Just a few hours ago, Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera announced that Brian Murphy, the Special Teams Coach, has been fired.
The news comes after yet another embarrassing loss – this time at the hands of the coach Rivera replaced in 2011 when the organization declined to renew John Fox’s contract.
The Panthers gave up a 76-yard punt return touchdown to the Broncos in yesterday’s 34-16 loss, putting an exclamation point on the poor coverage the special teams have been plagued by going back to last season. The fact that Trindon Holliday tossed the ball out of his hands just before crossing the plane of the goal line is notwithstanding – that’s something the officials blew the call on. What remains is that the Panthers allowed the event to occur in the first place.
According to Marc Sessler of NFL.com, the Panthers rank dead last in the NFL in punt returns with a 5.6 yds/return average. Sessler goes on to say that the Panthers rank 21st in kickoff returns with a 22.5 average.
He also points out something Panthers’ fans have known for some time. 4th round pick, WR Joe Adams of Arkansas, has been benched since September. He’s seen no returns since and has 0 receptions on the season. In the few games he did play, he looked awkward with his decision making, often running towards the ball on a punt only to let it hit the ground and bounce – all while he’s way too close for comfort. One bounce his direction and a touched ball means a turnover and good field position for the other team, and he’s also fumbled/muffed multiple return attempts. He needs to learn ball security and when to run the AWAY from a punt.
Captain Munnerlyn has been handling returns while Adams is benched.
Richard Rodgers, the assistant ST coach, is the replacement for Murphy.
You can read Sessler’s article on NFL.com.
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