The guy who hired Ron Rivera was fired yesterday, which means Rivera’s realistic about what could happen next.
The Panthers coach said after the firing of general manager Marty Hurney that he thought he was safe, but understands the evaluation that’s happening now.
Asked if he felt like he was coaching for his job the next 10 weeks, he said that’s been the same his entire career.
“I always feel like I’m coaching for my job,” he said. “It’s just like when I was a player. I was drafted in the second round in 1984. For nine years, I came into that facility in Chicago, wondering if I was going to get cut.
“This is no different. I come to work like I did as a player, and that’s to do the best I can.”
It is different, though.
At one point, the best thing Rivera has going for him might have been the two years remaining on his $11.2 million contract. Owner Jerry Richardson let John Fox ride into a lame duck year no one wanted because he didn’t want to be on the hook for $11.4 million in coaching salaries (including assistants who were under contract).
But Jerry Richardson fired his sons, and now he fired the guy he trusted to rebuild his franchise, a guy he had — and make no mistake, still has — a deep relationship with. Hurney was practically family to Richardson, and it’s no accident there was no press conference yesterday in the aftermath of an emotional decision.
Rivera’s just the new guy, a guy with a 7-15 record. And with a new GM coming in at some point, he has little security other than the possibility Richardson wants to save some more money.
Rivera also can’t promise anything to the rest of his staff. Asked Monday if firing assistants was a possibility, he avoided a straight answer.
“This is a process that we’re going to go through as far as an evaluation and we’ll see how things go,” Rivera said staff changes. “If that’s what has to happen eventually, then yeah – maybe that’s what happens. Do we cut players? Yeah. If we have to, maybe that’s what we’ll have to do.”
And maybe Richardson will be willing to bite the bullet for coaching contracts that are still on the low end of the scale this time, if that’s what his next GM wants him to do.