Panthers fire Rivera – Who’s next?

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor AFC North and NFC South

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

In news that shocked me this week, the Carolina Panthers have fired head coach Ron Rivera after nine seasons.If a guy can coach a team to 5-7 while their star quarterback (Cam Newton) has been out since week 2, is any coach safe in this league?

It seems as if once one team fires their head coach before the season ends, a couple of others decide to follow suit. Who else could be on the head coach chopping block before the end of the year?

First off, replacing Rivera will be secondary coach Perry Fewell. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner will step into the role of special assistant to the head coach and QB coach Scott Turner will take over as the interim offensive coordinator. Interesting. I guess they are leaving the defensive staff intact at this point.

The Panther players seem to be as surprised as the rest of us considering what’s gone on with injuries this season. Quite a few have publicly supported Rivera and it’s clear to see from their reactions what an awesome guy he was on- and off-the-field.

But we are dealing with a league where nothing but results matter. If 5-7 with a back-up QB can get you fired, who is next? I think there are quite a few gentlemen who have to be feeling a bit warm as they are sitting on the Hot Seat.

First up has to be Cleveland Browns HC Freddie Kitchens. A totally likable guy and the team is also 5-7 however, expectations were at an all-time high in the offseason and this team has woefully underproduced. Fans have been calling for Kitchens’s head since week 9 so it has to also be on the minds of general manager John Dorsey and owners Jimmy & Dee Haslam. The only thing that may save his job at this point is that the Browns have an all-too-long track record of firing head coaches during/after their first season. Continuity is not a reason to keep a guy employed, but that may be what happens here.

Some other first-year head coaches that are under pressure are the Cincinnati Bengals (1-11) Zac Taylor, the Arizona Cardinals (3-8) Kliff Kingsbury, and the Miami Dolphins (3-9) Brian Flores. Frankly, I think these guys are all safe. These teams are clearly rebuilding and it seems like they will be given some time to put things together.

Pat Shurmur, however, is a different story. The New York Giants started the season 2-2, and then went on an 8 game skid which gets them a stunning 2-10 at this point. QB Eli Manning was benched for rookie Daniel Jones. It’s like they gave up on the season and decided to see what Jones has to offer.

I don’t know that fans were expecting a Super Bowl this year, but they certainly weren’t expecting to finish in last place in the division. As Shurmur has been fired before (see Cleveland Browns history), he shouldn’t be too surprised if his number is up this year.

Breaking News: Daniel Jones (ankle injury) will miss Monday’s nights game which means Eli will be back under center. Hmmmmm….. Very interesting!

 

That leaves us with Atlanta Falcons (3-9) coach Dan Quinn and Detroit Lions (3-8-1) coach Matt Patricia. I think Patricia is safe just because, well, because…call it a gut feeling, but I don’t think he is the reason for the Lions problems.  Quinn, on the other hand, is definitely on my “Not for long in this job” list.

A defensive guru, Quinn just hasn’t put his stamp on this team. He took over as head coach in 2015 and this year added the defensive coordinator role as well. The offense just hasn’t been the problem for the Falcons this year. They rank 12th overall in points scored.  The defense, however, ranks 28th in points allowed. It doesn’t matter how many points YOU score if your defense lets them score MORE. Period.

So to recap, my top three coaches to be fired next?  Freddie Kitchens, Pat Shurmur, Dan Quinn.

Who do you think is in trouble?

Talk NFL with Kate on Twitter / @ClvlndK8 

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