Carolina annouced today that RBs coach John Settle, WRs coach Fred Graves, and LBs coach Warren Belin have been released.
It was interesting to have seen Belin and Settle, two career college coaches, come in for Rivera - whose staff dealt mainly with pro coaches, and neither Rivera nor DC Sean McDermott had any real college coaching experience. Both came from fairly good stock.
Graves was an established coach in the league, and had ties to Steve Smith. It might've been the ties to Smith that got him hired; it might also be why, with Smith now handily in Carolina for the rest of his career, that he won't be needed any longer.
I don't believe I'd say any of the three did a poor job. The RBs and LBs obviously had talent and production. That's not to say the firings were unjustified; it's fairly easy to say that they wanted more experienced coaches at RB and LB, and someone with more longevity at WR. Hard to totally say, though.
I would anticipate that Settle and Belin would each go back to college, and won't have much trouble finding work there. Graves, at 62, isn't at retirement age by any means, but it might hinder him. There were whispers that John Matsko would be fired on the OL, but not so far. Both coordinators are safe; nothing so far at all on the special teams - whether there's an opening, or whether Richard Rodgers is the guy.
A sign for possible hope - up to the start of the 2012 season there was only one change on the Rivera staff - Steve Wilks, DBs coach/Passing Game Coordinator, a guy I've lauded here so often. And he's worked out really well. So hopefully, as Rivera makes a few less concessions moving forward, hopefully that'll help these positions.
Now, for the openings:
Here's an incomplete list of guys I think make sense based on, in some situations, association; in others, competent coaching absent of association to the current coaches.
*Jim Skipper was fired in Tennessee, and we know he's good. But, only one of his old backs is likely to be on staff in 2013, so the cries for him won't be that strong. He has head coach, OC type duties (Giants) and assistant head coach duties in his background. Knows a version of this offense via the Dan Henning years.
*Curtis Modkins was Buffalo's OC the past three years, and was a RBs coach by trade.
*Ollie Wilson was RBs coach in San Diego. Pretty good. Probably would follow Norv to wherever he's going, or stay where he is. Knows the O, and three Panthers coaches, well.
*Tim Spencer coached the Bears from 2004. The Bears have been Coryell that entire time, though under three different coordinators.
*Charlie Joyner of the Chargers is likely to stay there.
*David Culley of the Eagles has been on staff since 1999. That sounds like a career Andy Reid guy to me.
*Scott Turner - Rob Chudzinski's right hand man might make sense for a promotion. Some of his current duties could go to Ricky Proehl, officially an assistant WRs coach as of last year (prior, "offensive consultant"). Or they could promote Proehl - it's possible that the younger Turner might want to follow his father (to an OC job somewhere) or uncle (to FIU).
*Dave Wannstedt got Ron Rivera his first job after his playing days were over, and coached Rivera. Wannstedt, an assistant head coach/LBs coach in 2011, became Buffalo's DC in 2012 to mixed results. He coached the Pitt Panthers team that Scott Turner was a WRs coach with.
*John Pagano was the LBs coach under Ron Rivera in San Diego; he was their DC last season after former Panther head coaching candidate Greg Manusky flamed out after one year. That defense finished 16th in yards but 9th in points. He doesn't have a lot of ties to Rivera (having been there since 2005), and it might be hard for him not to go join his brother, head coach of the Colts.
*Bob Babich was the Bears' LB coach from 2004; Rivera was DC from 04-06. Bob's son, Bobby, is a defensive assistant for the Panthers, but isn't apparently credited on the team site. He's been brought up by Rivera a few times.
Third Tier Assistants
There are a couple of non-positional assistants out there I like:
*Duce Staley, Asst Special Teams - SC native would make sense if Richard Rodgers stays as ST coach instead of receiving a demotion
*Kevin O'Dea, Asst Special Teams - Bears ST asst who was potentially sought as the STs coach here at one point.
*Cris Dishman, Asst DBs - Steve Wilks has done a great job, but let's give him a hand back there, too.
Of that list, Jim Skipper or Dave Wannstedt could be the Assistant Head Coach type that I could see Ron Rivera adding to his staff for additional responsibilities. Pagano might also make sense there.