Panthers' coach Rivera remains on hold

jperson@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 3, 2013 

Panthers Wrapup

Carolina Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera describes how his team improved over the season at a brief news conference following the final team meeting of the season in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. If Rivera does not return as Carolina's coach after a second straight losing season, he can at least take pride in the fact this his players never quit on him, even rallying from 11-points down, on the road, in a low-stakes season finale, to beat the Saints 44-38 on Sunday. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)


While other teams have begun identifying and interviewing head-coaching targets, the Panthers remain in a holding pattern where head coach Ron Rivera is concerned.

Rivera has yet to meet with Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, and indications are it will be the end of the week before the two sit down to discuss Rivera’s future.

It’s unclear whether the delay in addressing Rivera’s situation means Richardson has begun interviewing candidates for the team’s general manager vacancy. Richardson might want to hire a GM first, so that person would have a say in Rivera’s future.

A few weeks ago, Rivera said he believed his future would be decided solely by Richardson. At a Monday press conference, Rivera would not say whether he thought the hiring of a GM would affect his situation.

Through a team spokesman, Richardson declined comment Wednesday. The 76-year-old owner has not commented publicly since firing GM Marty Hurney in October.

After Hurney’s dismissal, Richardson 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, and finished the season on a strong note for the second consecutive year.

The Panthers won five of their past six games to finish 7-9 and in second place in the NFC South, a game better than Rivera’s first season. They ended the season with the franchise’s first four-game winning streak since 2008, the last time the Panthers made the playoffs.

Rivera is 2-12 in games decided by a touchdown or less, although he took more calculated risks late in the season after the Panthers had been eliminated from playoff contention.

Rivera said he met with Richardson once a week over the course of the season, and several times characterized Richardson as supportive.

“He’s been great. He really has,” Rivera said Monday. “Like I said, I like where we are. I like the things that we’ve done. I believe we are better now than when I first got here. And like I said also, it’s a job I’d like to have.”

While Rivera and his staff did their end-of-season analysis Wednesday at Bank of America Stadium, several of the seven teams that fired their coaches Monday began scheduling interviews with candidates, including ousted Eagles coach Andy Reid and Oregon coach Chip Kelly.

With former New York Giants GM Ernie Accorsi consulting on Carolina’s GM search, the Panthers have requested permission to speak with two Giants executives with strong scouting backgrounds – director of college scouting Marc Ross and senior pro personnel analyst Dave Gettleman.

Gettleman is a 25-year NFL veteran who has been a part of six Super Bowl teams, including three that won rings – the 1997 Broncos and the 2007 and ’11 Giants.

Panthers interim GM Brandon Beane also is expected to interview. Beane, who took over after Hurney was fired, was in Atlanta this week scouting the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

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