Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
We had reported earlier that RB coach John Settle had been relieved of his duties. Later two more assistant coaches were shown the door: WR coach Fred Graves and LB coach Warren Belin.
Rivera kept his announcement short:
Carolina Panthers keep coordinators, but fire three assistants | CharlotteObserver.com
"These were tough decisions because each of these coaches has played an instrumental role on our staff over the last two seasons," Rivera said in a statement released by the team. "However, I have decided to go in a different direction at these positions."
Since I can't say those position groups (WR, LB, RB) significantly under performed in 2012 I find these firings curious. Certainly the LBs were a bright spot and the WRs were adequate with a 2nd straight 1,000 season from Steve Smith. Joe Person though offers an explanation that doesn't involve player performance:
Inside the Panthers: Would Wannstedt be a fit for Panthers?
Ultimately, Rivera fired three assistants whom he didn't have much history with. Rivera must have had his reasons, although he did not share them in his two-sentence statement released by the team.
Was it simply lining up the most palatable scape goats? Maybe. Rivera did keep his coordinators and the guys he's known for a while.
I think Rivera has realized he had a very young staff in 2012 outside of Graves and QB coach Mike Shula. If he thought he could mentor all the young guys himself he was wrong. So instead I think Rivera reaches out and tries to get some replacements with more experience. In fact, Joe Person has thrown out a name that makes sense:
Would (Dave) Wannstedt (be interested in LB coach)?
Maybe, especially if no one is interested in hiring him as a defensive coordinator. Wannstedt has coached nearly every position on defense, including Buffalo's linebackers in 2011. Wannstedt was the Bills' assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach that season. The Panthers haven't had anyone with an assistant head coach title under Rivera. But Wannstedt could be a fit.
On first blush I love that idea. Kuechly mentored by one of the better defensive minds in the NFL? If Wannstedt is still looking for a challenge and doesn't get any bites at DC them maybe he would then look at the situation, the staff and the potential to win. I agree Carolina would seem to be a good fit at LBs coach.
Thoughts on these firings and Wannstedt?