Ron Rivera survived Black Monday, but his future remains uncertain.
While seven of his coaching peers were fired Monday, the Carolina Panthers second-year coach stayed in limbo as he awaits a meeting with owner Jerry Richardson to learn his fate.
Rivera was not sure when the meeting would take place, saying it could be as soon as Monday. But indications are it might be Wednesday before he visits with Rivera.
As Ive said, Id like to have the opportunity to have the job. And thats pretty much it, Rivera said in his regularly scheduled Monday press conference. Well go from there and see.
The Panthers (7-9) won five of their last six games to finish in second place in the NFC South, a game better than Riveras first season. But they were 0-7 in games decided by a touchdown or less before Sundays 44-38 win at New Orleans.
When Richardson fired general manager Marty Hurney in November, he told Rivera he wanted to see the team trend upward over the final 10 weeks of the season. The Panthers were 6-4 after Hurneys firing, although only two of the wins came against teams with winning records.
Rivera, 50, would not say whether Richardson told him if the hiring of a GM would play a role in his future. The process of finding Hurneys successor began Monday when the Panthers asked to speak to two New York Giants executives director of college scouting Marc Ross and senior pro personnel analyst Dave Gettleman.
Ross, an all-Ivy League receiver at Princeton in 1993-94, has been cleared to speak with the Panthers, as well as the New York Jets, NFL.com reported.
Jason La Confora of CBSSports.com was the first to report the Panthers interest in Gettleman. Panthers interim GM Brandon Beane also is expected to get an interview.
At his press conference, Rivera highlighted the positives: Quarterback Cam Newtons continued development, rookie linebacker Luke Kuechlys place atop the leagues tackles list, Greg Olsens receiving records among Panthers tight ends and DeAngelo Williams club-record 210 rushing yards against the Saints.
The Panthers ranked among the leagues top defenses after Kuechly took over for the injured Jon Beason at middle linebacker in Week 5, and finished 10th in total defense.
After a slow start, the Panthers offense picked up the pace. Carolina has posted the franchises two best seasons in net yards and first downs in two years under offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.
There are so many good things that have come from the development of this team and the direction this team is heading, Rivera said.
When I look back at this year and reflect on it, Im most certainly going to reflect on how we finished and the things that weve done.
At a team meeting Monday morning, players said Rivera did not discuss his situation. As he did in the Superdome locker room after the win Sunday, Rivera thanked his players for continuing to play hard for him.
Ive been on teams, weve all seen teams, that start 2-8 and finish 2-14 or 3-13, said right guard Geoff Hangartner, who spent two seasons with Buffalo. I think the way the guys worked and the way the guys prepared, and continued to do that and finish on the note that we did, really shows how we feel about coach and his staff.
Defensive end Greg Hardy called the meeting a cheery occasion.
Were all just happy that we won and looking forward to whatever comes next, added Hardy. Hopefully, were all together.
Fullback Mike Tolbert said Rivera told players they should have been playing five more weeks. Instead, the Panthers missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year and finished with the 14th non-winning season in the franchises 18-year history.
Meanwhile, for Rivera, the waiting game continues.
Before a team official signaled the end of Mondays press conference, Rivera was asked was his gut feeling is.
My guts telling me (Richardson) wants to sit down and visit with me, Rivera said. Hes been great. He really has. Like I said, I like where we are. I like the things that weve done. I believe we are better now than when I first got here. And like I said also, its a job Id like to have.