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Ron Rivera fired by Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers fired head coach Ron Rivera 12 games into his 9th season. The team was expected to compete in a stacked NFC South division this year, but injuries and other factors have derailed those efforts to the tone of 5-7 so far this season.

Rivera became the Panthers head coach in 2011, after serving as defensive coordinator with both the Bears and Chargers . In his time with the team, Rivera led the Panthers to a 76-63-1 (.546) record, which included a Superbowl appearance and two NFL Coach of the Year Awards.

He will be replaced by secondary coach Perry Fewell, who was the interim coach in Buffalo back in 2009.

Under Rivera, Carolina frequently had one of the best defensive units in the NFL. However, they have taken a step back this season. While they are still a very good run defense, they rank 21st in passing yards and total yards given up per game.

Injuries have also derailed the team this year. Former MVP QB Cam Newton went down for the season with an injury in week 2. His backup, Kyle Allen, played well for a few weeks but has since regressed. In addition to Newton, starting defensive linemen Kawann Short and Dontari Poe, wide receiver Chris Hogan, and kicker Graham Gano are currently on injured reserve. Several other key players like Mario Addison and Greg Little have missed multiple games.

Newton posted a thank you to Rivera on Instagram and said the firing “hurt deep.”

Rivera still has a bright future as a football coach. Many media outlets are already naming him as a potential replacement for their underachieving coaches. Worst case scenario: he should make a hell of a defensive coordinator for someone. Nonetheless, Ron Rivera will not be unemployed long.

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