CHARLOTTE — Ron Rivera survived “Black Monday,” but his future remains uncertain.
While seven of his coaching peers were fired Monday, the Carolina Panthers’ second-year coach stayed in limbo as he awaits a meeting with owner Jerry Richardson to learn his fate.
Rivera was not sure when the meeting would take place, saying it could be as soon as Monday. Indications are it might be Wednesday.
“As I’ve said, I’d like to have the opportunity to have the job. And that’s pretty much it,” Rivera said during his regularly scheduled news conference. “We’ll go from there and see.”
The Panthers (7-9) won five of their final six games to finish second in the NFC South, a game better than during Rivera’s first season. But they were 0-7 in games decided by a touchdown or less before Sunday’s 44-38 win at New Orleans.
When Richardson fired general manager Marty Hurney during October, he told Rivera he wanted to see the team trend upward over the final 10 weeks of the season. The Panthers were 6-4 after Hurney’s firing, although only two of the wins came against teams with winning records.
Rivera, 50, would not say whether Richardson told him if the hiring of a GM would play a role in his future. The process of finding Hurney’s successor began Monday when the Panthers asked to speak to two New York Giants executives – director of college scouting Marc Ross and senior pro personnel analyst Dave Gettleman.
Ross, an all-Ivy League receiver at Princeton in 1993-94, has been cleared to speak with the Panthers, as well as the New York Jets, NFL.com reported.
Jason La Confora of CBSSports.com was the first to report the Panthers’ interest in Gettleman. Panthers interim GM Brandon Beane also is expected to get an interview.
At his news conference, Rivera highlighted the positives: Quarterback Cam Newton’s continued development, rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly’s place atop the league’s tackles list, Greg Olsen’s receiving records among Panthers’ tight ends and DeAngelo Williams’ club-record 210 rushing yards against the Saints.
The Panthers ranked among the league’s top defenses after Kuechly took over for the injured Jon Beason at middle linebacker during Week 5, and finished 10th in total defense.
After a slow start, Carolina has posted its best seasons in net yards and first downs in two years under offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.
“There are so many good things that have come from the development of this team and the direction this team is heading,” Rivera said.
At a team meeting Monday, players said Rivera did not discuss his situation.