When I start the Black Monday primer, I know wrinkles will be coming. Take this one: the Carolina Panthers have already fired Ron Rivera. As questionable as the Panthers are, I did not see that one coming. Rivera has been a good coach and took the Panthers to a Super Bowl in the 2015 season. This year, they lost quarterback Cam Newton early-on which hurt, but getting beat by Washington is inexcusable.
It still seems like the Panthers could do worse than Rivera. They are in a division that has Drew Brees, so that has something to do with playoffs, but they also have only had one winning season since 2016. Enough apparently was enough, but this is a hard season to fire a head coach over.
This now brings the question of who fills the vacancy. The first name I can think of is Baltimore Ravens’ offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Roman’s offense might be a step back for Cam Newton, who, from my limited viewings, has run less, but he could definitely use the Roman offense for mobility, assuming Newton returns. Plus running back Christian McCaffrey would love that run-heavy scheme.
The big-name for the Panthers is Robert Saleh. Saleh is looked at as a head coaching candidate in 2020, and the Panthers would give him a nice defense to play with. The Panthers have the personnel to run his 4-3, though Rivera had them switching over to a 3-4 in August.
Panthers or not, Saleh is going to be a hot name in 2020. In his recent mailbag with The Athletic, Jay Glazer said that Saleh’s enthusiasm alone nets him a head coaching job somewhere.
The rumors are very strong. It’s likely dependent upon his interview. Sometimes there are guys who are hot then they go in and have a horrible interview. I don’t see that happening with him because he can command that room. He’s going to go in there and get an owner really fired up, talk about the defense he’s been able to run, and how he can fix a team’s energy. If he can follow up with a great interview, I see him getting a job.
The funny part will be if Saleh leaves for Carolina, and Rivera fills the vacancy in San Francisco. I doubt that happens. Rivera won’t last long in unemployment and will get another head coaching gig. If he filled a possible vacancy for defensive coordinator in San Francisco, it would be interesting to see. Rivera got his chops running some great defenses in San Diego. He runs both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes so that the versatility could be interesting.
There’s always that chance that Saleh interviews but decides to stick around in San Francisco. He could decide that he wants to turn in some top-level defenses for a couple more seasons so he can have a wider pool of jobs to choose from. He only recently became a defensive coordinator in 2017, so a couple more years wouldn’t hurt.
Do you see Saleh going to the Panthers?