The news of Ron Rivera's firing by the Carolina Panthers came as a bit of a shock. The Panthers were indeed spiraling and lost, at home, to the ever-hapless Washington Redskins this past Sunday. But Rivera didn't exactly have the easiest time of it this year after losing his superstar quarterback and face of the franchise, Cam Newton, only two weeks into the season.
But with new ownership in town, a change was made. While Rivera didn't really get a fair shake of it in 2019, this is probably for the best after the Panthers failed to build upon their NFC Championship-winning 2015. Argue all you want about the merits of this decision by the franchise, one thing is for certain- Rivera won't be out of a job for long, if he wants to keep coaching.
Rivera has won Coach of the Year twice, in 2013 and 2015. He has shown he has the capacity to recognize when he's wrong and change his ways; he was widely criticized for his conservative decision-making in his early years at the head of the Panthers, and turned around that narrative so drastically he was nicknamed Riverboat Ron for all the gambling he'd do on fourth down. He helped customize an offense that played into his star player's strength, and built a strong unit on the defensive side of the ball.
Coaching accolades aside, Rivera has also been heralded as one of the best individual people among the coaching ranks in the NFL. As the saying goes, he's a leader of men, and won't be lacking for suitors as a free agent coach. His final press conference should be proof of that, as he thanked everyone in the organization and said his only regret was not winning a Super Bowl. He even took to Twitter to thank the media after the fact. His players thanked him on social too.
This offseason should bring at least a couple of open coaching positions, and potentially more than that. Dan Quinn seems like he's on his way out the door in Atlanta, Doug Marrone has outstayed his welcome in Jacksonville, Pat Shurmur hasn't done much with Daniel Jones and the Giants, and the Lions may decide to move on from the Matt Patricia experiment early. That list doesn't even include Jason Garrett's ever-warm seat in Dallas. Each of these franchises could greatly use a leader and battle-tested coach like Rivera.
Rivera has options. He could decide to take a step back from head coaching and take a coordinator position for a season, or step back from all coaching and take a year off. But if he decides he wants to be at the head of another squad, he'll have his pick of the litter.