January 26, 2014; Honolulu, HI, USA; Team Rice coach Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers during the 2014 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Rivera Gets Three-Year Contract Extension

The Carolina Panthers announced today that Head Coach Ron Rivera will continue to be the team’s front man through at least the 2016 season.

The link to the story on NFL.com is here.

Coach Rivera’s contract is reportedly worth between $4 and $5 million per season with playoff incentives, according to the story.

My reaction to that was “well, DUH…if he fails to make the playoffs the next three seasons, he likely won’t be renewed in the first place – hello!”

Such is the life of an NFL Head Coach in the “What have you done for me lately?” league.

Rivera went from five wins his first season to seven in 2012 before vaulting to 12-4 and a #2 NFC playoff seed in his third. Sure, he still hasn’t won a playoff game, but the Panthers were facing a team they only defeated by a single point on the road but had gotten a lot of injured players back by the time they met in Charlotte in the playoffs.

The Niners are also an obvious team with extensive playoff experience, having lost last year’s Super Bowl to the Ravens on the back of non-called penalties on the last play. San Francisco would even have been more at home than the Panthers in the snow, having slogged through a third quarter unplanned intermission in last year’s Super Bowl the night that the lights went out in….well, Louisiana. They’ve seen it and been through it.

At least Rivera’s Panthers now have the “playoff experience” under their belt and shouldn’t be star-struck in the slightest when they return to the playoffs next season.

Rivera’s team set a franchise record in 2013 with eight consecutive victories after a 1-3 start and indeed lost only one more game the entire season.

After his slow September start, cries for his head renewed with vigor from many, myself (sort of) included, but with the caveat at the time that I had said “I’d hate to see Rivera let go when he’s got the job 75% finished. I’d just as soon let him see this thing through (until season’s end)” in a post I made probably in late September.

Personally, I’m glad to see Rivera succeed and return for at least a few more seasons. After David Gettleman arrived last off-season and I saw what he did in the draft, I could see the bigger plan unfolding.

Rivera’s a defensive guy; fix the defense first.

That much is done. Now we get to see how a linebacker approaches the attempt to improve an offense that was dead last in “explosive” plays – plays over 20 yards – in the NFL last season.

Just like when he first took over the team and the #1 pick in the NFL Draft, the offense, at least, has very little room to go but up.

Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye

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