• Connor Watson

Ron Rivera - A Silver Lining

Despite a personal dislike of firing head coaches mid season the current situation for Ron Rivera may actually be a positive one.

© Photo by wyliepoon CC

This Tuesday (3 December), saw the announcement that Ron Rivera had been fired as head coach of the Carolina Panthers.

Despite being the organisations most successful coach, winning three back-to-back seasons and taking the team to the Superbowl, Rivera had lead the team on a four game losing streak.

Owner David Tepper thought it was time to shake things up and wanted to start the search for a new coach early, without going behind Rivera’s back.

"I thought it was time… Why specifically now is I was informed of other teams doing different types of searches out there, and I'm not going to start a search and not tell Ron Rivera I'm starting a search. Too good of a man.'' - David Tepper

After a farewell press conference at Bank of America Stadium, it is clear Rivera isn’t planning for an early retirement. Speaking for more than 30 minutes, the former Bears linebacker restated his intention to win a Super Bowl and that his career in coaching will not be over yet.

"My biggest regret is not winning the Super Bowl…”

What’s Next?

Despite leading a four game losing streak, nobody is denying Rivera’s talent, between injuries with quarterbacks, changes in ownership and a less than healthy locker room, this move looks more like an owner shake up than it does a testament to Rivera’s career.

While Tepper hasn’t fired General Manager Marty Hunery he will be naming a new assistant general manager and vice president of football operations, and has yet refused to comment on the future of Hunery.

The silver lining for Ron Rivera will come at the end of this season, right now about five jobs are rumoured to be up for grabs: the Cowboys, Giants, Falcons, Browns and Redskins.

Whilst all those teams still have a head coach in office there are strong movements in all five organisations that make an opening likely.

So where is Rivera likely to land? Most likely on his feet, being dropped by the Panthers before the end of the season makes him a very valuable commodity.

The Jobs Market

The reason he’ll be valuable to so many teams, outside of being a genuinely good coach, is that he is available right now. Teams can interview him straight away, with no fear of breaching tampering rules and no worries on notice periods, or negotiations with other teams.

Washington in particular, with interim HC Bill Callahan, could bring Rivera in for an interview and shout to the world about the high profile candidates they're lining up. It’s unlikely Rivera would want a job at the Redskins given the current climate within the organisation, something which could only be described as a train wreck.

On the topic of teams speeding towards the cliff edge, Cleveland are going to want to seriously look at Rivera as a candidate. While the team have stood by Freddie Kitchens so far, with a likely 7-9 finish, OBJ reportedly wanting out and the incident of Myles Garrett, John Dorsey needs no excuse to show Kitchens the door.

While Mayfield could be a franchise quarterback given the right coaching, and the numerous offensive weapons at his disposal, it’s unlikely a veteran coach like Rivera would walk into the Browns job willingly with their track record of firing head coaches.

The situation at the Falcons is much simpler, while they’re a team with solid prospects, a strong GM and owner they are unlikely to want a defensive focused coach like Rivera. With the last two head coaches specialising in defensive play, Atlanta will want to move away from that strategy with their next appointment.

So that leaves us with two very interesting prospects, the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. Huge names in football, both with solid quarterbacks, mostly solid teams with room for improvement, strong back offices and room for Rivera to grow and put his mark on the franchise.

Let's start with the Cowboys, while most accept Jason Garrett should probably be putting his home in Dallas on the market, it isn’t exactly a done deal. With their last four games of the season there is a real chance for the Cowboys to do well in the home stretch, securing a decent playoff position and giving Garrett a stay of execution at least for the 2020 season.

Now if the murmurings are true and Jason Garrett really is headed for the door, the Cowboys would one of the top picks for Rivera, or any NFL coach. The issues that may provide a hurdle in Riveras move to Dallas are realistically Jerry Jones, a strong owner who fancies himself as a GM and HC at the same time, will Rivera want to move to a franchise as a yes man?

So then we move to the Giants, a solid team, with room for improvements that would allow a veteran coach to make their mark and develop what is already there. The Giants are well known, the owners are stable and a solid back office is the perfect environment for someone well versed in football.

The real clincher comes when you look at the position of general manager, Dave Gettleman worked with Rivera during the most successful years for the Panthers and undoubtedly will be thinking of his own job. Potentially at risk, for Gettleman, being able to bring in a coach who he has had prior success with may be the turning point, allowing him to stay on as GM.

Taking all of this into account, Rivera has a whole field of options ahead of him, he still has the college league to consider. There are also a number of other candidates all open and looking for jobs right now which may push Rivera back to the likes of the Browns or Redskins.

Personally I'd like to see him move to either the Giants or Cowboys, both teams are having a lacklustre season and it would be fantastic to get some real competition in the NFC East again.