The Carolina Panthers fired head coach Ron Rivera after their disappointing Week 13 loss to the rebuilding Washington Redskins. The loss pushed their slide to four straight games, and all but put the dagger in their playoff hopes as their record sank to 5-7.
Rivera had a record of 76-63-1 in his nine years with the Panthers. That includes a 15-1 season in which they made Super Bowl 50, losing to the Denver Broncos. He posted a 3-4 record in the playoffs overall.
Carolina named defensive backs coach Perry Fewell to the interim coaching position. He could retain the job if the Panthers perform well enough under him, but according to the betting odds via Odds Shark, he is not a favorite.
With the odds officially out, let’s take a look at some likely candidates to fill the position.
Harbaugh has been a popular name for head coach vacancies since the moment he and the 49ers parted ways. He entered the college coaching ranks at his alma mater, University of Michigan, and has had some success.
That success however has come with no College Football Playoff berths, and exactly zero wins against the school’s biggest rival, Ohio State. Failing to post a record without at least three losses in the four years he has been head coach, Harbaugh may be looking for a new challenge and a return to the NFL.
During his time in San Francisco, he took a team that had not had a winning season since 2002, and took them to the NFC Championship in his first three years, reaching Super Bowl 47 in 2012. The 49ers would go on to lose that Super Bowl (to Jim’s brother John Harbaugh), but had a formidable defense during his time there, and were playoff staples.
In his fourth year, the Niners faltered, falling to 8-8, and Harbaugh was unceremoniously let go. But it is time to give a wildly successful head coach another chance.
It is likely Harbaugh would only leave college for a team with good pieces in place, and Carolina has that. The Panthers have a good defense, and an offense with holes and a quarterback controversy. But giving him the reins in Charlotte could yield results fast, just like his tenure with San Francisco, if he takes the job.
It is not an official “head coach candidates” article without mentioning the Patriots’ long time offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels’ name has been thrown around for years, all around the league every time there is a coaching vacancy. For good reason, too. He has held four separate positions in New England, and has been a part of every Brady-Belichick Super Bowl win.
He tried his hand at head coach with the Denver Broncos for two years. In 2009 McDaniels and the Broncos collected an 8-8 record, then was fired midseason in 2010 after going 3-9 through 12 weeks.
Controversially, he accepted the job of Indianapolis Colts head coach in 2018, and then withdrew from the position to return to the Patriots. This drew the ire of many around the league, and caused his agent to drop him. McDaniels and the Patriots would go on to win the Super Bowl in that same year.
Being that he has coached Tom Brady and kept the Patriots offense more than afloat during their dynasty, he will always be a hot commodity. Perhaps less so this year, as the New England offense is faltering, but his reputation and experience in a winning culture speaks for itself.
In a more “what-if” scenario, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett could find himself with the Panthers’ coaching position in 2020.
With the Cowboys’ struggles this season, and Garrett’s failure to even get them to an NFC Championship game in his decade of service, his time may be up in Dallas. Team owner Jerry Jones even said Garrett would be “coaching in the NFL next year,” but did not mention he would be coaching for the Cowboys in any fashion.
Barring a miraculous playoff run and trip to the Super Bowl this year, Garrett is likely coaching his last season in Dallas. With that being said, he is a good offensive mind and a team player when it comes to front office politics.
Garrett is easy to work with, and a Panthers team that may need a new quarterback and a reboot offensively could do worse than to hire him.
Featured Image courtesy of Alec Cohen/Michigan Daily
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