Rivera still waiting on future after strong finish


Rivera still waiting on future after strong finish

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) While several coaches around the NFL found themselves without a job Monday, the Carolina Panthers' Ron Rivera escaped unscathed - at least for now.

Rivera's future remains twisting pending the outcome of a postseason meeting with owner Jerry Richardson. It's unclear when that meeting will come.

Richardson remained mum on the second -year coach's status one day after the Panthers won their fourth straight game to finish 7-9, a one-game improvement over 2011. He declined comment on Rivera's job security through the public relations staff.

Rivera said Monday at a news conference he hasn't spoken to Richardson about his future since Sunday's 44-38 victory at New Orleans, but indicated that the meeting is upcoming.

``What I was told is Mr. Richardson and I will sit down and discuss things and we'll go from there,'' Rivera said. ``I can't tell you anything more than that. I do look forward to the opportunity to meet with him and discuss this.''

Rivera has two years left on his contract.

Richardson might hire a general manager to get his input before deciding Rivera's fate.

Richardson can now begin interviewing potential GM candidates from teams whose seasons are complete.

He hired former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi to serve as a consultant for the GM search. Potential candidates include Giants college scouting director Marc Ross, Giants senior pro personnel analyst Dave Gettleman, and Panthers interim GM Brandon Beane.

Longtime Panthers GM Marty Hurney was fired after the team's 1-5 start and the owner put Rivera on notice at that point. Richardson told Rivera at the time the Panthers needed to be ``trending upward'' the rest of the season.

The Panthers went 6-4 the rest of the way.

They finished strong, winning five of their last six games, including a convincing 30-20 victory over the NFC's top seeded Atlanta Falcons, despite the fact they had five starters and 14 players overall on injured reserve.

``I like where we are and I like the things that we have done,'' Rivera said. ``I believe we are better now than when I first got here. And it's a job that I would like to have.''

Rivera spent Monday in exit interviews with his players and his staff.

Players said Rivera didn't discuss his future during their brief 10-minute meeting at Bank of America Stadium on Monday morning.

``He didn't mention it,'' offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner said. ``He just said thanks for the hard work this season and finishing the season on a strong note. That's kind of where it was left.''

Several players said they want Rivera to return.

``I think the way we finished the year shows how we feel about coach Rivera and the coaching staff,'' Hangartner said. ``We've all seen teams start 2-8 and finish 2-14 or 3-13. I think the way the guys prepared and finished on the note we did shows something.''

The Panthers haven't had a winning record since 2008 and haven't won a playoff game since 2005.

Does Richardson has the patience to stick with Rivera, 13-19 in two seasons, or does he cut ties with a coach who is 2-13 in games decided by seven points or less?

Despite failing to reach the postseason, there were several bright spots for the Panthers. The offense finished in high gear after struggling in the early part of the season, while the defense was strong throughout despite losing four starters.

The Panthers saw the continued development of second-year quarterback Cam Newton, particularly in the final six games when he completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,474 yards with 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Newton also ran for 347 yards and four scores during that span.

Overall, Newton's numbers were on par with his rookie year, throwing for 3,869 yards passing with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He ran for 741 yards and eight touchdowns, down from his NFL-record of 14 TDs last season when he was voted Offensive Rookie of the Year.

``The biggest thing is he took a lot of the pressure off himself and we tried to help him take that pressure off,'' Rivera said. ``I think he got to the point where he realized he didn't have to make every play. And upon that realization you just saw that development as far as understanding things schematically, understanding the opponent he was to attack, and working on his base fundamentals. His footwork improved and his pocket presence improved.''

There were other standouts.

Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly became the first rookie to lead the NFL in tackles (164) since San Francisco's Patrick Willis in 2007. Kuechly moved to middle linebacker five games into the season and the Panthers went from 24th in the league in overall defense to 10th.

Ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy became the first Panthers tandem to get double digits in sacks in a decade. Receiver Steve Smith finished with his seventh 1,000-yard season. DeAngelo Williams ran for a franchise-record 210 yards in the season finale.

Rivera said it's been tough not knowing his future, but added, ``it is part of the process we're going through and we'll see how this thing unfolds.''


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Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown

James Washington

Wide receiver
Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington measured at 5 feet 11 inches at the combine and his 40 time was a pedestrian 4.54.

But forget about the numbers. His catch radius is larger than his height would indicate, and he plays much faster than the stopwatch says he does.

