Analysis: The Panthers made a much-needed change by firing Ron Rivera

Ron Rivera is about as well-respected as any individual can be in the NFL. He always conducted himself like a professional and never gave any cause for concern off the field. Coaching at this level is an intensively competitive business, though and Rivera seemed to be falling behind his peers.

Today, the Carolina Panthers announced that Rivera was fired, ending a partnership of over eight and a half years.

Sunday's mortifying loss to Washington might stick in fans' minds most, but the team had a fair amount of success in the Rivera era. He didn't win the Coach of the Year award twice for no reason and they did reach the Super Bowl one year. That being said, Rivera's act had grown stale - which is the exact adjective Jonathan Stewart used to describer the team's play a few weeks ago.

Whether it was his stubborn insistence on giving snaps to veterans over younger players, his inconsistent use of analytics or a determination to pursue an old-fashioned philosophy of football, time passed Rivera bye. It's unclear exactly when it happened, but by the time the final whistle blew Sunday afternoon, it was clear the Rivera era was over. He deserves our respect for his character, but it was time to move on.

Moving forward, owner David Tepper should re-evaluate every part of his franchise - not just the coaching staff. General manager Marty Hurney may be a favorite, but he's played a hand in this team's falling short of its potential, as well.

For now, Perry Fewell and Norv Turner will guide this team as best they can for the last month of the season. That time should be used to evaluate and develop talents like Will Grier and Brian Burns and try new methods that Rivera may have eschewed in favor of tradition.

If they can do that, these last four games should be considered a success no matter how many they win.

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on USA TODAY

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