Ron Rivera

South Notes: Jaguars, Bevell, Panthers, Texans

Former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will interview with Jaguars for their vacant OC job on Tuesday, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Bevell did not coach this year but took part in some interviews during the 2018 hiring period, which featured his Seattle ouster. It’s been Bevell’s plan to coach in 2019 and he could realize that goal if he is hired by Jacksonville.

Bevell previously interviewed for the Falcons job, but that position has already been filled by ex-Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter.

Here’s more from the South divisions:

  • Panthers head coach Ron Rivera called plays during the final month of the season and he’ll continue to do so in 2019, a source tells Joseph Person of The Athletic. Speculatively, Person wonders if that will prevent Rivera from luring a seasoned defensive coach such as Steve Wilks, who has obvious ties to the team.
  • Texans defensive star Jadeveon Clowney earned a payment of $1.005MM to resolve a dispute over the position designation for his fifth-year option, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. In the event of a franchise tag, the Texans have been planning to designate him as a linebacker, which would pay him roughly $16.3MM in 2019. However, he was pushing to be tagged as a defensive end, which pays at least $18MM. The settlement more or less splits things down the middle, which may remove one complication in tagging him or ultimately signing him to a long-term extension.

Coaching Rumors: Rex Ryan, Gase, Dolphins, Harbaugh, Broncos

There will be a ton of coaching rumors in the coming days, and we’ve already seen our first post-season firing. We’ve got a whole new round of notes ready, including an interesting tidbit about a very high profile name. Former Jets and Bills coach Rex Ryan is reportedly telling potential assistant coach candidates that he expects to land an interview with the Dolphins, sources told Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.

Ryan is an out of left field name who hasn’t been talked about much recently, but he’s apparently eager to get back into coaching. One important caveat here is that there’s no guarantee Adam Gase gets fired by the Dolphins, but Ryan is apparently expecting him to. Salguero notes that Ryan is also a candidate for the University of Miami’s open job, and that Ryan is telling associates he has a “solid chance” to land one of the two jobs, but that he’d prefer the Dolphins one. If Ryan somehow ends up coaching the Dolphins next year, it’ll be the third AFC East team he’s led.

Here’s more on the coaching carousel:

  • Speaking of Gase, there have been conflicting reports about his job security recently. For his part Gase denied thinking about it much after his team’s blowout loss to the Bills, saying “I mean I’m not even thinking about that right now because we just got drummed on the road”, according to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Wolfe also notes that Gase said he didn’t speak much with owner Stephen Ross, who was in the locker room after the game.
  • We heard earlier today that multiple teams were considering trying to trade for Ravens coach John Harbaugh, and now we have a better idea of which teams. The Dolphins and Broncos are two teams that have expressed interest in trading for Harbaugh, according to Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders (Twitter link). While he notes the Buccaneers haven’t yet been linked, he thinks they “could get into the mix” eventually. The Ravens won the AFC North today, but Harbaugh could still be available, especially if Baltimore goes one and done in the playoffs.
  • It’d already been reported that Ron Rivera was likely safe in Carolina, and now it’s official. New owner David Tepper has informed Rivera personally that he’ll be back coaching the team in 2019, a source told Albert Breer of SI.com (Twitter link). It was a disappointing season for the Panthers after they completely collapsed after jumping out to a 6-2 record, but the explanation of injuries and Rivera’s track record with the team saved his job for at least another year.

Latest On Ron Rivera, Marty Hurney, Panthers’ Vets

Last week, we heard that Panthers head coach Ron Rivera would likely remain with the team in 2019, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com confirm as much. Both reporters believe there could be changes made to Rivera’s coaching staff, however, and Rapoport expects such changes would be made primarily on the defensive side of the ball. Having Rivera take over defensive play-calling duties earlier this season has already paid dividends, but Rapoport suggests that the team could look to reunite with former DC Steve Wilks if Wilks is fired by the Cardinals (as is expected).

In any event, JLC says that Rivera and new owner David Tepper will have a candid conversation after the season, and if Rivera balks at Tepper’s demand for changes to the composition of Rivera’s staff, then the situation could deteriorate. But for the moment, it appears as if Rivera will be back for his ninth year at the helm, though he will have at least a few different subordinates. Rapoport says that GM Marty Hurney is likely safe as well. David Newton of ESPN.com spoke to Tepper today, but Tepper declined to comment on Rivera’s status.

Meanwhile, as Joe Person of The Athletic writes, the Panthers are expected to bid adieu to at least a couple franchise icons. Julius Peppers is expected to retire, and Thomas Davis has indicated he would like to be back with the club, but his contract is up at the end of the year and there is no guarantee he will be back. Of course, Ryan Kalil announced back in January that this season would be his last, and he has not given any indication that he has changed his mind. While Greg Olsen expects to return in 2019, and though the team is exploring a new deal with safety Eric Reid, there will be significant turnover to a roster that has been one of the league’s oldest over the past several seasons. Person offers his take on what the Panthers should do with their top ten players on expiring contracts.