His route tree needs to be cleaned up but his ability to get open deep, make receptions on back shoulder throws and, yes, Redskins fans, fade patterns will make him a productive receiver while he learns.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 213
40-yard dash: 4.54

Projected draft round: 1-2

What they’re saying

He doesn't look like a receiver and he doesn't run routes like a receiver, but then you see him get open deep and make all those explosive plays, and you know exactly what he does for an offense.

—A Big 12 assistant coach via

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins needed a wide receiver to line up opposite Josh Doctson after Terrelle Pryor fizzled out last year. They went out and signed Paul Richardson to a free agent contract, solving the immediate need.

But in the NFL, you should always be looking for your next receiver. It takes most of them at least a season to develop so if you wait until you really need a pass catcher it’s too late to draft one. Washington has the capability to contribute early and develop from there.  

Film review: vs. Pitt, vs. TCU, vs. Oklahoma

—Like most coaches, Jay Gruden wants his wide receivers to block and Washington certainly gives it the effort. He helped backs gain extra yards on stretch plays with hustling blocks downfield. His technique may need some work—a long touchdown run against Oklahoma was called back when he was hit for holding—but the effort is there.

—Against the Sooners, Washington got by a cornerback who was in off coverage and beat him for a long gain. Later in the game, the corner was in press coverage and Washington made one move and beat the defender on a post for a touchdown. We can insert the usual cautions about Big 12 defenses here, but it still was impressive to watch.

—Speed is important but so is how fast a receiver can stop to catch a pass. On one underthrown fade pattern, Washington was able to slam on the brakes while the cornerback kept on running, making the catch for a nice gain out of the end zone an easy one.

—Against TCU he split two defenders on a deep pass. He caught the ball in stride and then he found a second gear and easily outraced the defensive backs to the end zone to complete the 86-yard play. This is a good example of Washington playing faster than his 40 time.

Potential issues: Washington is not a good enough prospect to warrant the No. 13 pick, but he could easily be gone by the time the time their second-round pick is on the clock. As noted above, the quality of the defenses he faced in compiling 74 receptions for 1,549 yards (20.9 per catch) and 13 touchdowns has to be considered.

Bottom line: If I’m the Redskins, I have a talk with Jamison Crowder’s agent before the draft to gauge what his client would want in order to sign an extension prior to the 2018 season. If it’s something the Redskins consider reasonable, they should look elsewhere in the second round. But if a 2019 Crowder departure seems likely,  they should look at Washington if he’s there in the second round. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


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Redskins withdraw contract offer to Junior Galette

Redskins withdraw contract offer to Junior Galette

It looks like the Redskins are moving on from Junior Galette.

Citing a team source, Chick Hernandez of NBC Sports Washington is reporting that the team has withdrawn its contract offer to Galette, the veteran pass rusher who finally got on the field last year after missing all of his first two seasons in Washington with injuries. He is an unrestricted free agent.

The Redskins may have a replacement for Galette lined up. They had former Bear Pernell McPhee in for a visit earlier this week and there was a report that they made him a contract offer after that. McPhee subsequently visited the Falcons facility, but he has not signed anywhere. However, there have been no reports that a deal is imminent as of this morning.


As for Galette, Hernandez mentions two possible destinations. One is the Browns, who have two key connections to Galette. Scot McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who signed Galette after he was cut by the Saints after the 2014 season is in the personnel department in Cleveland. In addition, Gregg Williams, who was the Saints’ defensive coordinator when Galette made the team as an undrafted rookie, currently has the same position with the Browns.

Another possibility is the Rams. The connections there are Joe Barry, the linebackers coach in LA who was Redskins’ defensive coordinator during Galette’s first two years with the team, and head coach Sean McVay, who was the offensive coordinator in Washington while Galette was on the other side of the ball.

Galette has said on social media lately that his first choice is to remain with the Redskins but that the money had to be “fair”. The interest in a return to Washington was mutual but evidently, the organization’s idea of fair and Galette’s differed by too great a margin to bridge the gap.  

Last year, Galette didn’t have an impressive sack total, getting three in a backup role. But he got plenty of pressure on the quarterback and that can be just as important as sacks.


Galette developed into a feared pass rusher with the Saints, getting double-digit sacks his last two seasons there. After signing him to a lucrative contract extension, the Saints abruptly released Galette due to some off-field issues. McCloughan and the Redskins signed him soon after the start of training camp in 2015 but before he could even play in a preseason game, he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in practice and he was out for the year.

His much-anticipated return the following year ended before it even started. Shortly before it was time to report to training camp, he tore the other Achilles and he was on the shelf again.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.