Panthers Fire Multiple Assistant Coaches

Blame for the Panthers’ four-game losing streak has begun to be distributed, as Carolina has fired defensive line coach Brady Hoke and cornerbacks coach Jeff Imamura, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link).

In formally announcing the changes, the Panthers indicated head coach Ron Rivera will continue to call defensive plays, while defensive coordinator Eric Washington will control the club’s defensive front seven. Rivera will offer more assistance in coaching the secondary, while Sam Mills III will take over as Carolina’s defensive line coach after previously serving as an assistant.

“In my judgment, I felt this was best for the team moving forward,” Rivera said. “These are always difficult decisions, and I thank Brady and Jeff for their hard work. Ultimately, I’m charged with putting the team in the best position to succeed, and I felt these moves were necessary in order to do that.”

A report on Sunday indicated new Panthers owner David Tepper is considering major changes to the club’s decision-making structure, and while letting go of positional coaches certainly isn’t the same as firing Rivera or general manager Marty Hurney, it’s a start. A month ago, Carolina stood at 6-2 and looked poised to secure an NFC Wild Card spot, or possibly chase down the Saints in the NFC South. Now, after losing to Buccaneers on Sunday, the Panthers have just a 16% chance of making the playoffs, per FiveThirtyEight.com.

Hoke, a former collegiate coach at Michigan, San Diego State, and Ball State, joined the Panthers earlier this year after Wasington was promoted to defensive coordinator. While the Panthers have fielded an excellent run defense under Hoke’s tutelage, the team ranks 24th in sacks and 25th in adjusted sack rate. Those figures are a far cry from 2017, when Carolina finished third in the NFL with 50 sacks and a 9.1% adjusted sack rate.

Imamura, whose official title had been assistant secondary coach/cornerbacks, was hired by Carolina in 2017 after previously serving as a defensive quality control coach for the Rams. His role grew this summer after Curtis Fuller resigned as the Panthers’ secondary coachRichard Rodgers was promoted to replace Fuller, while Imamura took on more responsibility as Rodgers’ assistant. Carolina ranks 27th in pass defense DVOA, down from 11th a season ago.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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9 comments on “Panthers Fire Multiple Assistant Coaches

  1. inkstainedscribe

    Rivera lost too many defensive coordinators over the past few years and didn’t have guys ready from inside the organization to step up.

    On the other hand, replacing Shula with Turner was an easy decision.

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  2. Ironman_4life

    I wonder if they will do what Dallas has done in the past couple years. Fire everyone except Rivera.

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    • inkstainedscribe

      Could be. Hurney may go as well. He’s way too old-school for Tepper’s tastes, I imagine.

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    • itslonelyatthetrop

      Whom do you wish to replace him with? “Anyone else is better!” is not an answer.

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  3. itslonelyatthetrop

    “Brady Hoke fired.” You just get used to that headline anymore.

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