It has become clear to most everyone, including Person and Newton, that Devin Funchess will not be back with the club in 2019. Funchess is inactive for today’s finale, and his playing time had already decreased significantly in the second half of the season.

South Coaching Rumors: Koetter, Quinn, Marrone, Rivera

It has been assumed that the Buccaneers and head coach Dirk Koetter would be parting ways at the end of the season, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) does not necessarily believe that assumption is a safe one. Rapoport says Koetter could certainly be fired — which would then make him a very appealing OC candidate for rival clubs — but the Glazer family has not ruled out keeping Koetter and the entire “upper structure” of the team. After all, Tampa Bay’s offense is the most prolific in franchise history, and the club’s defense has become a league-average unit since former DC Mike Smith was fired in October.

Now for more rumors on head coaches in the league’s south divisions:

  • Rapoport also says Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is expected to be back for 2019. There has not been much national chatter about Quinn’s job security anyway, so that does not come as much of a surprise. but Rapoport does expect “significant changes” at the coordinator spots. We already learned that offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is likely on his way out, and Rapoport confirms that Darrell Bevell will be on the short list to replace him. Defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel also appears in danger of losing his job [SOURCE LINK].
  • At the end of November, Rapoport said that Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone is in no danger of losing his job, and he doubled down on that report today, saying that Jacksonville owner Shad Khan and executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin believe in Marrone. The team will seek a new QB and a new offensive coordinator, but it currently sounds as if Marrone will get another shot in 2019. Of course, there have been rumblings that Coughlin himself will consider taking over the head coaching reins, but Rapoport’s sources seem to refute to notion.
  • Despite rumors of a potential shakeup, Rapoport says the Panthers are expected to retain head coach Ron Rivera. New owner David Tepper reportedly believes in Rivera, who recently took over defensive play-calling duties and who would become one of the top head coaching candidates on the market if he were let go. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, though, suggests that Tepper could indeed go in another direction at season’s end, but if he does, it will be difficult to find someone who would represent a clear improvement over Rivera [SOURCE LINK].

Extra Points: Panthers, Rivera, Martin, Cowboys, Kaepernick

A lot of high profile coaches have been rumored to be on the hot seat this year, and while Ron Rivera’s name has certainly been mentioned, his job status has mostly flown under-the-radar. There was a report last week that new Panthers owner David Tepper could consider making “major changes” after the season, but other than that it’s been pretty quiet. Rivera let a couple of his assistant coaches go last week in an effort to help stabilize the crumbling defense, but his own job could very well be in danger.

The Panthers started the season 6-2 and were the toast of the league for a while, but have since lost five straight games. While Tepper is patient and has a good relationship with Rivera, if the losing streak continues Rivera very well may be fired after eight years with the team, according to Joseph Person of The Athletic. The team lost to the Browns today, and Cam Newton‘s play has declined sharply after a hot start. Reports this week have indicated he’s been dealing with lingering shoulder pain, which has undoubtedly contributed to the team’s struggles.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Cowboys guard Zack Martin suffered a scary looking knee injury in their overtime win over the Eagles, but it looks like he escaped major injury. Owner Jerry Jones said after the game that the team is “concerned” about the injury but that there doesn’t “appear to be any structural damage.” While it’s good news that his ligaments are alright, it sounds like he could still miss some games. Being without Martin for any period of time would be a major blow for Dallas, as Martin is one of the league’s best guards.
  • Colin Kaepernick would be very interested in joining the Redskins, sources told Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. Kaepernick has been working out and the sources told Robinson that he’s in the “best shape of his life.” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said the team “discussed” Kaepernick, but wanted someone with more experience in their system. After Mark Sanchez melted down today and the team had to insert Josh Johnson it’s possible they reconsider, but still very unlikely.
  • In case you missed it, the Ravens could move on from John Harbaugh even if Baltimore makes the playoffs.

 

Panthers Owner David Tepper Considering Major Changes

When David Tepper purchased the Panthers for over $2.2 billion earlier this year, he indicated that he was comfortable with the team’s coaching and management situation and was not looking to make major changes. However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Tepper is growing increasingly uneasy with the status quo and has told those close to him that he may need to make those changes after all.

The Panthers got out to a hot start in 2018 but have lost three in a row and now find themselves on the fringes of the NFC playoff picture. Tepper is reportedly concerned about the dearth of modern analytics in the team’s operations, and the team’s regression on defense and a few questionable in-game decisions by head coach Ron Rivera have added to Tepper’s worries.

