According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Carolina Panthers have hired San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera to be John Fox's successor as head coach.
Last season, Rivera led a Chargers defense that ranked No. 1 overall in the NFL. That's right, the Chargers—not the Steelers or the Bears—had the league's best-ranked defense.
As a fan of the Chicago Bears, it did not surprise me that Rivera has turned San Diego into a place where defense is stingy. When he was the Bears' defensive coordinator in the mid-2000s, he helped turn Chicago back into the Monsters of the Midway with a healthy Brian Urlacher.
What surprised me is how long it took him to get his promotion to head coach. After Chicago's Super Bowl run, it was rumored that Rivera was a candidate for the Chargers' head coach position after Marty Schottenheimer was canned.
Heck, with Lovie Smith having issues with his contract, some speculated that Rivera would get the promotion with the Bears.
Instead, Smith stayed with the Bears. The Chargers hired Norv Turner as their head coach and Ron Rivera as...linebackers coach?
That's right. After leading a defense that carried the Bears to the NFC title, Rivera took a demotion.
Now, after turning San Diego into a defensive powerhouse as their defensive coordinator, he is finally getting his long-overdue promotion.
He will be taking over a team that had the 18th-ranked defense last year. But this defense, although challenged unfairly last year due to one of the worst offenses the NFL has ever seen, showed some fight last year and has the potential to be great, with linebacker Jon Beason leading the way.
With Rivera taking over the reins in Charlotte, offenses should beware the Monsters of Tobacco Road.
Other NFL Head-Coaching Vacancy News
*Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has recently been interviewed by the Cleveland Browns, as they search for a replacement for Eric Mangini.
*Whoever takes over as the Raiders' head coach should bring a good defensive game plan with him, and Nnamdi Asomugha has become a free agent due to having his contract voided.
This article can also be seen on Drew Rosten's Sports Thread at http://drewrosten.blogspot.com/. Also check out the Sports Thread throughout the week as I preview and predict the outcomes of Divisional Round playoff games. The article regarding the Seahawks-Bears game has already been posted.