Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Week 2 Recap: Ron Rivera's Continued Ineptitude Costs the Carolina Panthers

The dust has settled. Emotions have calmed. Well, mine have at least but I get the feeling that plenty of Panthers fans woke up this morning with an awful taste in their mouth and plenty of vitriol for Ron Rivera. The loss to the Buffalo Bills 24-23 came as no surprise to fans who have followed this team under Rivera’s watch, and that is exactly the problem.

When a rookie quarterback goes 80 years in a 1:38 with no timeouts it should be a surprise. It shouldn’t warrant a shrug of the shoulders and an “I told you so.” But it did. There was no shock or disbelief, just frustration and rage. Coming into the season the Panthers had blown eight fourth quarter leads under Rivera.  Through the first two weeks of the season that number is up 10, but this latest blown lead was the king of them all.

Why? Because many of us didn’t look at the ugly truth of those eight losses over the past two years and chose to believe that things would magically change. We rationalized the loss to Seattle with it coming against a top team. We figured that against a lesser opponent in Buffalo that things would be different, but how silly of us to not look to the past to see the future. The bottom line is that no matter who Carolina lines up against they find ways to lose games that are close in the fourth quarter. For many of us this latest loss was the realization that things aren’t going to change with Rivera on the sideline.

Players are going to point to missed opportunities (there were plenty) as a reason for the loss, but the Bills missed plenty of opportunities throughout the game and twice extended drives for the Panthers with stupid penalties. The result of a holding call on a punt resulted in a first down for the Carolina, which eventually led to Ted Ginn Jr.’s 40-yard touchdown reception. EJ Manuel looked very much like the rookie he is throughout the contest and if he would have connected on some routine throws this would have been a different ballgame.

The missed opportunities excuse can be used each and every week. Buffalo had plenty, but when it mattered they came through, something the Panthers weren’t able to do and, well, never seem to be able to do.

What you would like to see is the coaching staff creating more opportunities in which the Panthers can deliver on in primetime situations. There was an opportunity to end the game with a first down on a 4-and-1 that is going to be the most debated decision of the game these next few days. That’s a play right there where you can create an opportunity to have your team close. Close a game once and it’s more likely to happen the next time a similar situation rolls around.

Play not to lose and you wind up 2-14 in close games and on the chopping block. Why Rivera isn’t in Eff You mode right now is perplexing. He should be going balls to the wall knowing that if he doesn’t take this team to the playoffs he’s gone. David Gettleman has no ties to him. The only way he stays is if he wins, yet he insists on relying on a formula that has not produced very many.

By Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results) Rivera is not sane when it comes to making key game decisions. The misused timeouts, the lack of aggressiveness in short yardage situations when Cam Newton is your quarterback, the continuous reliance on the defense to close out games and the over reliance on the passing attack has worn thin.

It seems that the 2013 Panthers are headed towards another lost season. One which provides more questions than answers, and one that once again leaves a fanbase with a bitter taste in their mouth on Monday mornings. I don’t know about you but I miss the grit and savvy of the Jake Delhomme-led teams. They weren’t always the most talented, yet they knew how to close out a game and rise up to a challenge. Let’s hope that the winds from Louisiana can carry that fire Jake played with to Bank of America Stadium when the Panthers battle Eli Manning and the New York Giants.


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  • Mark Bradford

    So, they took the FG and made the Bills go 80 yards to get a TD to win the game. I would love to hear everybody screaming if the Panthers went for it and were stopped. Then the Bills would get a FG to tie the game win in OT. Ron Rivera did not blow coverages. Ron Rivera did not miss blocks all game long, Ron Rivera did not drop passes. Ron Rivera did not commit penalties. There are glaring weaknesses on this team that have been exposed. With the limited cap those weaknesses can be mitigated only so much. I do not think that anybody anywhere in their right mind would say that the Panthers have a top flight Oline or defensive secondary. The Bills sure proved that.

    • ahrcshaw

      Good comment, but from the smoke signals I have seen Rivera is a cooked goose. And the young coaching staff is gone with him.

      • Mark Bradford

        And I would hate to see that,, but then I hated to see John Fox go. The problems go far deeper than just on the field. Need to look at the very top and start down.

        • ahrcshaw

          Something is sure wrong, and now they not only have a poor D backfield they do not have any healthy players. Go Panthers.

  • ahrcshaw

    Can you imagine someone getting 4 ½ sacks on Cam in one game? Seams to me that Rivera didn’t block too well. Hmmmm there is no question the Panther team is snake bitten, but they are going to have to learn how to win. 99.9% of the coach’s in the NFL would have kicked field goals and rely on their defense to seal the game. To say the players or coach’s as a whole didn’t do well is totally misleading, there were a few players who did not play well enough to win. The young QB for the bills stepped up as well as a few of his players and some of our players did not match or counter their good play.

    When the Panther defense gives the ball to the offense on the 26 yrd line and you have to settle for a 25 yd field goal that does not make for a good effort, someone let the other players down. I am sure the films will show who got beat and where. There are 53 members on this team that are suppose to be pros, I do understand being beat once or twice, but anything over that is inexcusable.

    There is not one call Rivera made that lost this game or the game against the Seahawks, there is not one play or misplay that Rivera made from the sideline. Each play is designed for making a touchdown or a stop, figure in the oppositions play, and you win some and loose some. The key is making the play because that one play may win or loose the game. Go Panthers

  • Mads_Dad215

    Fox was never a great at coaching young players. All of his teams that have flourished are veteran squads. We were and are rebuilding, so I wasn’t upset with Fox going. Also, Fox never made great halftime adjustments.

  • All Down Hill

    Cam was sacked 6 times in that game and DeAngelo was running hard but into brick walls. Yes, Cam was staring at receivers and was inaccurate but he was running for his life much of the day. LaFell dropped passes and Ginn had alligator arms. Those, for the most part, are not all coaching issues. The Panthers were MUCH better against Seattle than SF result. Being blown out is MUCH worse than just barely losing. Speaking of which, Seifert was terrible. Fox was an insubordinate jerk who quit on his own team. This team is playing hard against the best teams in the league. Our big issues are O-Line, dropped passes, DBs and, yes, some mental mistakes. QB play and coaching are NOT our biggest problems. Since our new coach has been here our defense is MUCH better and our special team are now blocking and doing better. Our offense needs better blocking which I hope will improve.

    • ahrcshaw

      I agree, the team has had many chances to win, but a mis play here and mis play there, and not making a play can ruin any team. Had Olsen not dropped 2 ball, or had someone just tackled a Bills player b/4 they got out of bounds. Go Panthers.