Not lost in the shuffle of Ray Lewis’ last home game, RGIII’s injury, and Alabama winning its third national championship in four years is the decision by the Carolina Panthers (mainly Jerry Richardson) to keep head coach Ron Rivera on for his upcoming third season.
After a rookie-head coaching season that ended 6-10, Panther fans had high expectations for this season, however the offense wasn’t clicking, the defense was playing poorly, and the team started 1-6. Many pointed second-year quarterback Cam Newton as the problem, others looked at the troubles in the secondary, and owner Jerry Richardson fired general manager Marty Hurney after the team opened 1-5.
However the biggest cry in Charlotte was for the head of Ron Rivera. As his team lost five of seven by less than 4 points the head coach stood by and watched without showing emotion. As fans yelled for his firing the head coach continued to do his job. After going a combined 7-16 in his first season and a half it seemed like it was time for him to go.
My personal opinion at the time was for the team to keep Rivera. I am not a fan of teams letting coaches go during the season and did not feel that he deserved to be fired. Going further back I was surprised when the Panthers picked Rivera to replace John Fox. I felt he was going to be a good head coach in the NFL one day, I just felt like this was a little too soon.
Now I feel like the decision to keep him was a good one. This is the first time that their record improved two years in a row from the previous seasons since the 2001-2003 stretch. Rivera made less of the mistakes he made during the first 23 games and the team went 6-4 during the final 10 games. As a young quarterback Cam Newton will benefit from having stability from the head coaching position.
Maybe I was right, maybe I was wrong. Either way he will at least have the offseason to prove himself as the leader of this team to Richardson and whoever the new general manager will be. I’m not saying Ron Rivera will go down in the record books as the most successful Panthers head coach but I believe he has the potential to lead the team he is given to work with to a wild card spot in the playoffs next year.
–Bruce Wilson is the owner of Superior Car Service . He is also currently writing his first novel. Follow him on Twitter @BruceRWilson
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