Since the Panthers’ last win was a huge one, and followed by a bye week, the local fury over their 0-2 start has subsided.
But while there was a report by Tom Sorensen on the Charlotte Observer that coach Ron Rivera wouldn’t be fired during the season, that’s not the same thing as long-term security.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Panthers have begun “laying groundwork for a possible coaching search,” including background checks on candidates. Word has apparently gotten back to one of them.
The entire process has had a temporary feel all offseason. Owner Jerry Richardson allowed Rivera a chance to plead for his job and it worked, but then General Manager Dave Gettleman was hired without even meeting Rivera before he took the job.
Richardson stuck it to John Fox in 2010, holding him to fulfill his contract after deciding not to give him an extension. So letting Rivera ride out a transitional year fits with his economic preferences.
Rivera’s still popular within certain parts of the organization, as he’s a good and decent person who players relate with. But while thrashing the winless Giants helped buy him some time, the reality of his 14-21 record (including a 2-14 mark in games decided by a touchdown) means that having a list of possible replacements prepared only makes sense, whenever they need to use it.