The Carolina Panthers fired head coach Ron Rivera on Tuesday, replacing him with secondary coach Perry Fewell to coach the team in its final four games.
Will the coaching change open a window of opportunity for former West Virginia quarterback Will Grier that remained slammed shut under Rivera?
The Panthers drafted Grier in the third round of the 2019 draft. A third-round pick is a significant investment for a team to spend on a player. That level of expenditure is made on players a franchise believe can, at minimum, develop into starters.
The Panthers drafted Grier despite having former NFL MVP Cam Newton entrenched as their franchise quarterback. But at 30 years old, age and injuries were beginning to pile up and hamper Newton. It hit its zenith this season as the former Heisman Trophy winner played just two games before shoulder and foot injuries eventually ended his season.
It appeared to be a perfect situation for the rookie Grier to get his NFL career off and running.
It was not.
Instead, Rivera and the Panthers went with second-year Kyle Allen. Allen was an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M. Carolina had zero asset investment in him. But it was Allen, not Grier, who replaced Newton in Week 3.
Allen has taken every snap since.
Grier remained persona non grata despite Carolina undergoing a four-game losing streak. The Panthers situation was so dire they fired their coach who was in his ninth season and took the team to a Super Bowl.
But it wasn’t dire enough to even give Grier a single snap. Carolina hasn’t announced a switch to Grier despite Allen ending last week’s loss doing…this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsbT6FI2gAg
It would make total sense for Fewell to give Grier the ball for the Panthers last four games. While mathematically alive, Carolina’s playoff chances are realistically dead. Fewell isn’t going to be the coach next season. Everything is aligned for the front office to dictate to Fewell that Grier starts the last four games come hell or high water.
If Grier doesn’t start now, he probably never will.