Though there are several changes new Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper intends to make now that he officially has taken over control of the team, one area he feels is in good hands is the coaching staff.
“You’re actually blessed with a pretty good football side here,” Tepper told reporters Tuesday at his introductory press conference. “A head coach who kind of understands and understands himself.”
Ron Rivera has been on the sideline as Panthers coach since 2011. He is 64-47-1 in that time, leading the team to the playoffs in four of the last five seasons, including a Super Bowl berth during the 2015 season.
The Panthers went 11-5 last season to clinch a wild card into the postseason, but were forced to make major changes to the coaching staff. Norv Turner replaces Mike Shula as offensive coordinator, while Eric Washington was promoted from defensive line coach to defensive coordinator when Steve Wilks was named the Arizona Cardinals’ head coach.
Despite the changes, Tepper reiterated his faith in Rivera.
“Ron is a natural defensive guy, OK, just natural,” Tepper said. “I mean, natural like walking down the street and drinking water, natural. So, I think you got to appreciate you got a guy understands that he wants to have the strength of the organization and bringing good people to do that. That’s important, so I think that’s kind of the things you like to see.”
Tepper also doesn’t intend to move the team from Charlotte, though he said new practice facilities are a necessity.
One thing Tepper can’t change is the statue of former owner Jerry Richardson outside Bank of America Stadium. Tepper revealed he is “contractually obligated” to keep the 13-foot-tall monument of Richardson holding a football next to two panthers as part the deal to purchase the team.
Richardson was the subject of a Sports Illustrated report in December claiming the Panthers settled with at least four former employees regarding workplace misconduct by Richardson. The NFL fined the 81-year-old $2.75 million following its investigation into the accusations.
—Field Level Media