Rivera has served as Carolina’s head coach since 2011, and he has generally been quite successful, having compiled a 70-52-1 record and an NFC Championship. His job security has come into question a couple of times over the course of his tenure, but it was expected that Tepper, a former minority owner of the Steelers, would want to bring the Steeler Way to Carolina. In other words, he was expected to champion the ideals of continuity and stability, particularly with respect to someone like Rivera, who has established a mostly strong track record with the club.

GM Marty Hurney, who is in his second stint leading Carolina’s front office, was hired as the interim GM in 2017 and had the interim label removed earlier this year. If Rivera’s status is up in the air at this point, Hurney’s probably is as well.

Of course, the Panthers are still more than capable of qualifying for the playoffs and making a deep run, which would probably make all of this a moot point. Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer tweets that Tepper has been consistently communicative with the team’s front office and coaching staff about where they stand, though Rodrigue concedes that much will depend on how the Panthers perform down the stretch.

If Tepper does decide to part ways with Rivera, he may have his pick of the top head-coaching candidates. The roster already has plenty of talent, and Tepper himself is seen as bright, engaged, and progressive. The team’s GM position would be similarly attractive for those reasons.

La Canfora says that Tepper’s confidants have urged him to remain patient, but it sounds as if Rivera and Hurney could be on their way out if Carolina does not make the postseason.

Poll: Who Will Be The First Coach To Get Fired This Season?

It’s a new year for every coach in the NFL, but not every coach will survive the year. Already, there’s speculation about which coaches could be on the hot seat in 2018. Some coaches with shaky job security may include:

  • Hue Jackson, Browns: Jackson is the oddsmaker’s favorite to lose his job first. After compiling a 1-31 record in his two seasons at the helm in Cleveland, it’s hard to argue with the professionals. Jackson certainly has more talent to work with thanks to the arrivals of running back Carlos Hyde, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, and a vastly improved secondary, but along with that comes raised expectations. When also considering that Jackson is a holdover from the previous regime and not necessarily the preferred choice of new GM John Dorsey, it’s quite possible that Jackson could be ousted with another bad start.
  • Adam Gase, Dolphins: When Gase was hired in 2016, he was the league’s youngest head coach at the age of 38. He earned a playoff appearance in his first year on the sidelines, but last year turned ugly after quarterback Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season and replaced by Jay Cutler. Tannehill’s return should help matters, but it’s fair to wonder whether this team has improved much at all after losing Ndamukong Suh on the other side of the ball. The Dolphins’ early schedule may also hurt Gase as they open against the Titans, Jets, Raiders, and Patriots. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Dolphins split those games, like they did in 2017, but it’s also conceivable that they could open the year 0-4. As you can probably guess, an 0-4 start is historically difficult to climb out from. Of the 117 teams that have started 0-4 in the 16-game era, the ’92 Chargers are the ones to have reached the postseason with with an 11-win campaign. The 2004 Bills and the 2017 Chargers both rallied to win nine games, but neither club reached the playoffs.
  • Marvin Lewis, Bengals: The Lewis saga took some weird twists and turns last season. In the midst of a second-straight season without a playoff appearance, there was speculation about Lewis’ job security. Then, in December, we started hearing rumblings that Lewis might leave the Bengals to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Ultimately, Lewis was signed to a two-year extension to, theoretically, keep him under contract for his 16th and 17th seasons in Cincinnati. Lewis has avoided lame duck status for 2018, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll survive the year if the Bengals falter.
  • Vance Joseph, Broncos: Joseph was nearly axed after the 2017 season before John Elway ultimately decided to retain him. The Broncos’ defense is still jam-packed with talent and they have a capable quarterback in Case Keenum, so anything short of a playoff appearance will be a disappointment in Denver. This will be Joseph’s second season at the helm in Denver, but it’s clear that he is under pressure it win.
  • Dirk Koetter, Buccaneers: Koetter was already believed to be on the hot seat but he was placed squarely behind the 8-ball last week when quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended for the first three games of the season. Even if the Bucs come out of September unscathed, they’ll be up against an overall schedule that is the fourth-toughest in the NFL, based on the combined win percentage of opponents in 2017.

The list goes on from there. Jay Gruden (Redskins), Todd Bowles (Jets), Bill O’Brien (Texans), Jason Garrett (Cowboys), John Harbaugh (Ravens), and Ron Rivera (Panthers) could also be in varying degrees of jeopardy with disappointing seasons. We’d be surprised to see a quick hook for Garrett, Harbaugh, or Rivera no matter what happens, but you may feel differently.

Click below to make your pick for who will be the first to get the axe. Then, you can head to the comment section to back up your choice.

