Panthers axe Rivera after Redskins loss

Los Angeles (AFP) –


The Carolina Panthers sacked head coach Ron Rivera on Tuesday in the wake of the team's defeat to the Washington Redskins last weekend.

Rivera, who guided the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance, leaves Carolina after nine seasons in charge.

"I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team," Panthers owner David Tepper said in a statement.

"I have a great deal of respect for Ron and the contributions he has made to this franchise and to this community. I wish him the best. I will immediately begin the search for the next head coach of the Carolina Panthers."

The 57-year-old Rivera's position came under fierce scrutiny after the Panthers crashed to a 29-21 home defeat against 3-9 Washington on Sunday.

The loss was the Panthers' fourth straight defeat, leaving them at 5-7 for the season and on course to miss out on the playoffs.

Perry Fewell has been named interim head coach while offensive coordinator Norv Turner was named special assistant to the head coach. Quarterbacks coach Scott Turner will serve as offensive coordinator.

Rivera, who was appointed in 2011, led the Panthers to an NFC Championship and three NFC South titles during his tenure and was named NFL Coach of the Year in the 2015 season.

But the Panthers fortunes have nosedived since the team was beaten by the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl in February 2016, with injuries and the fluctuating form of quarterback Cam Newton contributing to the decline.

Since defeat in Super Bowl 50, the Panthers have only reached the playoffs once, losing in the wildcard game two years ago.

Tepper said the Panthers would undertake a "comprehensive and thorough" review of the team's operation following Rivera's dismissal.

"Our vision is to find the right mix of old-school discipline and toughness with modern and innovative processes," Tepper said.

"We will consider a wide range of football executives to complement our current football staff...we are committed to building and maintaining a championship culture for our team and our fans."