While the timing of the departure comes as a bit of a shock, most believed that Tepper would wait until the end of the season, the decision itself does not come as a surprise.
The Carolina Panthers were play-off hopefuls at the start of the 2019 season, but injuries to star players such as franchise quarterback Cam Newton and nose tackle Kawann Short quickly curtailed hopes of a playoff appearance for Carolina. After starting 6-2 last season, the Panthers have gone a combined 6-14. Not an acceptable record for would be Super Bowl contenders.
Rumours of Rivera’s departure had been mounting since David Tepper had bought the team prior to the 2018 season. Much of the football world predicted that Tepper would want to reconstruct the Panthers in his image, as most owners wish to do.
The extent to which Cam Newton’s absence contributed to the firing of Rivera, however, it certainly did not help. Trade rumours began swirling in early November adding further disorganisation to the Panthers 2019 season. Tepper probably felt that starting fresh gave him and Newton the best possible chance moving forward.
On the other hand, Rivera’s departure may signal the end of Cam’s tenure in Carolina as Tepper looks to the 2020 Draft in hopes of finding his personal franchise QB.
What next for Rivera? The seasoned head coach won’t have a shortage of job offers come January. It’s only a matter of time until Riverboat Ron finds himself another home.