The Carolina Panthers have made a move many expected them to make after head coach John Fox led the team to a 2-14 record this season: they replaced him with Ron Rivera, the San Diego Chargers’ defensive coordinator. Rivera’s naming as the head coach marks only the second time that a Latino head coach takes the reins of an NFL team. Rivera has obviously done a great job with the Chargers, as the team ranked tops in total defense this season. Having played with the Chicago Bears as a linebacker, Rivera took over as defensive coordinator for the Bears in the 2004-2005 season.
The fact that he was a player was certainly a factor in the decision that the Panthers’ front office made, according to owner Jerry Richardson, himself an ex-Baltimore Colts receiver. Rivera declared that he was thrilled with the opportunity and that his goals would be nothing short of a Super Bowl Championship. In other news: the Denver Broncos continue to struggle to fill the head coach position, as Greg Williams became the latest candidate to turn down an interview for the job. Williams withdrew his name from the candidates’ list only 24 hours after he had expressed interest. Atlanta’s offensive coordinator, Mike Mularkey turned down an interview about a week ago and Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh joined the 49ers without ever even considering the issue.
With all the shuffling on coaching level, other teams have made changes as well. The Browns have interviewed Giants’ defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, for the position of head coach after it was vacated by Eric Mangini. Fewell was the third candidate for the position. Pat Shurmur and Mike Mularkey are in the books for the Browns as well. Rich Bisaccia found a job at the Chargers in the meantime, coaching their special teams. Changes are afoot in KC as well. Todd Haley is currently looking for a replacement for Charlie Weis, the offensive coordinator who accepted a similar job in Florida. Haley may end up calling plays himself again, after his 2009 stint, when he fired Chan Gailey and went on to fill his shoes himself.