Ron Rivera's Coaching Staff Evolving

After taking over the NFL's youngest roster, Ron Rivera's top priority was to fill out a coaching staff of teachers. He is well on his way to accomplishing that goal.

The latest addition to the coaching staff is reportedly Sean McDermott, who will take over as defensive coordinator after spending the last two years in the same capacity with the Philadelphia Eagles. McDermott is a disciple of Jim Johnson, as is Rivera.

Johnson, the long-time Eagles coordinator who died of cancer in 2009, was known for his aggressive and exotic blitz packages. Rivera and McDermott follow in those footsteps, as evidenced by the fact the San Diego Chargers and Eagles both ranked in the top 10 in sacks this season.

While McDermott takes over the coordinator title, Rivera will still coach the defense.

Also coaching the defense will be Ron Meeks, who takes over as the defensive backfield coach after spending the last nine years as a coordinator (two in Carolina and seven with the Indianapolis Colts).

The retention of Meeks is a coup, not only because of Meeks' experience coaching defensive backs (he has served as the secondary coach for the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams), but also because of Meeks' familiarity with the Panthers' personnel.


OC Rob Chudzinski
Mark Duncan/AP
The Panthers ranked No. 11 in pass defense in 2010.

Also staying on the staff is Sam Mills III, who has been with the team since 2005. The son of late Panthers LB Sam Mills Jr., he returns as a defensive quality coach.

"They are good coaches and are familiar with the players and organization," Rivera said.

On the offensive side of the ball, Rivera reached into his bag of San Diego connections and brought over Rob Chudzinski, who spent the last two seasons as San Diego's assistant head coach and tight ends coach. Chudzinski, who also spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns, is an excellent game planner who excels by using creative formations and motions to generate mismatches for his playmakers.

Chudzinski once turned Derek Anderson into a Pro Bowler; if anyone can make something out of Jimmy Clausen, it's him.

Rivera went outside his inner circle for the next hire, bringing in special teams coach Brian Murphy from the Minnesota Vikings. Murphy spent the last five years working with the Vikings' special teams, serving as coordinator in 2009 and 2010. Prior to that, he spent four seasons coaching special teams at the University of Wisconsin.

It was important for Rivera to hire an experienced special teams coach after special teams meltdowns almost single-handedly kept his Chargers out of the playoffs.

"[Murphy] has had success on the both the college and professional levels working with special teams and brings experience in every aspect of that critical phase of the game," Rivera said.

While the Panthers avoided big (and therefore expensive) names like Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden this offseason, fans have every reason to be very excited about the coaching staff that has been assembled.



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Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and also a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. You can see more of his updates by following him on Twitter.


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