The Carolina Panthers are a mere shell of the offensive superpower they were a season ago. Quarterback Cam Newton has jumped off the deep end and forgotten how to swim. He has just five touchdown passes compared to eight interceptions.
The team's read-option offense has recently been abandoned in favor of a more pro-style attack. This change of pace has relegated DeAngelo Williams to nothing more than a Wildcat role while Jonathan Stewart has been elevated to feature back status.
The problem is that Stewart has gained only 235 yards and zero touchdowns so far this season. This is not to say Carolina has not shown signs of life, but this is a Panthers team incapable of winning close games.
Since Rivera took over the head coaching job, Carolina is just 1-10 in games decided by seven points or less. That is clearly unacceptable and in a "what have you done for me lately" league such as this, Rivera has not passed any sort of test.
Blame cannot fall solely on him. Injuries to players like Chris Gamble and Jon Beason have hindered the Panthers defensive prowess and efficiency. But sitting at 2-6 in your second season in charge does not lend itself to many excuses.
Carolina has struggled for nearly the entire season. It was a positive sign to see the Panthers play wel against the Washington Redskins, but Carolina also looked impressive when they defeated the Saints in Week 2. So, where does that leave Rivera's hot seat status?
Is it possible that he could be one of those mid-season firings that happen all too often? Carolina obviously has no chance at competing for the NFC South division or even a playoff spot at this point.
The general manager that hired him, Marty Hurney, was fired earlier in the season. That would appear to open the door for Rivera to be let go as well. However, Rivera has two years remaining on his $11.2 million contract.
An interim GM, Brandon Beane, is in place at the moment and keeping Rivera on until the end of the season for stability's sake is always a possibility. Rivera even hinted that perhaps his assistant coaches will be the ones to bite the bullet for him (h/t Pro Football Talk:)
“This is a process that we’re going to go through as far as an evaluation and we’ll see how things go,” Rivera said staff changes. “If that’s what has to happen eventually, then yeah – maybe that’s what happens. Do we cut players? Yeah. If we have to, maybe that’s what we’ll have to do.”
What is known is that changes are needed in Carolina. When or where they will come is not known, but a Week 9 win over the Washington Redskins is not enough reason to cool Rivera's seat.
Yes, he has two years left on his contract and there are other guys that could be let go before him, but not to think Rivera could be let go at any time would be foolish.
Current Hot Seat Odds
8-1 he gets fired at some point during the season