CAROLINA PANTHERS

Rivera remains as coach

Team finished as 10th-best defense, 12th-best offenseTeam finished as 10th-best defense, 12th-best offense

The Charlotte ObserverJanuary 6, 2013 

— The Panthers still are in the market for a general manager, but they won’t be looking for a new coach.

Ron Rivera has been retained following a long-anticipated meeting with Panthers owner Jerry Richardson on Saturday, a team spokesman said.

Rivera, 13-19 in two seasons in Charlotte, has two years remaining on his $11.2 million contract.

Rivera did not immediately return a phone message Saturday.

Rivera’s future became an issue during the final 10 weeks of the season after Richardson fired general manager Marty Hurney in October, telling Rivera he wanted to see the team “trend upward.”

The Panthers (7-9) won five of their final six games, including their final four in a row, to finish in second place in the NFC South, a game better than Rivera’s first season. The winning streak was the longest since 2008, the last time the Panthers made the playoffs.

Rivera waited six days following last weekend’s 44-38 win at New Orleans for his meeting with Richardson. Rivera has said all along he believed he had the owner’s support.

Despite tying a team record by placing 18 players on injured reserve — including five starters — the Panthers were 10th in the league in total defense, and 12th in total offense.

The Panthers struggled in close games for the second year in a row. The win at New Orleans improved Rivera’s record to 2-12 in games decided by a touchdown or less.

But Rivera pointed to the development of quarterback Cam Newton, the improvement of the defense following Luke Kuechly’s shift from outside to middle linebacker and the big plays on in all three phases as signs of the team’s growth.

The team will begin interviewing GM candidates Monday. Interim GM Brandon Beane, who was Hurney’s top aide, will receive serious consideration.

With former New York Giants GM Ernie Accorsi consulting on the search, the Panthers reportedly have asked permission to speak to two Giants executives — senior pro personnel analyst Dave Gettleman and director of college scouting Marc Ross.

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