Panthers' search begins with defense in mind

If the beginning of their search process is an indication of what way the Carolina Panthers are leaning, look for them to hire a new coach with a defensive background.

The Panthers have asked for permission to interview San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, according to Darin Gantt of the Charlotte Observer. Their names are the first two to be identified in the club’s effort to replace John Fox, whose contract expired.

Rivera, 48, has been a hot head-coaching candidate in the past and is an intriguing candidate because he has a well-rounded background on defense, having worked under Jim Johnson, coached the Tampa 2 with the Chicago Bears and implemented a 3-4 scheme with the Chargers.

Fewell, also 48, served as the interim coach of the Buffalo Bills in 2009.

By interviewing Rivera and Fewell, the Panthers would satisfy the Rooney Rule. It’s expected more candidates will surface. The Panthers would be wise to move quickly because the sooner a team hires a head coach, the sooner he can begin to piece together a coaching staff.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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