The Panthers are making some changes in midseason, if not the big names some of the locals are looking for.
According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Panthers have fired “multiple assistant coaches,” including defensive line coach Brady Hoke and cornerbacks coach Jeff Imamura.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera has had to scramble a bit to keep his staff filled in recent years, losing coordinators Sean McDermott and Steve Wilks in back-to-back years to head coaching jobs. Wilks then took longtime linebackers coach Al Holcomb with him to Arizona as his coordinator, and Rivera was forced to backfill quickly.
That made former line coach Eric Washington (who is very good as a position coach) their coordinator, and there have been struggles in his first year. Hoke was tabbed late to replace Washington, and Imamura was hired after former defensive backs coach Curtis Fuller resigned following some improper workplace behavior.
The net effect has been a defense that has struggled during a four-game losing streak.
UPDATE 10:22 a.m. ET: The Panthers announced the moves, and said that Rivera will handle play-calling while Washington oversees the front seven.
“In my judgment, I felt this was best for the team moving forward,” Rivera said in a statement. “These are always difficult decisions, and I thank Brady and Jeff for their hard work. Ultimately, I’m charged with putting the team in the best position to succeed, and I felt these moves were necessary in order to do that.”