they have any intention of salvaging their 2018 campaign.
The good news for Panthers fans is that if their team’s job does come open, there will be no shortage of interested candidates. Tepper is seen as a bright owner who will give his franchise every possible competitive advantage. The talent level on the roster is also pretty high. Having Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey to build around on offense will certainly be attractive to innovative offensive minds around the NFL.
The defense, however, might need more work. The team’s once ferocious pass rush has looked pretty ordinary this year. Julius Peppers will likely hang up his cleats after the year is finished. Much of the team’s focus in the draft and free agency will be on preparing the defense to combat the high-powered offenses they face within the division.
If Rivera is let go, don’t expect him to stay unemployed for long either. He’s not the most brilliant tactician in the league, but players clearly enjoy competing for him. Many members of his Panthers team would be sad to see him let go. Another franchise will see Rivera as a potential upgrade if he does become available this offseason.
Rivera likely needs to make the playoffs if he wants to save his job. Anything less will be seen as a major disappointment by the fans, and more importantly, Tepper. Expect a tense close to the season in Charlotte.