The Carolina Panthers released John Fox a while back, and he has joined the Denver Broncos as their head coach. But it is even more impressive who they replaced in return. First, they replaced John Fox with Ron Rivera, former defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers. Then, they took on Sean McDermott, recently fired from the Philadelphia Eagles, as their defensive coordinator. With these two together nonetheless, the Carolina Panthers could be a defensive monster, rivaling the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Jets in their defenses.
Ron Rivera is the second Latino head coach in NFL history, and he brings to the Panthers an aggressive defensive mindset. In 1999, he was linebacker coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, and his potent defense led the Eagles to three consecutive NFC Championships. Additionally, he was formerly a defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears in 2006, and the Bears won the NFC Championship that year as well as competed in the Super Bowl. Recently, since 2008, he was the defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, taking them from 25th-ranked total defense to recently 1st in total defense in the entire league. That is simply remarkable. He had learned his system under the likes of Buddy Ryan, Lovie Smith and the late Jim Johnson, and can adapt to change from a 4-3 system to a 3-4 system.
With Sean McDermott now, they both share similar backgrounds. They both were with the Philadelphia Eagles, both were defensive coordinators (or still are), and most importantly, both learned their system of defense and its complexities under the late Jim Johnson. Sean McDermott, although criticized within the locker room by the players for some of his moves during the regular season, attempted to innovate the Eagles defense. However, the results produced were less than successful. Now that he has been given a second chance and a clean slate essentially under the guidance of Ron Rivera, the Panthers defense could potentially become one of the most formidable in the league in the next few years.
Both can lend creativity on their complex and blitz-heavy defensive schemes that could be troublesome for most teams. These birds of a feather who have legacies in the Philadelphia Eagles and the late Jim Johnson can now defend it together.