Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera spent some time recently with another successful coach in sports to try picking up some tips. That person is Chad Knaus, who is Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief and has helped his driver win six championships.
While talking with ESPN’s David Newton about what he learned from Knaus, Rivera made an analogy that some believe applies to the situation with former Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith. It came up in the context of Knaus swapping out Johnson’s entire 7-man pit crew in 2010 and going on to win the Sprint Cup.
“This guy may jack the car up a 10th of a second faster, but he doesn’t work as well together with others,” Rivera said, “while this guy may be a 10th of a second slower, yet he works well with everybody. We’re the same way. It’s about, ‘How does this guy fit in the locker room?’”
And just like that, the team’s reason for cutting Smith — the franchise’s leading receiver — became even more clear.
A report said the Panthers’ GM viewed Smith as a distraction, and what Rivera said about the locker room seems to be the exact issue with Smith.
However, in March, the Panthers said Smith was cut for football reasons and cited his declining speed. Maybe both were factors in the decision.