The Panthers suffered an absolutely brutal loss Sunday, losing at home to the Redskins as massive favorites. Carolina is effectively eliminated from the playoff hunt, and Ron Rivera’s seat is starting to heat up. The ugly loss was “likely more than enough to prompt new owner David Tepper to make big changes in January,” writes Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Rivera was rumored to be close to getting fired after last year, but his staff was given one more season to prove themselves. Tepper only bought the team before last season, so he doesn’t have any particularly deep ties to the coach who guided them to a Super Bowl a handful of years ago.
It might not help or matter much, but the circumstances have been far from ideal for Rivera in 2019. Cam Newton was never healthy and barely played, and he’s had second-year UDFA Kyle Allen under center for most of the year. The Panthers went on a hot streak after Allen was inserted, but have since completely collapsed. For his part, Rivera insisted after the game he wasn’t worrying about his job status per Bill Voth of the team’s official site (Twitter link), although there’s not really much else he can say at this point. Assuming he gets fired it’ll be interesting to see what kind of interest he gets on the market, considering he’s had real success in the past. Notably, offensive coordinator and former NFL head coach Norv Turner would surely become available as well if Rivera is let go.
Here’s more from around the league:
- The Steelers benched Mason Rudolph and are rolling with Devlin Hodges at quarterback, and they picked up a crucial win over the Browns on Sunday. Mike Tomlin’s decision to go with Hodges was “was well received throughout the organization,” La Canfora writes in a separate piece. JLC also adds that some people in the building were surprised Tomlin didn’t initially stick with Hodges after he won a game over the Chargers while Rudolph was sidelined with a concussion. He notes that the staff loves Hodges’ scrambling ability, and that he’s been compared to Gardner Minshew by some in the organization. Pittsburgh is apparently pretty high on Hodges and barring injury, it doesn’t sound like we’ll see Rudolph again any time soon.
- Speaking of embattled coaching staffs, the Giants’ is up against it right now. Rumors of a potential Pat Shurmur firing continue to percolate, and the Giants got routed by the Packers on Sunday as pictures of a mostly empty stadium went viral online. The staff has yet another problem on their hands now, as cornerback Janoris Jenkins publicly blasted the way he’s being used after the game.”You’ve got to use your weapons. I’m the only one in the league that doesn’t travel (w/the opponents top WR). I don’t understand why,” Jenkins said via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (Twitter links). “It’s common sense. I’m on the left side of the field all game. I get two passes thrown my way. All the top corners in the league travel. Rabbit doesn’t travel anymore.” Jenkins is apparently clashing with defensive coordinator James Bettcher. Jackrabbit has one year left on his five-year, $62.5 MM deal after this one. He could be cut following this season for only around a $3.5MM penalty, but he’s still by far the best player in their secondary.
- Some slight positive news to pass along in the continuing A.J. Green watch, as the Bengals receiver said “everything’s trending up” with his troublesome ankle, per Ben Baby of ESPN.com. The talented wideout still didn’t give any concrete timetable for a return, saying “when my ankle feels good enough to play, then I’ll play.” Green returned to practice a few weeks ago and appeared to be returning imminently, but then suffered a setback. Even without their top offensive option, Cincy managed to pick up their first win of the season Sunday.