On Tuesday, football fans saw the second head coach fired in the middle of the 2019 season after the Carolina Panthers made a decision to move on from Ron Rivera in what can be best described as a surprising move.
Rivera was hired in 2011 and is the teams winningest coach, but since losing to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 four seasons ago, the Panthers are 29-31 and have not won a playoff game. In nine seasons Rivera guided the team to a Super Bowl appearance, an NFC championship and three NFC South titles.
The Panthers have played much of this season without franchise quarterback Cam Newton, who suffered a foot injury in the preseason that was apparently more significant than initially believed; they've also been without standout defensive tackle Kawann Short since September.
The Panthers are now 5-7 on the season, three games out of the final wild card spot.
We wish Rivera the best in his future endeavors.More news: Dolphins trick play baffles Eagles defense in huge win for Miami
According to a league source, the Panthers chose to let Rivera go before the end of the season because team owner David Tepper wanted to get ahead in the coaching search. The team went 5-5 without Newton under Rivera. "We're looking forward to countless more years in Charlotte to impact the community in ways outside of the game of football".
They started this season 5-3.
Given that he's been dealing with some big roster holes, it's a bit of a surprise that Rivera would be fired at this point, but Carolina has lost four straight games, including an 8-point loss to Washington on Sunday.
Rivera, 57, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment from The Associated Press.
Here's how Panthers fans are reacting to the news of Rivera's firing on Twitter.More news: Khloé Kardashian Confused By Caitlyn Jenner Saying They Don't Talk Anymore
Tepper, who bought the team in 2018, said long-term mediocrity is not an option for the Panthers.
"We are going to take a comprehensive and thorough review of our football operation to make sure we are structured for long-term sustained success", Tepper said.
The Panthers have been in decline lately, though, and are likely to miss the postseason for the third time in the last four years. 'Our vision is to find the right mix of old-school discipline and toughness with modern and innovative processes.
Tepper said the team will hire an assistant general manager and vice president of football operations. "Should be one of the hottest coaching candidates this year".More news: High school cop shoots armed student at a Wisconsin high school