Panthers Make the Right Call Extending Rivera
Ron Rivera is a stand up guy. That’s where my support begins. While I certainly had moments when I didn’t believe in him as a head coach, I always liked the guy. And it’s obvious Carolina’s players feel the same way. In 2012, when Rivera’s job was threatened at 2-8, they closed 5-1 to buy him another season. When the Panthers started out 0-2 this fall and his job was hanging by a thread, they closed 12-2. The team could have quit several times during Rivera’s three-year tenure. It didn’t happen, not once.
Here’s a two-minute clip of Mick Mixon, voice of the Panthers, telling me why Rivera engenders so much loyalty:
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To me, genuine appreciation between the players and coaching staff is a necessity. But I also understand that there’s more to coaching than being liked. Rivera meets the on-field standard as well. He’s evaluated his shortcomings and been willing to adapt. In the past, he wasn’t aggressive in short yardage situations. Now, we all know him as Riverboat Ron. In the past, he was too willing to delegate to his staff. Now, he takes a more assertive role when he feels the need to. Take his forte, defense, and look at Carolina’s improvement over his three years at the helm. They’ve gone from 27th to 18th to 2nd in scoring defense over that arc. That mirrors inheriting a two-win team, improving it to six wins, then seven, then 12 over that same period. Sure, the offense needs work, but the organization is unquestionably trending upward.
With three consecutive seasons of higher win totals, with his willingness to adapt and the support of his players, extending Rivera was a no-brainer. Now, it’s time for GM Dave Gettleman to strike a deal with Greg Hardy and find better weapons for Cam.