By Ted Fleming
One of the good things that came out of the Panthers lopsided win over the New York Football Giants is the media can now go back to more mundane things, like covering football. Even before the game it was reported that head coach Ron Rivera was not going to get fired regardless of Sunday’s outcome and now the victory has pretty much sealed his fate. He has job security.
While everyone was beating their keyboards into submission, there was no logic in sending Rivera on his way. Exactly what purpose would it have served? It wasn’t like Vince Lombardi was available – the guy who had an 89-29-4 record with the Packers, not the non-playoff coach of the Redskins.
General Manager Dave Gettleman is a smart man and he probably realized that two games were not enough for him to judge Rivera. And looking out at the landscape of available coaches, his only alternatives would have been defensive coordinator Sean McDermott – a defensive minded coach being replaced by the same – or offensive coordinator Mike Shula. The latter had come under some scrutiny for his timid play calling in the first two contests.
When it slipped out before the game that Rivera wasn’t going to lose his job, it buried many leads that were expected to be written after the Panthers lost to the Giants. The expected didn’t happen, in both cases, and the win changed the entire conversation.
Fans may have questioned the wisdom of Gettleman’s decision before Sunday’s game, but not after it. Players who faced question after question about their coach will now be asked more relevant things like, “What are you going to do on your week off?” The front office can now delete all the unread hate mail that came in pre-Giants. Best of all, Ron Rivera can now coach without a dark cloud following him wherever he goes.
Job security is a wonderful thing, but it is still fleeting. You can bet if the Panthers drop a few heart-breakers in the coming weeks the storylines will revert back to the days after Buffalo. One win is not a cure-all and Rivera knows that. He has to keep his team focused on three non-division games with the Cardinals, Vikings and Rams (who are a combined 2-7) before going back to an NFC South meeting with the 0-3 Buccaneers in Tampa.
Beating the Giants was a good thing. No, a great thing. Because it proved to the team they can beat anyone on any given Sunday, which is the point of all the prep work. But the players have to remember that New York was 0-2 coming in, not the other way around. The Panthers beat a reputation and it is Rivera’s job to remind them of that. If you know anything about him, the potential of a letdown after such an emotional high has already been addressed.
It appears that linebacker Jon Beason has lost his job at weakside linebacker to Chase Blackburn. The 28-year-old, seven-year pro and three-time Pro Bowl selection was on the field for just one snap in the blowout win over the Giants after a rather lackluster performance in the last-second loss to the Bills a week ago.
The Panthers are the first team in more than 10 years to post a shutout win of at least 38 points while recording seven sacks and three turnovers plus hold their opponent to 150 net yards.
Cam Newton is the only player in NFL history with 8,000-plus pass yards, 40-plus passing touchdowns, 1,000-plus rushing yards and 20-plus rushing TDs in his first 34 games.
With 8,497 passing yards in his career, Newton passed Kerry Collins (8,306 from 1995-98) for third most in franchise history. Steve Beuerlein (12,690) is up next. Jake Delhomme is the all-time leader with 19,258 yards.
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Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.