[RELATED: The Average Age Of NFL Head Coaches In 2018]

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Saints, Bucs

David Tepper‘s $2.275 billion Panthers purchase price was not the high bid during this process. Albert Breer of SI.com reports Ben Navarro‘s bid came in closer to Jerry Richardson‘s desired $2.6 billion price. But NFL owners had long preferred Tepper, a part-owner of the Steelers, to Navarro. Richardson wanted the team to go to a Carolinian, and Navarro is a Charleston, S.C., native. However, Tepper was able to make his bid mostly in cash, whereas Navarro had to bring in partners some in the league’s power structure found unsatisfactory. The NFL “didn’t trust his money,” Breer writes, paving the way for Tepper. A credit card company mogul, Navarro encountered scrutiny from other owners, to the point he had to hire a PR firm to navigate obstacles during this high-profile pursuit. Additionally, fellow bidder Michael Rubin assembled a group of potential buyers that turned off some owners, Breer reports.

Here’s the latest from the NFC South, which involves the highest-profile player in the NBA’s Pacific Division.

  • Rubin attempted to bring in Steph Curry, a Charlotte native, but the NBA nixed that, Breer reports. A Curry/Rubin venture would have violated an NBA bylaw that prevents players from forming business partnerships with owners from other teams. The Golden State Warriors’ two-time MVP would have been working with a part-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers in Rubin, and even though they would have been partners in another sport, that evidently wouldn’t have mattered.
  • Tepper will try to run the Panthers like the Steelers; he’s unlikely to change Carolina’s football operations at this point. In preparation for this entrance into the franchise-ownership game, Tepper consulted Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and VP of football and business administration Omar Khan about Panthers GM Marty Hurney and HC Ron Rivera. And Breer reports the Pittsburgh execs were staunch supporters of both Carolina decision-makers.
  • The Saints will convert UDFA tight end Nate Wozniak to tackle, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports. A University of Minnesota product who caught just 28 passes in four seasons, the 6-foot-10 Wozniak weighed only 268 pounds at his pro day. He’s coming in north of 280 now and is aiming to get to 300, per Katzenstein, who adds other teams pursued Wozniak in hopes of converting him to tackle.
  • A Buccaneers staffer since 2014, Brian McLaughlin will ascend to the role of a national scout. Jenna Laine of ESPN.com notes McLaughlin will be part of National Football Scouting, of which 15 NFL teams are affiliated, and piece together early prospect rankings that help set up organizational scouting reports.

New Panthers Owner Unlikely To Alter Football Ops

Minority Steelers owner David Tepper was expected to formally purchase the Panthers today, and while he’ll assume control of the franchise in the near future, Tepper isn’t planning to overhaul Carolina’s front office or coaching staff, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

General manager Marty Hurney and head coach Ron Rivera are each under contract through the 2020 campaign, and given that Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported earlier today Tepper wants to bring the “Steeler Way” to Carolina, it’s no surprise he’s unwilling to make major changes upon takeover. Indeed, “continuity, stability, [and] progressive thinking on player contract extensions” are said to be Tepper’s initial goals, so keeping incumbent staff in place seems like an obvious strategy.

Rivera, of course, has enjoyed immense success as the Panthers’ head coach, but Hurney’s status as general manager seemed a bit more tenuous. Hurney, now in his second stint leading Carolina’s front office, only recently had the interim label removed from his title, and it was unclear whether new ownership would seek to retain him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Conduct Second Interview With Lake Dawson

Marty Hurney met with NFL investigator Lisa Friel on Friday as part of a league investigation into a since-withdrawn domestic violence claim made by Hurney’s ex-wife. This has affected the Panthers’ GM interview process, with Hurney — who served as interim GM last season — previously viewed as the favorite to be named full-time GM.

However, the Panthers may now be leaning toward hiring an external candidate, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports (on Twitter).

One of the outside candidates that went through the initial interview process, Lake Dawson, was summoned back to Charlotte for a second meeting, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports.

Dawson was one of three outside candidates interviewed for this post, joining 49ers exec Martin Mayhew and Texans player personnel VP Jimmy Raye III.

Currently the Bills’ assistant college scouting director, Dawson also interviewed for the Panthers’ GM position when it was previously open in 2013. Dave Gettleman won that race, but Dawson is firmly in the mix this time. Ron Rivera has been part of this search process as well, but the eighth-year HC wasn’t in the meeting when Dawson returned to North Carolina.

Hurney is currently on paid leave as the NFL conducts its investigation, and Person reports nothing is imminent on making this hire. Although Jerry Richardson intends to sell the Panthers, Person reports does not want to make a rash decision regarding Hurney, whom he once fired to clear the way for Gettleman.