"This is a very difficult decision, because these coaches have played an integral role in the success we have experienced since coming to the Panthers," Panthers Head Coach John Fox told the media on Monday. "They were part of a Super Bowl and two NFC Championship games, and those accomplishments would not have been possible without their contributions."
Henning, who has been the offensive coordinator for the Panthers since 2002, had been widely criticized for his ultra conservative play calling and had been criticized by both local media and fans for several years. Fans would often comment how Henning would often call a draw play on a third down and long situation and wasn't able to ever truly utilize the talents on the Panthers offensive roster.
"Obviously, these are difficult decisions," said Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney. "Any time you spend five years with people who have worked as hard as they have and have helped you achieve a certain level of success, such as a Super Bowl appearance and another NFC Championship game, it is very difficult to come to the decisions we came to today. They are all good coaches and good people. It just came down to a gut decision that we made in an effort to improve."
Some of the early speculation centers around current Panthers quarterback coach Mike McCoy, Panthers assistant head coach/running back coach Jim Skipper and former Baltimore Offensive Coordinator and Giants Head Coach Jim Fassell as possibilities to fill the void left by Henning's departure.
Skipper would obviously be the front-runner at this point, having actually run Panthers practice in Fox's absence and serving as assistant head coach this past season. Skipper and Fox have similar offensive philosophies, and spent several years together while both serving as assistant coaches with the New York Giants from 1997-2000.
Skipper has a knack for getting the best out of his players. Three of the top 5 rushing seasons in Panthers history came under Skipper's leadership, including a team-record 2,091 yards in 2003. In his career, Skipper has sent 4 different running backs to the Pro Bowl: Rueben Mayes and Dalton Hilliard from the Saints, Larry Centers of the Cardinals and Stephen Davis of the Panthers.
Panthers fire Henning, Maser and Perry
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