Rivera tells players, coaches they're being evaluated over next 10 weeks, nobody's job safe
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the midseason firing of general manager Marty Hurney sends a succinct message to him and others in the organization that nobody's job is safe.
Rivera said Carolina's final 10 games are "an evaluation process" and he hasn't ruled out firing assistant coaches or cutting players for underperforming.
"In a situation like this is, when action is being taken, it doesn't mean the action has stopped," Rivera said. "By no means is it over."
In an email to The Associated Press Tuesday, owner Jerry Richardson indicated he's still in the beginning stages of finding a general manager to replace Hurney.
"I don't have enough information to have a meaningful discussion at this time," Richardson said.
For the time being, all personnel decisions will be discussed with director of player personnel Brandon Beane and others in that department. However, Rivera will have final say in all personnel decisions.
Rivera knows the evaluation process applies to him as well.
Rivera's seat got a little hotter Monday when Hurney, the man who hired him in 2011, was fired. New general managers tend to like to hire their own coaches and in some cases that person is one in the same.
The underachieving Panthers are 1-5 this season entering Sunday's game at Chicago and just 7-22 in two years under Rivera. The 50-year-old Rivera is in the second year of a four-year contract.
While Hurney accepted blame for the team's "losing environment" on Monday, he also added that he believes the Panthers need to find locker room leaders, a la Tom Brady in New England and Ray Lewis in Baltimore.
Rivera said he's not quite sure if the problem is leadership or something else.
"There is something we have to find that is missing," Rivera said. "I'm not sure if it's a leadership issue, a coaching issue, a playing issue or a schematic issue. But something is out of whack and we have to fix it."
Rivera tried to change things up schematically this past week against the Dallas Cowboys, benching DeAngelo Williams and allowing Jonathan Stewart a shot as the workhorse running back. Normally the Panthers split carries, but on Sunday the plan was to use Stewart as the clear featured back.
But the strategy failed as Stewart was held to 35 yards rushing on 10 carries.
Williams carried twice for 4 yards.
The Panthers lost 19-14.
When asked about the running game, quarterback Cam Newton said "I'm not the offensive coordinator. ...
"We haven't had it exciting like we want it to be but we still have to call the plays. It's kind of but a strangle on our passing game. We have to be more balanced."
Rivera said other such personnel and scheme changes could be coming this week and that others, including his assistant coaches and players could stand to lose their jobs if things don't get turned around.
"If that is what has to happen eventually then yeah, maybe that is what happens," Rivera said. "Do we cut players? Yeah, maybe that is part of what we'll have to do too. Do we change what we do? Yeah, if that's what we have to do. We're evaluating everything from here on out."
As for his own future with the Panthers, Rivera views every day as a fight to keep his job.
"I always feel like I'm coaching for my job," Rivera said. "Just like when I was a player for nine years in Chicago. I came in every day wondering if I was going to get cut. This is no different. I come to work like I did as a player and that's to do the best I can."
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL