The Carolina Panthers fired Ron Rivera, their head coach for nearly nine seasons. These articles examine who might be next for owner David Tepper and his team.

With the passing of Week 17, the twenty teams in the NFL who missed the playoffs will turn their attention to the 2020 season. The Carolina Panthers have had an eye on next year ever since they fired their head coach Ron Rivera earlier in December. Rivera was the second head coach to be fired in the 2019 NFL season, even with the best win percentage of any coach in the Panthers’ history and a 2019 season hampered by injuries. This move had reportedly been under consideration by owner David Tepper ever since he bought the team in May 2018, however, and Tepper stated that he wanted to move now on the head coaching position.

FPC Panthers’ previous article put forward the reasons why Panthers might potentially retain Fewell. That scenario was only a possibility, and is even more unlikely given the team has not had a lot of success in the recent weeks under his leadership. Carolina has lost every single game since Fewell took over, including big defeats by struggling teams in the Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts. It was just reported that Fewell will get an interview for the permanent position, but other candidates will be considered by the Panthers.

If Tepper’s comments after the firing of Rivera can be taken at face value, in sum he wants an offensive minded coach, would prefer a professional coach over a college coach, and wants someone who can discipline players to build a strong team as well as use sophisticated analytics to develop an effective game plan. That suggests a number of possible coaches.

Thus, as FPC Panthers speculated after Rivera was fired, the top five prospects for the Panthers’ head coach are as follows:

Josh McDaniels – Offensive Coordinator, New England Patriots

Greg Roman – Offensive Coordinator, Baltimore Ravens

Eric Bieniemy – Offensive Coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs

Mike McCarthy – Free Agent, most recently Head Coach, Green Bay Packers

Lincoln Riley – Head Coach, University of Oklahoma

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Individual analyses will follow of why these coaches are best suited for the position given Tepper’s parameters.

Josh McDaniels – Offensive Coordinator, New England Patriots

Part of the reason that McDaniels is at the top of this list is that shortly after Rivera’s firing it was reported that the Panthers were interested in McDaniels. This speculation has continued in sports media with opinions expressed on why the Panthers could be a good spot for McDaniels. While the veracity of these reports remains to be seen, McDaniels continues to be a hot candidate for any open coaching position – even though he backed out on the Indianapolis Colts at the very last minute in 2018 – for one simple reason: the New England Patriots have been the most successful team in the NFL, arguably in all of sports, for the past two decades.

Coordinators, personnel directors and even position group coaches from Foxborough are still in demand despite the almost universal failure rate of Patriots staff on other teams. Bill O’Brien so far is the only former Patriot to meet with any kind of success as a NFL head coach, and he has the Houston Texans whipsawing between being underwhelming in losses in the Wild Card round and underdelivering on a talented roster in disappointing regular seasons.

There are more reasons for McDaniels to stay in New England and only one reason to leave. What’s more, given that McDaniels backed out on the Colts, it’s possible he might not be enticed by another team that has a dubious situation at quarterback due to injuries. Additionally, McDaniels is already being sought by multiple teams, so he has options and the Panthers would likely have to make a very attractive offer.

In terms of what McDaniels offers Carolina, he could bring the old school discipline and new school smarts that Tepper is looking for. McDaniels has shown at times that he is a creative offensive mind, and it is intriguing to speculate what he could do with an effective and multifaceted weapon like Christian McCaffrey and a dynamic quarterback should Cam Newton prove to be healthy. Yet it remains to be seen if McDaniels has learned his lessons from his tenure as head coach in Denver, as well as whether he can succeed without Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

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